… and I don’t mean pinot blanc. Pinot noir is the dominant red grape in Germany, and has become so popular that plantings of pinot noir (called spatburgunder) have tripled since 1980 to about 30,250 acres. Pinot noir grapes are made into a dizzying range of styles, and most of the wine stays in Germany.

Now the example I offer here is clearly not the best of the pinot noir efforts in Germany, but, on the other hand, it cost only $5 at 30220.jpg Trader Joe’s in Tucson, where we spent a couple of days last week. The wine in question is the Edition Maxmilian Pinot Noir 2006, Rheingau, from the distinguished Weingut Hans Lang. Actually, the proprietor listed on the back label is Weinhaus Hans Lang, an entity dedicated to inexpensive wines, sold under the Edition Maximilian label.

My first note on the Edition Maximilian Pinot Noir 2006 is “surprisingly good.” The wine is a medium ruby-magenta color. It’s gently spicy in the nose, with touches of mulberry and dried cherry and a hint of bubble gum. The texture is light and delicate, yet, again surprisingly for the price, almost as satiny as a grown-up pinot noir. Flavors of melon and dried cherry, permeated by baking spice and cola, are, it’s true, a little sweet, but not cloying or harsh. It’s an enjoyable wine, easy on the palate, simple but not simpleminded. There’s nothing wrong with a rating of Good+, which I offer here, especially at the price, again, about $5 at Trader Joe’s. The wine is available in other venues at prices going up to $12, so TJ’s obviously has this on deep discount.

I found very little mention (and no label art) of this wine on the Internet, but, boy, reaction to the 2005 version (the label shown here) is strikingly divided between people who consider it a pleasant little quaffer and those who loathe, despise, hate and revile it, calling it (the 2005) swill, garbage and “not really wine.” Is the ’06 rendition that much better, or does such reaction merely reflect the tastes and preferences of the responders? Frankly, I don’t know.