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2010 Bodega Chacra Barda Pinot Noir

If you think pinot noir from South America is inevitably too rich, too extracted and too ripe, you really need to get yourself a bottle of this subtle, balanced gem from Bodega Chacra, founded by Piero Incisa, scion of the family who brought you a little Tuscan wine called… Sassicaia. Made from old vines found by Incisa in the cooler reaches of Patagonia (the youngest vineyard was planted in 1978, the others in 1955 and 1932), it is clear, with a bright garnet color, and a set of aromas that probably wouldn’t be out of place in the Côte de Beaune. Drawing a comparison is unfair, however, as there is a very specific personality to Barda, the entry-level cuvée from this special venture. With dried cherry and tea-leaf aromas, wild and earthy undertones on the nose, a bright and fresh feeling on the tongue, an overall impression of ripeness rounded out by maybe a bit of oak, this is a really fine pinot noir at a very reasonable price. A warning: it will likely make you want to buy the estate’s single-vineyard bottlings, whose prices hover closer to 100 dollars a bottle. Highly recommended. RC