The second surprise I had on my travels was to discover the emergence of excellent German Pinot Noir at a fraction of the cost of its French counterparts. This is largely due to the warm summers in Germany in recent years, which have allowed full flavour development. Many of the vines are quite old and can deliver excellent flavour profiles and structure.
Pinot Noir in German is called Spaetburgunder or Blauburgunder. A variant of this is Fruehburgunder, which is a mutation of Pinot Noir, called Pinot Noir Precoce in France. This is an interesting grape, as it ripens earlier ('frueh'), yet has arguably fuller flavour development than regular Pinot Noir.
An excellent example of this is Weingut Beck Hedesheimer Hof from the Rheinhessen region. I drank the 2007 Fruehburgunder. This is an excellent wine. It is quite full-flavoured, and tastes of black cherry, blackberry and cranberry. The wine is vibrant, clean and elegant, and it expands along the palate.This early ripening wine comes in at 14% alcohol, but it is not obvious. Give this type of wine a try when in Germany. It is not exported, as far as I know.