The arrival of autumn is perfectly suited to the mellow fruitfulness of Pinot Noir

It is about this time of year that I find my hand moving to the Pinot section of the wine rack. During the hot summer weather I have had my fill of crisp bright whites and while I will continue to enjoy my favourite Chardonnays, Albariños and quite a lot of Riesling there is something about a the bosky, fragrant aromas of a good Pinot Noir that suits this autumn season.

As the sun goes down and the aroma of dinner is in the air this seemingly delicate grape has enough power and finesse to settle itself around a wide variety of foods, and complement them, without dominating proceedings.

Light enough to enjoy with fish, especially when there are mushrooms, a sauce or even some roasted vegetables on the plate, it is big enough to match with pheasant and duck, and it easily can take a roast chicken in its stride.  And while  delicate Burgundies and Martinborough Pinots may struggle against a steak there are bigger more powerful Pinots from Otago that can manage to accompany beef, and still be happy in the glass when the cheese comes around.

The great thing about Pinot is that if the day is warm you can give the bottle just half an hour in the fridge to add freshness to the flavours, but on a cooler evening, pouring the wine at room temperature produces more depth and complexity.

Like all grape varieties the style of wine changes, depending on where it is grown and how those grapes are made into wine.  There has been an explosion of Pinot Noir plantings around the world and there are some tremendous bargains out there.

If you are planning your weekend menus, here are a few suggestions.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir, Chile, Morrisons, £7.25 down to £6 until 15 October

This is my all-time favourite bargain entry-level Pinot and at this offer price you need to stock up. It provides lightweight, strawberry, cherry and plum fruit with just a hint of spice on the finish and is equally happy when served slightly chilled with fish or at room temperature with chicken, roasted fish or light pasta dishes. The bicycles in the name and on the label refer to the best way to get around this environmentally-friendly estate.


Rebenmeister German Pinot Noir 2018, Baden, Aldi £6.49

Germany manages to make some excellent Pinots, particularly down in the warmer region of Baden.  With fairly bright, crisp acidity, this is a light, fresh style perfectly suited to pouring alongside fish.

Calmel and Joseph Villa Blanche Pinot Noir 2018, France, Waitrose £8.99 down to £6.99 until 8 October

The grapes for this wine are sourced from a vineyard high in the hills of the Languedoc Roussillon, where daytime sunshine is high and night-time temperatures are low.  This produces a fresh, juicy, red cherry and strawberry style of Pinot Noir.  There is no oak in this wine, the fruit just shines out.

Team with charcuterie and roast salmon.

The Interlude Pinot Noir, 2018, Australia, Co-op £7

There is a small percentage of  other grapes in with the Pinot which gives the wine more power, so it has deeper red fruit flavours, more black cherry and plums with a backbone that can take on red meat such as beef.

Domaine de Mandeville Pinot Noir 2018, Languedoc, France, Marks and Spencer £8

This is one of the M&S wines that have come down in price as part of their new, initiative which sees prices remaining steady instead of jumping up and down to gain attention.  The result is a great-value Pinot, with soft, juicy cherry fruit and supple tannins that go well with lamb and duck.


Finest Marlborough Pinot Noir 2018, New Zealand, Tesco £9

One of the best New Zealand supermarket Pinots on the shelves, this is fragrant on the nose and has all the right cherry and strawberry fruit.  Easy to drink, but with enough structure and elegance to cope with a range of foods from grilled fish to roast lamb.  For more fruit impact and structure step up to Tesco Finest Otago Pinot Noir 2017 which is made by the people at Villa Maria.  This has complexity and a touch of spice in the fruit and is big enough to partner game or even coq au vin.

Louis Latour Red Burgundy 2017, France, Waitrose £15.49 down to £12.39 until 8 October

Good Burgundy doesn’t have to cost the earth and this, from quality producer Louis Latour is exceptional value.  It has the gentle fruit, and those earthy, herbal notes that good Burgundy should have.


Escarpment The Edge Pinot Noir 2018, Martinborough, New Zealand, Waitrose £14.99

Made by Larry McKenna, who is widely known as Mr Pinot, since he was the first to prove that New Zealand could make world class Pinot.  This is made from bought-in grapes, rather than grapes from the estate, but with Larry at the helm, the quality is just superb. As with all Escarpment wines there is plenty of dark cherry fruit with notes of herbs, and a ripe, rounded palate. Still quite young, with the potential to age for a couple of years, this is the early drinking, easier style and much less expensive version of regular Escarpment wines such as the magnificent Kiwa (Harrogate Wines, £32.50).

Artisan Tasmania Pinot Noir 2017, Australia, Aldi  £16.99

Despite being part of Australia, the island of Tasmania has a totally different climate, with cool breezes and just slightly more rain.  This means that Pinot ripens well yet still retains lively freshness.  This is a delicious wine with dark cherry fruit and layers of complexity.  It arrives in Aldi stores on October 1 so snap some up when you see it.  Stocks will not last long.

Westcott Vineyards Estate Pinot Noir 2015, Ontario, Canada, Latitude, Leeds,  £20.99

This Pinot Noir comes from the Niagara Peninsular, close to Lake Ontario.  It has delicious soft blackberry and black cherry fruit with depth and complexity and, tasted blind, no one will guess where it comes from.




About The Author

Christine is a wine writer, broadcaster and a wine judge for several international wine competitions. She has a technical background and spent five years as a buyer for a major supermarket before moving to wine writing.She writes for The Yorkshire Post Magazine and organises the York Festival of Food and Drink. She has won both the Lanson and the Roederer prizes for wine writing.

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