Is this New Zealand’s best Pinot Noir? It’s certainly in the top half dozen examples of the grape, a wine that nods towards Chambolle-Musigny as much as its native North Island. It’s a subtle, fragrant red with silky tannins, sustaining acidity, chalky minerality and a stylishly judged balance of oak, fruit and tannin. Winemaking of a high order.
There aren’t many wineries in the world that have successfully combined Pinot Noir with Syrah, but this biodynamic blend is so successful that I wish more people would follow suit. Pinot tames the peppery, iodine-like notes of Martinborough Syrah, adding a softer, more “feminine” touch. The oak is very understated, while the flavours of clove spice, red fruits and a hint of forest floor revolve around a core of bright acidity. Unusual, but very tasty indeed.
Pinot Grigio and Pinot Nero are very close genetically, so why not combine them in a white wine, vinifying the latter without its skins? The result is rather tasty, with aromatic, Golden Delicious apple, pear and quince notes, and just a hint of wild strawberry. Unoaked, refined and well balanced, this is a real find for less than £10.
A strong candidate for the best value supermarket bubbly under £20, this is a special blend of mostly Pinot Noir with 20% Pinot Meunier and 10% Chardonnay. It’s a malty, comparatively dry style with lots of reserve wine richness, flavours of raspberry and milk chocolate, a hint of toasty autolysis and a creamy, well-balanced mid-palate. Smart fizz at the price.
A rosé that deserves to be just as famous as Laurent Perrier’s, this is a blend of mostly Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and Chardonnay from the Côte des Blancs with a little Pinot Meunier. The high percentage of reserve wines (25%) gives the wine added depth and complexity. It’s a complex, red fruit-dominated rosé with a hint of blackcurrant leaf, a balsamic undertone, fine bubbles and refeshing acidity. A really good food rosé.
Not quite as thrilling as the Tolpuddle Chardonnay, but this is still an impressive Aussie Pinot from Tasmania’s Coal River Valley. Supple and fragrant, with aromas of rose petal and red fruits, a touch of oak, fine tannins and good grip on the finish. The cool climate acidity gives the wine real length on the finish.
Craggy Range makes some of the best Pinot Noirs in New Zealand, without charging the high prices of some of its competitors. This is a typically savoury Martinborough Pinot Noir, with less colour than examples from Central Otago, but more complexity than the majority from Marlborough. Red cherry and pomegranate, toasty oak, medium-weight tannins and a long, refreshing finish. It should age nicely, too.
I’ve described this as the best value Pinot Noir in the UK before and I have no reason to change my mind, especially when it’s on a deal. It’s soft and fragrant with attractive strawberry fruit sweetness, supple tannins and fresh acidity. A hint of oak (from barrels, not staves) adds to the sense of a wine that is over-delivering. Well done, Gerd Stepp! If only Burgundy could do this under £9.
Waitrose doesn’t source its Vintage Champagne from P&C Heidsieck any more, alas, so get hold of this amazing fizz while it’s still on the shelves. It’s toasty and rich, with layer upon layer of flavour, fine bubbles, incredible length and just enough dosage to balance the acidity. A complex, savoury bubbly that’s a steal under £30.
Just in case you think I’ve got the maths wrong, this wine is already on a deal until October 1st at £16.99, so the combined discount brings it to £12.74. It’s a youthful, Chardonnay-dominated bubbly with 30% Pinot Noir adding fruit to the former variety’s acidity and structure. It could do with a little more bottle age (what do you expect for such a well-priced wine?) so don’t be afraid to tuck it away for a year or two. But right now, it’s very drinkable: zesty and fresh, with notes of citrus, wet stone and brioche.