94

2012 Kusuda, Pinot Noir, Martinborough

( N/A, 13.5%, Hallowed Ground )

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. 

BuyDrinking window: 2014-18Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, New Zealand, Red, Pinot Noir

Newcomers on the scene

by Matt Walls
They wouldn’t have got past the elevator pitch in Dragons’ Den. “So you want to sell premium Austrian wines from a transport container in the East End of London?” summarises...
92

2011 Cambridge Road Dovetail Field Blend, Martinborough

( POA, 13%, Les Caves de Pyrene )

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. 

BuyDrinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: 91-95, New Zealand, Red, Pinot Noir, Syrah/Shiraz
90

2012 Mavum Pinot Grigio/Pinot Nero, Veneto

( £9.50, 12.5%, Amp Fine Wines, Hennings Wine Merchants )

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.

Drinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Italy, White, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris/Grigio
91

NV Les Pionniers Selected Cuvée for the Co-operative, Champagne

( £19.99, 12%, The Co-operative )

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.

BuyDrinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 91-95, France, Sparkling, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay
94

NV Henriot Rosé, Champagne

( £46, 12%, Fortnum & Mason, Harvey Nichols, Oddbins, Planet of the Grapes )

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.

Drinking window: 2014-16Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, France, Sparkling, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay

Spend less, drink better

by Matt Walls
The UK is a nation of bargain hunters. There are more pound shops on Britain’s high streets than bookstores. When it comes to wine we’re no different; most of what...
92

2012 Tolpuddle Pinot Noir, Tasmania

( £45.00, 13%, Liberty Wines )

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. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, Australia, Red, Pinot Noir
93

2011 Craggy Range Single Vineyard Pinot Noir, Martinborough

( £22.50, 13.5%, Majestic )

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. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-18Similar Wines: £20-£30, 91-95, New Zealand, Red, Pinot Noir
89

2012 Palatia Pinot Noir, Pfalz

( £8.99 down to £6.74, 13%, Marks & Spencer )

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. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-15Similar Wines: £5-£10, 86-90, Germany, Red, Pinot Noir
94

2004 Waitrose Brut Special Reserve Vintage Champagne

( £30.99 down to £23.25, 12%, Waitrose )

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. 

BuyDrinking window: 2013-18Similar Wines: £30-£50, 91-95, France, Sparkling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay
88

NV Finest* Premier Cru Champagne Brut, Champagne

( £19.99 down to £12.74, 12.5, Tesco )

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.

BuyDrinking window: 2013-16Similar Wines: £10-£20, 86-90, France, Sparkling, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay