Pinot Noir Wine Guide

Wines made from Pinot Noir are amongst the most popular and widely championed by critics and consumers alike, yet this tantalisingly romantic grape is also one of the most temperamental varieties in the world. Here is a little bit of information to hopefully assist you in your efforts to buy Pinot Noir wine…


Cultivated in Burgundy and Champagne during the 4th Century, Pinot Noir is a difficult grape to nurture due to its fragile skin that is susceptible to sunburn, breakage and disease, yet it is now responsible for some of the world’s greatest wines.

Where is Pinot Noir grown?

Away from the widely championed area of Burgundy, where this black grape is chiefly associated, Pinot Noir initially didn’t travel well but that is certainly no longer the case. Alsace and the Loire are noted producers and premium quality Pinot Noir wines are also commonplace in California, Chile, Australia and particularly in New Zealand, so when buying Pinot Noir wines make sure you venture outside of the Old World.

Wine Styles of Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir generates complex and seductive wines that are often fermented in new French oak barrels, boasting red-fruit character and silky, smooth tannins. The aromas range from pure cherries, redcurrants and raspberries to more rustic notes. This complex grape variety, alongside Chardonnay and occasionally Pinot Meunier, is also a chief ingredient of many Champagnes.

When to drink Pinot Noir

Grand Cru Burgundies are deemed to hit their peak between ten and fifteen years, but the majority of Pinot Noir wines are best drunk relatively young due to their light, soft tannins. A top New Zealand Pinot Noir, the Schubert 'Block B' for example, is at its best at about six years old.

Our top three Pinot Noir wines under £20
Vavasour Pinot Noir, Awatere Valley 2010

Based on the northern tip of the South Island in New Zealand, Vavasour are producing award winning wines across their superb range and this light in colour, delicately scented Pinot Noir is worthy testament to their burgeoning reputation. This elegant Pinot Noir is aged for eleven months in French oak barriques, providing a subtle aromas of raspberry, cherry and herbs.

Savigny-lès-Beaune 1er Cru Les Lavières 2002/04, Domaine Louis Jadot

Louis Jadot have an important holding in this Premier Cru vineyard, which lies close to the boundary with neighbouring Pernand-Vergelesses. This beautiful Pinot Noir from Burgundy boasts silky soft tannins, complemented by generous fruit and slightly spicy complexity.

Robert Mondavi Winery Pinot Noir 2008, Carneros

Los Carneros in California is famed for its nutrient-lean soils and cool evening fog that drifts in from San Francisco Bay and blankets the Robert Mondavi vineyards. These varied growing conditions enable the development of richly textured and vibrantly flavoured Pinot Noir wines and this one is seductively smooth in the finest traditions of this widely championed varietal.

CellarVie Wines’ best value Pinot Noir:

Cono Sur Single Block Visión Pinot Noir 2010, Colchagua Valley

Chile is an emerging market in terms of producing stellar Pinot Noir wines. The tepid climate of the Colchagua Valley provides optimum growing conditions for this notoriously temperamental grape varietal and the Cono Sur Single Block Visión Pinot Noir is a perfect example of this. Aged for three months in French oak, this Pinot has a nice balance of juicy strawberry, red cherry fruit and flavours of buttered cinnamon. This wine can also tastes delicious when slightly chilled so don’t be afraid to pop it briefly in the fridge before drinking.

Did you know?

The name Pinot Noir is derived from the French words for "pine" and "black" which alludes to the grape varietals' tightly clustered deep, dark purple, pine cone-shaped bunches of fruit.

Nearly every affliction known to affect vines is common and often widespread among pinot noir vineyards. The Pinot Noir grape is susceptible to Spring frosts despite being relatively tolerant of cold climates and this grape also affords the Pierce's Disease, carrying sharpshooter leafhopper the perfect home. The aforementioned pesky insect has the capacity to destroy entire vineyards in less than three years.

Pinot Noir sales rocketed in the United States, Australia, New Zealand and Asia in the aftermath of the release of Alexander Payne's 2004 comedy drama, Sideways. The Oscar nominated film’s lead character, Miles, was a huge advocate of this charismatic grape varietal.

What to eat with Pinot Noir

When done correctly good food brings out the very best in good Pinot Noir and in this regard it is amongst the most versatile wines to pair with food. Lighter pinot noir styles are flexible; to such an extent why not be bold and pair it with meatier fish dishes like tuna or salmon.

Lithe pinot noirs are obviously not well suited to overwhelmingly heavy foods but leaner meats such as pheasant and venison are a delightful pairing.
New World Pinots tend to be versatile and capable of a plethora different food matches whether its pork loin or a range of different salads.

Old World pinots are normally more savoury and earthy than their New World counterparts and veal is often quoted as being a great food and wine marriage. Nuits-Saint-Georges for example would be too heavy for fish and seafood but casseroled game or duck works very well.

Perfect Pinot Noir food match:

Rare Vineyards Pinot Noir 2010, Vin de France and Roast Beef

A great value Pinot Noir accompanied by one of the UK’s favourite dishes; a heart-warming winter roast beef that matches the richness of texture and earthy tones of this wine from a region on the cusp of the Pyrénées Mountains. Although Pinot Noir wines are often slightly lighter than some of their red grape counterparts, this easy-drinking wine compliments beef nonetheless.
Main image by Naotake Murayama 

Written by: Ben Moss

Ben Moss 


BBQ Spatchcock Piri-Piri Chicken

Summer has come to a close and autumn is well and truly on its way. Blustering winds, cooler temperatures and swiftly shortening days mean it will soon be time to wrap up warm and to make the most of the wonderful autumn produce on offer. Time to say goodbye to those fresh, summer whites and replace them with the warmer, more robust reds frequently associated with colder temperatures.

What to drink with Fish Pie?

Fish Pie is a quintessentially British recipe. Easy to make and absolutely delicious, it is also a great dinner party dish - with a limited amount of last minute preparations needed it’s a winner in my book! However, where do you start when matching a fish pie with wine?

Five Ways to Open a Bottle of Wine Without a Corkscrew

For that moment when you find yourself without a corkscrew and unable to open that bottle of wine; here are five ways to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew. Obviously, if you do have a corkscrew to hand, it is a lot easier to go down the more traditional route…


Autumn Wine Guide

As the days shorten and the weather shows her craggy face, it’s time to consider putting away those summer whites and barbecue rosés and cosying up to wines that bridge the gap between the lighter styles synonymous with summer and the ... read more


Wines to drink at Easter

Easter usually marks the beginning of spring and the point at which some wine drinkers veer from rich and wintry reds to lighter and slightly more delicate wines. Yet for some, the Easter weekend is likely to culminate in a family ... read more


What wine to drink with Sunday Lunch

Sunday lunch is a rite of passage for the English. It is a meal and an occasion that we can collectively claim to have nailed. A momentary window amid our busy week set aside for communal revelry in family, friendship and food. The ... read more


Chardonnay Wine Guide

Chardonnay is the dominant force in the white wines of eastern France, where it has resided, thrived and subsequently travelled far and wide since the Middle Ages. Easy to grow, hugely adaptable to blending and globally popular, ... read more


Christmas Wine Guide

All your Christmas wine requirements are hopefully covered here, from which bottles to buy as presents, to wine gift vouchers, the best port and dessert wines and what wine to serve with your Christmas turkey on the big day itself… read more


Chenin Blanc Wine Guide

Native to the Loire Valley or an area commonly called Pineau de la Loire and grown there for over 1,000 years, Chenin Blanc is amongst the world’s most versatile grape varieties that thrives in the New World regions of South Africa, ... read more


What wine to drink with pancakes on Shrove Tuesday?

Shrove Tuesday precedes Ash Wednesday in the Christian Calendar and traditionally it is heralded as a day of feasting before a period of fasting. Some give up chocolate, others alcohol (gulp!) but regardless of your efforts, rarely are ... read more


What wine to drink on Burns Night

"Go fetch to me a pint o' wine," From My Bonie Mary, by Robert Burns On Friday 25th January many will celebrate the life and poetry of Scotland’s national bard, Robert Burns, and seeing as the man himself was famously ... read more


New study claims Red wine prevents cholesterol build up from meat

A Sunday roast just isn’t the same without a lovely glass of red wine and now it appears a cheeky sup of claret will actually diminish the unhealthy effects of eating red meat.  read more


Merlot Wine Guide

The diversity and easy-drinking style of Merlot has made it one of the world’s most popular varietals, with this black grape - which made its first appearance on the Right Bank of the Dordogne in the early eighteenth century - proving ... read more


Chardonnay Food Match: Pasta with Garlic Ham in cream sauce

The wide variety of Chardonnay styles makes it a hugely versatile wine for food matching but in this instance and paired with pasta in a creamy sauce we suggest a full-bodied oaky New World Chardonnay. An Italian classic, this easy ... read more


Cabernet Sauvignon Food Match: Steak With Blue Cheese Recipe

Cabernet Sauvignon wines are notoriously hearty and rich, boasting sturdy tannins with heavy texture and therefore they need a suitably powerful culinary match such as a rare steak, covered in blue cheese… read more


Sauvignon Blanc Wine Guide

Sauvignon Blanc is responsible for some of the world’s most popular, distinctive and dry white wines such as Sancerre and Pouilly- Fumé in France, and a plethora of superb Sauvignon Blancs from the New World, particularly in New Zealand. ... read more


What’s Hot in the World of Wine: Argentinian Malbec & Christmas drinking

After a fleeting hiatus our fortnightly instalment of What’s Hot in the World of Wine returns with an almighty bang as this week we run the rule over the Telegraph’s focus on Argentinian Malbec, The Sunday Times examines a few festive ... read more


Syrah/Shiraz Wine Guide

Often championed as the noblest black grape varietal, Syrah/Shiraz perpetually produces some of the finest red wines in the world and ones capable of ageing superbly over a period of decades. As one of France’s most ancient varieties, ... read more


Pinot Noir food match: Roasted vegetables recipe

This great winter warmer recipe for roasted vegetables is easy, hassle-free and more pertinently a perfect food match with Pinot Noir wine. It’s a versatile dish delicious on its own or paired with anything from roast chicken to fish, or ... read more


Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Guide

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most widely grown red wine grape varieties in the world, thriving as it does in a diverse range of global climates and producing some of the greatest and most varied wines. Prior to the 1990s when Merlot ... read more


Pinot Noir induced pigs thrive over vodka persuaded counterparts

While by no means a major breakthrough for heavy drinkers, new research suggests pinot noir - a light to medium-bodied red wine – has better health benefits than vodka. read more


What’s Hot in the World of Wine: Terroir, Pinot Noir & Sauvignon Blanc locums

Once a fortnight, CellarVie Wines dives knee deep into the weekend’s newspapers in an effort to determine what’s hot in the world of wine. In this instalment, The Sunday Times explains the nuances of Terroir and winemaking in Mexico, The ... read more


What’s Hot in the World of Wine: Pinot Noir, Grüner Veltliner, Rare Vineyards & Chenin Blanc

Once a fortnight, CellarVie Wines kicks back with the weekend’s newspapers in an effort to determine what’s hot in the world of wine, offering up views and possible alternatives to the nation’s big-hitting publications and their wine ... read more


The Tailor Made Wine Buyer Guide

There are a host of wine buyer guides across the web that often tell you what you should and shouldn’t be drinking – but how do these guides know what type of wine suits you and your palate? Sure, they are extremely helpful if you are ... read more


What We’re Drinking: Eliott & Veramonte Pinot Noir

The high quality of South American wines has really begun to show in the past five to ten years, resulting in Chilean and Argentinean wines becoming more and more popular both on the shelves and in restaurants. Whilst conducting my own ... read more

Post a comment...