A good Pinot? Bingo! Finding decent Pinot Noir can be hard work and very expensive. So I’ve done it for you...

Pinot Noir is a nightmare. Recommending good value Pinot reminds me that far from being the sensual, elegant epitome of terroir, Pinot Noir is actually the Xenomorph from Alien – takes no prisoners and has acid for blood. It takes hard work (aka money) to turn this beast into a beauty and it can be as picky and flighty as a forgetful nit. And even though Pinot Noir has disappointed me far more times than it’s enthralled me, I can’t stop buying the stuff. Why?

Sam Neill’s Two Paddocks is why. I opened a bottle of his First Paddock 2011 from New Zealand’s Otago the other night. Costs more than £40 a bottle, so expectations were Millennium Falcon-high. As I cracked the screwcap the aroma got to me, curling round me like Kaa from The Jungle Book. The core of this wine is unbelievably pure, delivering its secrets in satin.

New Zealand, for me, has the highest hit rate for Pinot that makes me smile rather than sigh. Australia too has stellar talent in winegrowers such as Mac Forbes in the Yarra and consistent quality from families such as the De Bortolis.

France’s Burgundy can be stellar if you pick the right year, vineyard and winegrower, but you’ll likely pay exorbitant prices and need to buy fast, often en primeur to secure the best.

There’s Oregon in the USA, Canada and plenty more Pinot places to consider, but for down-to-earth Pinot it’s still Chile and, increasingly, Romania that have been showing serious potential – look out for the wines of Cramele Recaş.

But discount Germany – where it’s known as Spätburgunder – at your peril, and England could yet surprise us all. Bolney Pinot Noir Foxhole 2015 (12.5%) is in Vinoteca for £17.50, but compared to many bottles at the same price from elsewhere there are myriad jollies on offer here. 

Listen to Olly chatting to a celebrity guest about their passion for wine in his new podcast series aglasswith.com

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