Pinot Noir is perfect for both autumn and winter

John Wilson: If you enjoy smoother, more elegant red wines, this grape variety is the best choice

As the seasons change, we adjust our wine choices accordingly. Lighter red wines served chilled may be great in summer, but once autumn comes around, we tend to eat more substantial dishes and these call out for richer, more powerful red wines. However, there is one grape ideally suited to both summer and autumn drinking, and this is Pinot Noir. If you enjoy smoother, more elegant red wines, this variety is the perfect choice for autumn and even winter, going well with all sorts of mushroom and butternut squash dishes as well as duck, venison and feathered game.

Almost all red Burgundy is made from Pinot Noir, including some of the world’s greatest wines. But this is a small region, a quarter the size of Bordeaux, and demand has been growing inexorably over the past five years. Prices have risen, dramatically in some cases, as an ever-growing group of collectors around the world fall in love with the wines. It is of course still possible to buy reasonably priced Burgundy, but it is certainly getting more difficult. Happily, these days the rest of the world now offers plenty of alternatives.

Sancerre may be in a different region, but geographically it is not far from Burgundy. In recent years, the quality of red Sancerre has improved greatly, possibly thanks to global warming. These days some wines compare favourably with their Burgundian counterparts. Whelehans have no fewer than three Pinots from the Loire Valley, including two from Sancerre.

Outside of France, the best include Orgeon and California — although these are rarely cheap — as well as parts of Australia, South Africa and Italy. Chile makes increasingly good, reasonably priced Pinot, but it is New Zealand Pinot that is growing in popularity every year. Regions such as Central Otago, Waipara and Wairarapa produce world-class wines as does Marlborough — a great source of very reasonably priced Pinot as well.


Hungary I Heart Pinot Noir, Hungary

12.5%, €10

Light with smooth black cherry and plum fruits. Try it with nibbles before dinner or with cold meats.

From: Tesco and wine shops nationwide

Bender Pinot Noir 2020, Pfalz, Germany

13.5%, €20.55

Seductive voluptuous ripe red cherries with a hint of toast. Good with roast duck, duck pancakes, mushroom stroganoff.

From: Wines Direct

Domaine René Malleron Sancerre Rouge 2020

13.5%, €26.95

Medium bodied with very attractive concentrated dark cherry fruits. A good match for duck breast, herby pork chops or aubergine Parmigiana.

From: O’Briens

Giant Steps Yarra Valley Pinot Noir 2021, Australia

13.5%, €35.99

A very elegant Pinot with sweet ripe juicy strawberries and red cherries, and very fine tannins on the finish. A match for mushroom risotto, roast duck.

From:; The Corkscrew; Blackrock Cellar; 64 Wine; Grapevine; Ely Wine Store;; Higgins