10 outstanding Pinot Noirs from £10-50

Following last month’s big tasting of Pinot Noirs from every corner of the wine-producing world – The Global Pinot Noir Masters 2019 – we pick out 10 outstanding samples from a range of price points.

In contrast to other globally-planted varieties that trip from any wine-lover’s tongue, Pinot Noir is rarely used to make inexpensive plonk. Why? Because creating an appealing Pinot Noir on a tight budget is notoriously tricky. Employ the techniques of high-volume viticulture and winemaking to this grape, and the results tend to be dire. Such pernickety behaviour may frustrate the producer, but it has helped Pinot’s positioning – today, it is deemed the ultimate in sophistication when it comes to top-end drinking.

But, because Pinot is so hard to perfect, it is relatively rare to unearth a wine where the combination of talent, climate and soil have come together to yield something magnificent, and particularly at an accessible price point.

Having said that, this year’s Pinot Masters taught us two things. Firstly, there is good Pinot now available for those without deep pockets, as more producers master the grape’s particular requirements in the field and the cellar.

Secondly, there is a broader sweep of places where Pinot can reach impressive heights. And these are primarily in cooler-climate New World locations, usually near the sea.

For now, if I were to name a single part of the wine world that reliably delivers plenty of Pinot punch for not too much cash, then I would single out Sonoma County. While good Pinots will rarely be found for less than £20 in the UK market from this part of California, one doesn’t have to go much beyond £30 to find something delicious. Move further up the west coast of the US, to Oregon, and one can also fine great Pinot, but the entry-point is higher.

Elsewhere, considering the results from this years’s Pinot Masters, it is apparent that parts of Chile are emerging as sources of lovely Pinot, particularly the Leyda Valley, along with Limarí, while New Zealand’s Marlborough is also becoming a go-to for keenly-priced mid-weight Pinot, and the Adelaide Hills appears to be in the ascendancy regarding this grape. It was also good to taste a lovely, reasonably-priced example from Italy’s Oltrepò Pavese, where Pinot Nero is the flagship variety.

You can see the results in full in the April edition of the drinks business, but for now, I have picked out a top 10 selection from the Pinot Masters. These have been chosen to encompass a range of price points and styles, and, importantly, all of them have been judged blind by Masters of Wine.

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