A wine to set the pulse racing - by Neil Courtier

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Pinot Noir reveals aromas of strawberries, violets and redcurrants, with black cherry flavours on the palate. Levels of oak vary, depending on the style, which covers the relatively light, to rich and silky examples.

As Pinot matures, it takes on a farmyardy character. Yes, I know it sounds weird to describe a wine that smells of the countryside, but it’s a feature that sets the pulse racing. At best the scent, flavour and texture of top-quality Pinot is unmatched. This grape variety is the glory of Burgundy’s Côte d’Or, with its challengers coming from New Zealand, Germany, California (Central Coast/Sonoma), Oregon, Australia (Yarra Valley) and South Africa’s Walker Bay. The lighter versions are equally at home with fish as red meats.

On the shelf

Sainsbury’s – House – Pinot Noir – Vin cu Indicatie geographica – Romania (£ 4.49 Sainsbury’s) – A great introduction to a classic grape variety, soft/mellow, cherry and damson-toned, easy and straightforward. Serve slightly chilled.

Cono Sur – Pinot Noir 2011 Central Valley – Chile (£ 7.48 Asda) – Great value. Plum and strawberry flavours, with ripe tannins and an all-round immensely satisfying wine.

La Tunella – Pinot Nero 2010 Colli Orientali del Friuli – Italy (£ 9.40 – exclusive offer price for readers – Corney & Barrow, Newmarket) – Soft, spiced Pinot, medium-bodied, with red-fruits to the fore. Finely poised and very attractive, try with pasta and mushrooms.

Leyda – Single Vineyard – Pinot Noir 2011 Leyda Valley – Chile (£12.49 – buy two bottles save £ 5 – Majestic Wine) – The proximity of the Pacific Oceanprovides the cool-climate that allows Pinot Noir to thrive here. Beautifully fragrant, with notes of red-fruit – cherry and raspberry –it’s succulent, yet very elegant.

Villa Maria – Cellar Selection – Pinot Noir 2010 Marlborough – New Zealand (£ 14.49 –buy two bottles save £ 7 –Majestic Wine) – Expertly crafted, to reveal Morello cherry fruit, a silky texture, well-judged oak, fresh acidity and a seamless mouth-feel. A great food wine.

Hahn Winery – Pinot Noir 2011 California (£ 11.99 Waitrose)– Plush, cherry, blackcurrant-rich Pinot, with a whisper of oak, that’s really accessible.

Olivier Leflaive – Cuvée Morgot – Bourgogne Rouge 2010 – Burgundy – France (£ 13.45 – exclusive offer price for readers –Corney & Barrow, Newmarket) – Classic red Burgundy. Open on the nose, medium-bodied, understated, bramble-like fruits, subtle spice and earthy undertones.

Neil Courtier is a freelance wine educator and writer. He runs wine courses & tutored tastings for groups and individuals, in Bury St Edmunds and Cambridge. For information, call 01359 270318, email grapesense1@aol.com or visit www.grapesense.com