Gibson on grapes: I’ve grown into pinot noir

Paul Cluver Ferricrete Pinot Noir from Marks and Spencer

Paul Cluver Ferricrete Pinot Noir from Marks and Spencer

Portchester Townswomens Guild during their Red Nose Day cake sale

Red Nose Day cake triumph
for Townswomen’s Guild

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Following on from last week’s summer whites, here are a few thoughts on summer reds.

With the exception of bolder, spicy red wines for a barbecue, generally I like to drink lighter more fruit-driven reds, some of which can even be chilled slightly.

Edna Valley Vineyard's Pinot Noir from Majestic

Edna Valley Vineyard's Pinot Noir from Majestic

The obvious place to start is pinot noir, a grape that the older I get the more I seem to appreciate.

It can be a most fickle grape and if you are not careful, in its homeland of Burgundy you can spend a lot of money on some very disappointing bottles.

The new world on the other hand, is slowly getting to grips with pinot noir in some of its cooler vineyard regions and there are good values to be had.

South Africa is not a country you would think about with pinot noir, but in the Elgin and Hemel-en- Aarde areas there are some good pinots to be found.

Paul Cluver Ferricrete Pinot Noir 2015, Elgin (M&S £8, down from £12 until August 1) is delicious wine, elegant and quite light, but with lovely red berry fruits and some spice on the nose followed by a silky palate with more red fruits. You could serve this lightly chilled with a salad nicoise or some teriyaki salmon.

Edna Valley Vineyard Pinot Noir 2013, Central Coast (Majestic £13.49 but £8.99 as part of a mixed six) is a little more full-bodied than the Paul Cluver, with plums, black cherry, coffee and some savoury notes, followed by some supple tannins and well balanced acidity. Not overly complex, but it works well at the price and it would be good with an Asian-influenced duck dish.

Much more serious is Main Divide Pinot Noir 2012, Waipara Valley (thenewzealandcellar.co.uk £18.50, and vineyardsdirect.com £15.95) which is one of the best sub-£20 pinot noirs I’ve tasted this year.

Main Divide is the sister label of Pegasus Bay, one of New Zealand’s most notable pinot noir producers and this is very Burgundy-like in style. Quite full bodied with cherry, mocha, roasted coffee, spices and smoky notes in the background, it’s just beginning to take on some savoury flavours with more mocha and coffee on the palate together with some fine tannins, before a long finish. Again this would be good with duck, roast chicken or some lamb cutlets.

Staying in New Zealand, but this time moving to North Island, The Edge Pinot Noir 2014, Martinborough (Waitrose £13.99) is another good example of why outside of Burgundy, the land of the long white cloud is pinot noir’s next home.

Again quite full bodied, but with a beautifully fragrant nose of raspberry, cherries and spices followed by ripe tannins and a long, flavoursome finish. Try this with a firm, meaty fish with mushrooms and maybe a few bacon lardons.

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