Pinot Noir, the greatest of the noble varieties, the famous grape of Burgundy (and Champagne) is one of the most difficult vines to work with. Pick too soon and your wine will be thin and astringent, leave it too late and it will be over-ripe and jammy. Get it right and it can produce sublime and sensuous wines. It’s Pinot’s capricious nature that makes it so popular: any winemaker, wherever they are, wants to prove they can make Pinot Noir. That’s why it’s grown in almost every wine region in the world – in many cases ill-advisedly, but in certain countries it produces wines that stand alongside Burgundy in quality.
Pinot Noir is also one of the most versatile wines for matching with food, and pairs particularly well with lamb, as Fiona Beckett writes in her latest column; the pairing of lamb with tart redcurrant sauce is exactly why the meat works also so well with Pinot. “The rarer the meat, the lighter the style,” writes Beckett, so classic Burgundies and younger New World Pinots will work best here.