Four pinot noirs to savour

If you're after a lighter red that still packs plenty of flavour and is a versatile partner for food, opt for pinor noir. James Hickson, co-owner and wine expert of The Royal, St Leonards-on-sea, chooses four of his favourites

The Grape

Forever associated with the Burgundy region of France, specifically Côte d'Or, this ancient variety of thin, black-skinned grape is used for not only the production of red wines but also world-class sparkling wines, including champagne. It's notorious for being hard to grow, with consistency hard to achieve.

The Taste

Obviously dependent on the region – and even vines from the same vineyard can produce different outcomes – but you can expect a lightness of touch. It's not a punch-in-the-face flavourful red, but you'll find cherries, raspberries and wild strawberries in younger bottles, and gamey, truffly flavours as it matures.

The Vines

Although Burgundy is home, Oregon and California are also famed for this red, with New Zealand now known for producing accessible bottles – albeit slightly less sweet. Austria and Germany have also been known to produce good-quality pinot noir, with the latter being the third biggest producer of the grape.

The Pairings

The brightness of flavour means you should avoid going heavy on sauces, but it's also adaptable and capable of coping with duck, grouse, hare, pheasant, venison, wild mushrooms, beef and even fatty fish (salmon and tuna). Given the variance in flavours, it's best to pick your pinot noir first, then find the food to match.

The Venue

The Royal occupies a historic corner of St Leonards, its site dating back to 1860. Today, it serves as a welcoming pub where seasonal produce, sophisticated dishes, and an impressive wine list have made it a lively hotspot for locals and visitors alike.

2017 Soli Pinot Noir Miroglio (Thracian Valley, Bulgaria)

It’s pretty hard to find good- value-for-money pinot noir in the way you might find a great syrah or grenache, but this Soli Pinot Noir imported by Swig Wines turns that on its head. It's not just great-value pinot, it's great-value wine, with brambly fruits and a moreish juiciness.

Available at:£12.95,

2017 Soli Pinot Noir Miroglio (Thracian Valley, Bulgaria)

2018 Bolney Pinot Noir (West Sussex, England)

For something local, try this Bolney Estate bottle which has been raising eyebrows, winning awards and earning much critical acclaim. It's a multifaceted wine for the dinner table, holding its own beside game birds but also working well with a ripe brie – it's also great without a meal.

Available at:£17.99,

2018 Bolney Pinot Noir (West Sussex, England)

2018 The Hermit Ram Whole Bunch Pinot Noir (North Canterbury, New Zealand)

Theo Coles is forging an exciting path for pinot noir in New Zealand, seeking out sites with active limestone soils, and producing gently extracted pinot that has delicate spice. Though considered a natural wine, the flavours in this one are classic.

Available at:£23.95,

2018 The Hermit Ram Whole Bunch Pinot Noir (North Canterbury, New Zealand)

2016 Blauburgunder Willi Bründlmayer (Langenlois, Austria)

It’s easy to be put off German and Austrian wine, with its infamously confusing classification system. This Blauburgunder, the Austrian name for pinot noir, is an exceptional one from Willi Bründlmayer, best known for his rieslings and grüner veltliners.

Available at:£POA,

2016 Blauburgunder Willi Bründlmayer (Langenlois, Austria)

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