Pinot Noir is a great wine for autumn - here are some to look out for

Having a husband working from home for months on end has turned this household’s drinking regime on its head.

Try a high-impact Pinot Noir from Otago.

He normally works in Switzerland, so it was a surprise that in mid March, when he flew home for a weekend, carrying only a few essentials, he was then prevented from going back. If he had known in advance that travel was restricted I am sure he would not have left his car at Basel airport. Whether it still has its wheels when he retrieves it in a couple of weeks’ time remains to be seen.

The upshot of his residence at home is that he starts work at 7am (8am Swiss time), and at 5pm he turns off his phone, closes his computer and heads to the kitchen where he prowls around expecting signs of dinner.

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And that is where the problem lies. There is a clear hour between the end of work and the start of dinner preparation, even if it is his turn to cook. He sometimes goes for a walk or occupies himself with jobs around the house, but quite often, on the justification that it is after 6pm in his working zone, he will pour himself a glass of wine – if there is something open.

Marimar Torres checking for quality at her Californian vineyard.

He prefers red wine, even in midweek, even at 5pm UK time, so my evenly balanced cellar has developed a distinct list to starboard. The reds have sustained considerable damage, while whites have been largely ignored, except during the heatwave when they were a vital part of keeping cool.

The compromise we have reached is Pinot Noir. Definitely red, definitely flavoursome, with a range of styles from Chile to Burgundy, it has an ability to sit alongside a whole range of foods, from salads and fish to roast meats, without missing a beat.

Now that autumn is on its way, although there are still some sunny days, the season seems to demand Pinot, for its bosky, fragrant aromas and, depending on its origin, for its power and finesse. So whether you pour a glass at 5pm or wait for a more conventional 6pm, here are a few suggestions.

Blueprint Romanian Pinot Noir 2019, Waitrose, £5.99: I poured this wine as the starting point for a flight of Pinots that went up to top-flight Burgundy, and while in no way did it challenge the expensive wines, it held its head up high, with fragrant strawberry fruit and a silky texture. A perfect wine to enjoy alongside a mid-week chicken dinner.

The Interlude Pinot Noir, 2019, Australia, Co-op, down from £7 to £6 until September 22: There is a small percentage of other grapes in with the Pinot which gives the wine more power, so it has deeper red fruit flavours, more black cherry and plums with a backbone that can take on red meat such as beef.

Cono Sur Bicicleta Pinot Noir 2019, Chile, Morrisons, down from £7.25 to £6 until October 6: My all-time favourite bargain entry-level Pinot and at this offer price you need to stock up. It provides lightweight, strawberry, cherry and plum fruit with just a hint of spice on the finish and is equally happy when served slightly chilled with fish or at room temperature with chicken, roasted fish or light pasta dishes. The bicycles in the name and on the label refer to the best way to get around this environmentally friendly estate.

Albert Road Pinot Noir 2019, South Africa, Waitrose, £9.49: An ordinary sounding wine until you hear who the winemakers are – Duncan Savage, who put Cape Point on the map and is now making his own wines, and Thys Louw, of the historic Diemersdal Estate. Together they source grapes from high-density, low-yielding vineyards and make delicious wines. This has an amazing aroma of juicy, red berry fruit and a touch of herbs with a palate that has structure and finesse. Try it with grilled duck breast.

Errazuriz Wild Ferment Pinot Noir 2019, Chile, Roberts & Speight, £12.99: Why wild ferment? It means that the grapes start off with a mix of yeasts from the vineyard which develop a whole range of background flavours. Then the usual alcoholic fermentation yeasts take over to finish off. The result is a complex, aromatic wine, and since these grapes come from cooler, coastal areas of Casablanca and Aconcagua valleys, the flavours are fresh and food–friendly. Try this with grilled lamb steaks.

Finest Central Otago Pinot Noir 2019, New Zealand, Tesco, £13: A high-impact Pinot with bags of dark plum and black cherry fruit, a definite sprinkle of baking spice and a firm but silky finish. This is big and complex enough to partner game or even the first casserole of the season.

Louis Guntrum Pinot Noir 2017, Rheinhessen, Germany, Field & Fawcett, £13.95: A wine that will challenge any prejudices you may have about German wine. It is red, delicious and it definitely isn’t sweet. Made by the Guntrum family, it has deep cherry and raspberry fruit and soft, clear freshness. Good with cheese, duck and lamb.

Escarpment The Edge Pinot Noir 2018, Martinborough, New Zealand, Harrogate Wines, £14.99: Made by Larry McKenna, who is widely known as Mr Pinot, since he was the first to prove that New Zealand could make world class Pinot. This is made from bought-in grapes, rather than grapes from the estate, but with Larry at the helm, the quality is just superb. As with all Escarpment wines, there is plenty of dark cherry fruit with notes of herbs, and a ripe, rounded palate.

Esk Valley Pinot Noir 2018, Marlborough, New Zealand, York Wines, £15.95: This comes from blustery sites in the Wairau and Awatere Valleys where cool temperatures and long sunny days produce grapes packed with bright, juicy, red plum and cherry fruits with depth of flavour and a long finish.

Marimar Estate La Masia Pinot Noir 2016, Russian River, California, Roberts & Speight, £19.99: New on the shelves in Beverley and at this price it won’t last long. This wine normally retails at considerably more, but I suspect that restaurant sales are down, and so, therefore, are prices. This is an Old World style, deep-flavoured, rounded wine with fruit, spice and structure in equal measures. Buy as much as you can carry.

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Thank you

James Mitchinson