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Best pinot noir 2024: Make the most of this light and bright red wine

Whether you’re at a BBQ, a party or just relaxing at home, we’ve found the best pinot noir to sip and savour

The light, bright and juicy character of pinot noir has made it one of the most enduringly popular red wines around. Wines made from pinot noir grapes are famously fresh and drinkable, yet sophisticated, pairing well with many foods or enjoyed alone.

However, with styles of pinot noir varying significantly depending on where the wine was made, its age and the winemakers’ preferences, it can be hard to choose the right bottle for you. Whether you’re looking for a summery wine to sip at your next barbeque, are after a special occasion red, or fancy trying something a bit different to your usual Rioja or Malbec, we’ve rounded up a stellar selection of delicious pinot noir that ticked our boxes. Enjoy.


Best pinot noir: At a glance

How to choose the best pinot noir for you

What is pinot noir?

pinot noir is a black-skinned red grape native to France’s famous Burgundy region (where good pinot noir can command eye-watering prices) that’s now grown all over the world. It is also one of the few grapes allowed to be made into champagne. The juice of the pinot noir grape is white, as the colour comes from the skins.

pinot noir is a tricky grower, and is at its best in cool climates. Wines from France, Chile, New Zealand and cooler parts of Europe and the US are usually, therefore, considered the best quality. Well-made pinot noir should be light ruby red – often with a transparency to it – and bursting with lots of fresh fruit flavours while still very dry. pinot noir is best served slightly chilled and can be enjoyed alongside chicken, turkey and particularly duck, although stronger seafood also works well. Steer clear of rich, powerfully flavoured dishes, which can overpower this delicate and refined red.

What should I look for?

Burgundian pinot noir is seen as the benchmark. It tends to have good acidity, with fine fruit flavours of cherries and berries, and subtler notes ranging from earthiness and spice to herbaceous or woody tastes, which can be extremely complex.

Outside of the Burgundy region, the character of pinot noir depends hugely on the terroir (climate and growing conditions of the vines) and winemakers’ methods. So, while cool climate versions from big pinot noir-producing countries such as Romania, Austria and Germany will still often have the same lively fruitiness to them, they also have a deeper savoury character. Warmer regions such as Australia and California produce quite a different wine: riper, rounder and less bright. If the wine has been aged in oak barrels, expect a more mature, softer style with a hint of vanilla.

How much should I spend?

pinot noir from Burgundy commands high prices, and is not necessarily always good value for money. Its unending popularity and the difficulty involved in growing successful pinot noir grapes means that prices per bottle usually start at around £20 and can easily run into the hundreds for a celebrated label. Good vintages (where the conditions have been great for a specific year of bottling) are also renowned for their ability to fetch high prices. However, the good news is that a great bottle of pinot noir can easily be had for pocket money prices: Romanian pinot noir is famously good value, as is Chilean, and even French bottles can offer competitive value outside of Burgundy.

How we test pinot noir

We test every pinot noir that comes across our desk the only way possible – by tasting it. We look for typical, or surprising, aromas on the nose, give extra points for bright, berry-red clarity, and taste for the winemaker’s flavour notes, as well as hopefully discovering a few of our own. The best way to ensure we are delivering the truest picture of great pinot noir, is by tasting each sample alongside many others. This helps us to rule out those not quite hitting the right notes and allowing the best of the bunch to stand out against more mediocre wines. The testing process also considers the style of wine. No one is going to expect an old world Burgundian style pinot noir from a Romanian producer, but it is by no means any less valid in our recommendations.

Personal taste preferences are important in our testing, too. One person’s “light and bright” is another person’s blackcurrant squash on steroids, which is why we recruit a small group of wine enthusiasts to try alongside us, ensuring our list has a range of crowd-pleasing favourites and more esoteric choices. Our resulting list is an exciting foray into the world of pinot noir, with something for diehard French fans and new world adventurers alike.

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The best pinot noir you can buy in 2024

1. Balfour Hush Heath Luke’s Pinot Noir: The best English pinot noir

Price: £30 | Buy now from Laithwates

Hush Heath’s vineyards nestled in the Kent countryside may be better known for their multi-award-winning sparkling wine (the sparkling rosé is truly brilliant), but the sunny but cool climate has also proved a winner for red iterations of pinot noir. Created from grapes planted specifically for still wine production, this classy red is one of the UK’s best, and it easily stands up to New World comparisons.

Available in Michelin-starred restaurants such as Tom Kerridge’s Hand & Flowers, Luke’s pinot noir brings bouquets of red fruit and a pleasant cleanness that allows the subtle, crunchy raspberry and redcurrant notes to shine. This wine has been aged in French and American oak and spicy vanilla abounds, making it a wine to sip and savour.

We like this briefly chilled with crisps and nuts, but the winemaker’s recommendation for game would also allow those English fruit flavours to unfurl. A beautiful wine for which it’s worth reaching a bit deeper into your pockets.

Buy now from Laithwates

2. Pueblo Eden Pinot Noir Rosé: The best rosé pinot noir

Price: £13 | Buy now from Wanderlust Wines

pinot noir isn’t just champagne and reds; some light skin contact gives us this blossom pink rosé for an innovative take on the grape, hailing all the way from Uruguay. The altitude, mountainous soil profile and nearby Atlantic provide the right conditions for these organically and sustainably farmed pinot noir vines to thrive, and for the fruit to ripen without going over to jamminess. The Pueblo Eden winery is state of the art, with an ageing cellar embedded into the mountain for natural and perfect control of light, temperature and humidity.

Made in a European style (read: subtle), this pinot noir is a world away from the usual intense coloured rose, and even further still from delicate pale Provences. Instead, this wine is fresh and clean with that characteristic pinot noir cherry and raspberry. At the same time, a strong minerality and a slight savouriness give it a grown-up elegance that you may not expect. This will be no surprise to anyone who has bought any of the exciting, unusual and far flung wines from specialists Wanderlust Wines before. Spectacular with salads and any light meats.

Buy now from Wanderlust Wines

3. Incanta Pinot Noir 2020/2021 Romania: The best-value pinot noir

Price: £7.99 | Buy now from Majestic

Love pinot noir but not the old world price tag? Romania is the place to look for stylish, stand-out, yet inexpensive wines you’ll love. Grapes have been grown in the Romanian Incanta vineyard since 1447, and over the past 30 years growers have formed a cooperative to produce their delicious wines in volumes suitable for export.

We’re happy they have. This 2020 Vintage Incanta scored highly for us with its super-light, berry-packed juiciness that gave it a summery, easy-drinking aspect perfect for a party wine. It doesn’t give away much on the nose but, once chilled, this clear, cherry-coloured wine has all the signature fresh pinot noir flavours present and correct, plus a hint of cinnamon and black pepper for good measure. It’s not complex, but who says it has to be? Enjoy with charcuterie and plenty of cheer.

Buy now from Majestic

4. Errazuriz Estate Reserva Pinot Noir: The best unusual pinot noir

Price: £9.99 | Buy now from Majestic

We’re going to put this out there: this is a love it or hate it wine. We’re in the former camp, seduced by the complexity and value of this Chilean pinot noir, where the cool climate of the Aconcagua region and Pacific winds, plus all the sunshine, create crisp, bright wines that allow for a pure expression of their terroir.

It’s this terroir that is the overriding flavour of this wine: tons of earthiness and forest floor notes plus smoke – all of which are desirable and should be pronounced in a classic pinot noir – tethered with delicate strawberries, cherries and crunchy redcurrant notes. There’s also a smattering of oak in there, too.

If you’re after something easy drinking with straightforward fruit then this isn’t it, but there’s much to love in this tart, interesting bottle. It must be chilled, and its robust character means it stands up to richer and stronger dishes better than most pinot noir. Try with barbecued salmon or tuna or deep gamey flavours.

Buy now from Waitrose Cellar

5. Le Penombre Pinot Noir Tete de Cuvee 2020: best classic pinot noir

Price: £12.99 | Buy now from Virgin Wines

This is a brilliant French pinot noir, but it’s not from Burgundy. Instead, this quality wine is made using grapes from cool and temperate regions around Limoux, and the fruit is picked outside of daylight hours to ensure that its fresh, crisp character is retained – hence the wine’s name (Le Penombre translates as ‘twilight’). Their evening picking has done the trick: this 2020 pinot noir is aromatic and zippy with wild strawberries and raspberries aplenty, and a bright, clear rosy colour that shows off its youth. Expressive on the nose, with violets and raspberries tempting you in, we enjoyed the light tannins, which made for a velvety smooth sip. There’s even more fruit as the wine opens up: red apples, cherries and a lingering dry finish. Chill briefly and drink with friends on a hot, balmy night.

Buy now from Virgin Wines

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