Varietal of the month: pinot noir

  • How to explore pinot noir

    Pinot noir is the doyen of the lighter red wine grapes. Some consider that it makes the world’s best wines, full stop. Here, James Halliday walks us through one of his favourite wine styles, demystifying pinot noir for wine novices and enthusiasts alike.

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  • Pinot noir: the wine they drink in heaven

    "It’s an old line, I know, but pinot noir is the wine they drink in heaven," says James Halliday. "At a more prosaic level, it’s why I moved from Sydney to Melbourne (ostensibly for my law firm) in 1983 (in reality to get nearer to the Yarra Valley) and why I am part of five families who own a small house in Burgundy."

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  • A guide to cellaring pinot noir

    Not too long ago we might have suggested that New World pinot noir generally drinks at its best in the first few years after its release, but with older vines, better sites and more accomplished winemaking, that is no longer the case. New World pinot noir is now a good cellaring option.

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  • Destemming versus whole bunch

    Two Australian winemakers go head to head, telling us how they are approaching the winemaking process by using whole-bunch and de-stemmed fruit. 

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  • Food-friendly pinot noirs

    Ranging from cherry-red, fruit-forward numbers to those with earthier, savoury notes, pinot is equally at home with grilled salmon, mushrooms, and game meats such as duck and quail. It can also handle a touch of spice, so if you’d prefer a red wine with your Thai take-out, pinot is the one to grab. Here are a dozen of the finest from James’ latest tasting notes, all rated 90-plus points.

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  • Secret pinot society

    Campbell Mattinson on the thrill of the hunt: "In the rare wine realm, pinot noir holds a special spot. The most coveted cabernet-based wines of the world, out of Bordeaux in France, are made in the tens and hundreds of thousands of dozens. Meanwhile, the most coveted pinot noir-based wines of the world, out of Burgundy in France, are made in the hundreds or perhaps thousands of bottles."

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  • The latest pinot reviews

    Here at Halliday we love our pinot noir. Its complexity of flavour and ability to pair with food makes it a favourite for any night of the week. Here are 12 of the smartest new pinots from James’ latest tasting notes, including an exclusive selection not yet available on

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  • Burgundy's golden boy

    Burgundian Benjamin Leroux refuses to make any distinction between the grapes he grows and those he purchases. 'I put my name to all the wines I make.' In this, and in his desire to progressively move to screwcaps for all his wines (market opportunities permitting), he is on all fours with many small, quality conscious winemakers in Australia.

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  • 12 pinot noirs to try

    While it may be lighter in colour than many of its red wine counterparts, pinot noir leads the charge in the complexity stakes. This notoriously fickle varietal prefers a cooler climate, and some of Australia’ s best examples hail from the Bellarine Peninsula, Macedon Ranges, the Mornington Peninsula and the Yarra Valley. Here's a dozen of the finest from James’ latest tasting notes.  

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  • Burgundy dinner

    James gives a blow-by-blow account of the memorable Chardonnay Pinot Noir 15 Dinner, hosted by Gary and Julie Hounsell at the Healesville Hotel. "A quartet of 1985 red Burgundies followed with a tried and true match of duck breast, red cabbage, celeriac, chard and house-smoked pancetta. There were two Domaine de la Romanee-Conti Echezeaux and Richebourg to provide the book ends for the flight…"

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  • Celebrating 30 years of Coldstream Hills

    Three decades have passed since James Halliday’s passion lured him from the legal world to winemaking. Choosing cool climate pinot noir and chardonnay as his focus, he planted a vineyard at Coldstream Hills in the Yarra Valley in 1985, and set about crafting exceptional wines. Writer, wine judge and vigneron, his inspiring story will captivate anyone who aspires to a good life filled with great wine. This video is a tribute to an icon of the Australian wine industry.

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  • On the pinot trail in Oregon

    Notoriously one of the world’s most fickle varieties, winemakers persevere with pinot noir because when made well and to critical acclaim, it’s the equivalent of graduating from the Secret School of Talented Winemakers. But in order to give themselves the best possible chance of making pinot noir well, winemakers need to position themselves in a place where it sings rather than sulks. The US state of Oregon is such a place. 

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  • The Vincast with Tom Carson

    The Intrepid Wino, James Scarcebrook, interviews Tom Carson of Yabby Lake, who over the past 20 years has established a place in the industry not only for his exceptional skills as a vigneron but also his innovative business insights. This episode of The Vincast interview covers his origins, his studies and his path in the industry that has led him to putting pinot noir back on the map.

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  • From baby steps to Giant Steps

    James Halliday looks back on the birth of Giant Steps: "When owner Phil Sexton sought permission to build the Innocent Bystander winery on the side of the Maroondah Highway, well within the boundary of the Healesville township, there were plenty of mumbles and grumbles from residents and other anti-progress activists."

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