I LIKE surprises of the vinous kind, when you open a bottle expecting nothing more than mediocrity but you ‘discover’ something good. My case in point is an inexpensive pinot noir from the Languedoc.

Bearing in mind that good pinot noir is rarely affordable and considering that it is not a grape that is associated with the region, La Grange Le Haut Pinot Noir 2011, Pays d’Oc, is impressive.

It is balanced, velvety smooth and floral, with cherries, liquorice, cinnamon and it is not too heavy on the alcohol at 12.5 percent. Shut your eyes and pretend it is Burgundy.

If you prefer New World, then stylistically, Edna Valley Pinot Noir 2012 is quite different. It is Californian and a little louder and more extrovert than its Gallic counterpart. The grapes used for this wine come from vineyards, in the Central Coast region, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

It is a good pinor noir to take to a barbecue, with its concentrated, sweet-edged flavours of cherry, plums, cola, cinnamon, vanilla and fresh acidity.

Or if you want a real treat, splash out on Lowburn Ferry Home Block Pinot Noir 2012 from Central Otago, New Zealand: a gold medal winner in this year’s International Wine Challenge.

It is concentrated and complex stuff, with fruit pastille flavours of cherry and blackcurrant, spices, minerals and notes of toasty oak, held together by some very fine tannins. It is still very young though, so for best results cellar this one for at least another year.

La Grange Le Haut Pinot Noir 2011, Pays d’Oc, £8.29 from adnams.co.uk 18/20

Edna Valley Pinot Noir 2012, £8.99 (when you buy two) at Majestic 18/20

Lowburn Ferry Home Block Pinot Noir 2012, Central Otago, £32.95 from cambridgewine.com 18/20

Derventio Wines, in Malton, is holding a Late Summer Wine Tasting this Thursday (August 28) starting at 7.30pm. It promises to be “informative yet informal” and includes a selection of cheeses and biscuits to nibble and a glass of fizz on arrival. To reserve a place telephone Lynn on 01653 602037. Tickets cost £12 per person.