One of the most-loved red wines, Pinot Noir is one of the oldest grape varieties in the world – native Pinot Noir vines were available in Burgundy (the birthplace of Pinot Noir) even before the Roman invasions during the first century AD.  Made well, Pinot Noir is one of the most captivating and complex of wines, with grip, complexity and intense, pure fruit. Typically, lighter in colour and tannins with fresh acidity, Pinots are loaded with red fruits such as raspberries and cherries, often developing savoury notes of wild mushroom, cured meats and forest floor as they age. A Pinot Noir is also the ultimate food-loving, and versatile wine, known to make a perfect pairing with a multitude of dishes.

In all its glory on the vine

In the Oscar winning script for the 2004 film “Sideways,” one of the characters says about Pinot Noir “Only somebody who really takes the time to understand pinot’s potential  can then coax it into its fullest expression, “ and how true it is. Notoriously difficult to work with, prone to diseases that other grapes ride over with ease, unpredictable in the extreme, it can be a knockout when in the hands of someone who knows what they are doing. Also from “Sideways”– “Oh its flavours, they are just the most haunting and brilliant –and thrilling and subtle —and ancient on the planet.” In wine making, time and effort mean money and this translates into some hefty prices for the very best Pinots. Nevertheless there are some out there that make a pretty good stab at it. I have chosen some which are in my opinion good value for money, but as in all things, you get what you pay for. The name comes from the French for pine tree and black, not because of the flavor but because the grapes form a bunch in the shape of a pine cone on the vine. All of them should be cooled down in the fridge for about 30 minutes before drinking.


A Platter Five Star knockout from this venerable estate –the domain of Peter Finlayson—in the Hemel en Aarde Valley. Complex and yet appealing, not so serious you can’t drink it, spicy, fruity and delicious, a perfect example of the best available here.


12 months on wood 35% new and the rest second and third fill, some spice on the nose especially cloves , deep garnet colour, complex and smooth with nuances of dried fruit especially apricots, irresistible.  Also from Hemel en Aarde.


Up the West Coast at Darling, from the highest hill on Groote Post which in Spring used to be covered in snow-like flowers, this delicious wine from wine maker Lukas Wentzel is voluptuous, packed with typical cherry flavours, with 15 months in oak resulting in easy going tannins.


Older, more serious,  matured for nine months in Burgundian barrels, spicy notes supporting, of course, cherries.


Upfront flavours of raspberries and cherries –and plenty of grapes—deep dark color, fragrant and easy to drink, eight months in third and fourth fill French barrels, well controlled tannins, a crowd pleaser. From Robertson.