The Independent

Bouchard Finlayson galpin peak pinot noir: £31.45, Honest Grapes


This might not be your average weekday bottle, but you won’t regret splurging on this outstandin­g, velvety red – especially if you love classic burgundies. Grown in clay-rich soils in Bouchard Finlayson’s vineyards in Western Cape, the grapes are planted in tightly packed rows, which causes competitio­n between the vines and results in more colourful fruit and eventually more complex wines.

An elegant, powerful red, it’s full of dark red berry aromas with lingering floral notes. On the palate, deep balanced flavours include cherries, plums and even a trace of leather with wonderful acidity and a long, expressive finish. It will also keep well for around five years, making it a great gift for anyone who really appreciate­s good wine.

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M&S Classics South African pinotage: £8, Ocado

This is a cracking example of South Africa’s signature grape, and you can pick up a bottle for less than a tenner. Made using sustainabl­y farmed grapes by winemaker Leon Esterhuize­n in Swartland, it’s also Fairtrade-certified and a smooth, full-bodied delight to drink.

A dramatic, dark purple colour in the glass, it’s not one for the faint-hearted but brims with intense flavours of plum, blackcurra­nt and cherries. There’s a touch of spice and a hint of smoke to make things even more interestin­g, while oak adds complexity. We’d serve it alongside roast lamb or a meaty pasta dish, such as lasagne, for the perfect night in.

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The verdict

We were bowled over by the quality of all the South African wines we tested. While we’d happily buy any of them again, our favourite white was the restrained but complex Raats bush vine chenin blanc limited release 2021, which wowed us with its surprising flavours and oaky depth. We’re also smitten by Journey’s End methode cap classique brut reserve, a crisp and elegant fizz that’s more than a match for champagne.

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