When it comes to matching wine with food, which is more an art than a science, it ultimately comes down to personal choice.

On one hand there are no hard and fast rules, on the other some pairings work perfectly.
For example, it's widely recognised that pinot noir works superbly with duck.

The delicate flavour of duck ought not to be overwhelmed with a big, brooding wine such as shiraz or a Bordeaux cabernet sauvignon dominant style.

Pinot, a more gentle varietal often possessing earthy savoury characters, is happy to play a "supporting role".


Here are my top three pinot noir picks for the week:

2011 Grasshopper Rock Pinot Noir - $30

From Alexandra and one of the southernmost vineyards in the world, the vines here are now 10 years old, producing excellent pinot noir at a reasonable price. It has a medium-bodied style, with concentrated sweet fruit flavours and an underlying dried herb complexity, silky tannins, and big aromas of violets, cherry and ripe plum.

2012 Mount Riley Seventeen Valley Pinot Noir - $37

This is the top-tier pinot from an established Marlborough producer. The Seventeen Valley site produces wines with rich dark fruits and big concentration. It's opulent with great structure and plenty of swagger. Look for fine tannins and balanced acidity as well as secondary characters of dried herbs, earthiness and toasted spice. This
will be good until 2020.

2011 Cloudy Bay Pinot Noir - $45 to $55

Having conquered the known wine world with its Marlborough sauvignon blanc, Cloudy Bay ably demonstrates its ability with a pinot noir of equal status. It's a wine with a lot going on - cherries, cinnamon, sweet leather, tobacco, herbs and mushroom.
All wrapped in a bundle of ripe red fruits and savoury spice.