John Forrest is a former rugby player and Ph.D. scientist from New Zealand who did research at San Diego’s Salk Institute in the 1980s, caught the winemaking bug, and returned home to establish the Forrest Estate Winery and several years later be named the New Zealand Winemaker of the Year. He’s one of the pioneering winemakers who put New Zealand on the wine lover’s map. We recently met with him and tasted through his wines. Today he has a total of 130 hectares of vines in nine different vineyards and makes wine under several different labels. The Forrest and Doctors labels are wines made from the Marlborough area. Tatty Bogler wines are from Central Otago, and Cornerstone is from Hawkes Bay. Some of John’s Pinot Noir fruit comes from the Waitaki Valley in Otago. With its limestone soils, it’s New Zealand’s hottest new area for Pinot Noir.
The Forrest 2011 Sauvignon Blanc shows ripe citrus with a touch of nettles. At just $19, it’s an excellent value. The Doctor’s 2011 Sauvignon Blanc is herbal with a black currant note; its 8 g of residual sugar leaves a touch of sweetness on the finish. TattyBogler 2010 Pinot Gris is soft and creamy with light stone fruit notes. It’s an easy drinking wine without the high acidity of many Pinot Grigios. The most unusual wine of the tasting was the Doctors’ 2009 Riesling, which has just 8.5% alcohol. It’s classic Riesling in style with a touch of petrol and ripe stone fruit and no perception of sweetness despite quite high residual sugar. It’s New Zealand’s largest selling Riesling for good reason.
We tasted two Pinot Noirs. The Forrest 2009 Pinot Noiris a delicious and surprising
complex wine for the price ($25), showing ripe cherry fruit with forest floor notes. The Tatty Bogler 2009 Pinot Noir is a blend of fruit from Bannockburn in Central Otago and from Waitaki. It was our favorite wine of the tasting with its purity and dark cherry and earth aromas and flavors. It doesn’t have the tutti frutti character of some Otago Pinots.
We ended the tasting with the Forrest 2011 Estate Botrytis Riesling. This is a sumptuous sweet wine with a strong botrytis character, honeyed stone fruit, and superb sugar/acid balance. At $25, it’s a steal.
John Forrest’s wines are imported by Pacific Prime Wines
Mike Potashnik and Don Winkler