New range passes the taste test

NEIL HODGSON
Last updated 12:53 02/03/2012

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Neil Hodgson's wine column

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A couple of weeks ago I was invited to lunch by John Forrest from Forrest Estate in Marlborough and his local man on the ground, Lindsay Duff. I joined a couple of supermarket wine buyers at Nelson's Harbour Light Bistro to taste the new-release Forrest Estate range of wines the way they are meant to be consumed – with food.

Before the others arrived I sat down with John to run through the range and talk to him about the stuff I find really interesting but others find a bit boring. While most people just want to know what a wine tastes like, I always try to work out why a wine tastes the way it does.

Where were the grapes grown? What are the soil types? How heavy was the crop (big isn't always good)? What was the weather like at harvest time? How were the grapes treated in the winery? And on and on the questions go; no wonder Sari wanders off when I start talking to winemakers!

But back to Forrest wines; the reason I like talking to John is because he is always trying to deliver something different, is always trying to extract the very best he can from his vineyards, and above all is always striving to deliver a great-tasting wine to you, the consumer.

As you would expect from a premium Marlborough winery, Forrest has a very good sauvignon blanc in the lineup, but one little surprise was the Forrest Estate Doctor's Sauvignon Blanc. At just 9 per cent alcohol this is significantly lower than what I will call normal sauvignon, which checks in at about 13 per cent.

Because alcohol comes from fermented sugars, the real challenge for producers of low-alcohol sauvignon blanc is to get ripe flavours in the wine, not green and unripe sharp acid flavours.

In this case, I think John has just about cracked the challenge with his attention to detail in the vineyards.

The Doctor's Sauvignon Blanc is a great expression of Marlborough sauvignon blanc without any harsh greenness and is packed with bright, fresh flavours. It smells like summer in a glass and the flavours have a twist of spiced-pear character that fills out the mid-palate nicely.

While Forrest has added a yet to be released new red variety to the Forrest stable (more about that soon), John's passion for riesling shines like a star when you taste the 2011 Forrest Botrytised Riesling.

I love dessert-style wines and this is a cracker; beautifully ripe stonefruit flavours with sweet honey characters and a wee zest of citrus to make sure it isn't too sickly sweet. A fantastic wine packed with complexity and exceptionally well-balanced.

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Based on the tasting we experienced, you can rely on Forrest wines to deliver not just good value but great quality.

To find out about the full range of Forrest Estate current release wines go to www.forrest.co.nz.

I have been drinking

Eden – $14.99 at Liquor King

The good folk at Liquor King have had this fresh summer sparkling wine made for them to meet demand from customers. Blush-pink in colour with nice fresh strawberry, crisp apple flavours and just a squeeze of lemon this low alcohol (6.5 per cent) wine has a clean, fresh finish and is perfect for easy summer lunchtime drinking.

Remarkable 2008 Bannockburn Pinot Noir – $24.99

Produced in Central Otago, matured for 12 months in French oak barrels then bottle aged for another couple of years, this wine has all the characters we have grown to love in Central Otago pinots. Juicy berryfruit characters with currant and soft black cherry flavours and layers of fine tannin and toasty oak complexity add up to this being a very good example of Central Otago pinot noir at a great price.

- Nelson

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