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edited by Sue Courtney

A Man For All Rieslings
A Riesling tasting with Dr John Forrest
© Sue Courtney
1 Sep 2008

When fanatic Riesling winemaker Dr John Forrest, of Forrest Estate Wines, was in Auckland for Wine New Zealand, he took time out to host a tasting of a selection of his current and aged released Marlborough Rieslings at Point Wines in Northcote. When I heard the tasting was on, I pulled out all stops to attend and it was absolutely worth it.

John spoke of his love for Riesling and how Riesling can be picked from almost under-ripe to lusciously ripe and raisined to make the diverse range of styles. Thus he has seven different styles of wine currently available. They include new release and aged dry Rieslings; two medium styles - one generic and one from his absolutely best grapes; a Germanic Kabinett /Spatlese influenced style; a late harvest; and a botrytis affected sweetie. He said it is important to explain the styles on the front or back label, as Rieslings are challenging to drink if you get the wrong one, especially is you are especially a medium style and get a dry.

All the wines are closed with screwcaps. Forrest was an early adopter in the screwcap revival era, the change being driven by the high failure rate that Forrest Estate was experiencing with cork.

The pricing is from Point Wines and reflects the range between their special price on the evening and their norm.

Wines were tasted in pairs and food was provided to match.

Flight One

Forrest Wairau Valley Dry Marlborough Riesling 2007
Dry, crisp, limey scents -very fresh in the context of Forrest's dry styles, which I usually taste with a little age. Talcy, almost slatey, crisp and pure, green apple fruit with a subtle tropical and almost saline tang. It fleshes out beautifully in the mouth with exotic earthy fruits and a fruit sweetness that lingers with an underlying shimmery verve.
12.2% alc. 4 g/L residual sugar. 6.7 grams/L acidity. $22-$25.

Forrest Estate "The Valleys" Dry Marlborough Riesling 2001
This library release is the first wine that Forrest Estate bottled under screwcap. Showing more obvious golden hues, the aroma is developed and hinting of marmalade with talc and a delicate floral perfume. There's a full flourish of citrussy zest and spice in the palate - becoming quite voluminous - almost oily - with a steely slatey crispness and always that dry limey character with fruit sweetness balancing it beautifully.
12.5% alc. $22-$25.

A selection of cheeses was on the table to try with these wines. I didn't try them.

Flight Two

Forrest Estate Marlborough Riesling 2007
Light straw gold coloured. Lemon and lime on the nose together with a hint of flower and ripe apple. A lovely medium-styled Riesling with lightly tropical fruit and again that steely, slatey undercurrent but with sweetness add more volume and immediate approachability to the palate. Beautifully balanced with good length, it is drinking well already. It was matched to a cooked prawn, which would be excellent with a sweet chilli sauce dip. John Forrest recommends crabmeat and chilli too.
13% alc. 14g/L residual sugar. 7.1 grams/L acidity. $16-$20.

John Forrest Collection Marlborough Riesling 2005
This is made from the very best grapes. It is more like a 'dry' on the nose with a hint of kero - a character I did not pick up in the 2001. Juicy fruit in the palate has a talc overlay and again the hallmark crisp steely undercurrent. This wine gets better every time I taste it - it has a complex evolving flavour profile and is juicy and very long. Matched to a white fleshed seafood marinated in lime, chilli and coconut milk, this enhanced the wine's zestiness and coaxed out a touch of ginger too. 12% alc. 11.2 g/L residual sugar. 8.4 grams/L acidity. $46-$50.

Flight Three

Forest Estate Doctor's Marlborough Riesling 2007
Pale. Potter's clay on nose and slightly lemony and pithy but overall very shy in releasing its scent. Beautiful balance of sweet apple and citrus-like fruit and crisp fresh acidity but it really is the sweetness that carries this wine. The stoney / slatey theme continues with a slight graininess to the texture and the aftertaste is juicy and long. A refreshing, lip-smacking wine. The match was oysters but I didn't try them. It has just 8.5% alc with 30g/L residual sugar balancing a high 9 grams/L acidity. $18-$20.

Forrest Estate Late Harvest Marlborough Riesling 2005
Light yellow gold. Beautiful apricot, honey and "Rose's Lime Marmalade" scent. There is not botrytis as it is made to express the super ripe grapes but again it has that exciting underlying acidity and verve. 8.5% alc. 97g/L residual sugar.
Both this and The Doctor's were an exciting match to a little 'short pastry' tart filled with lemon-infused cream cheese topped with salmon tartare and stands of lemon zest.

Flight Four

Forrest Estate Botrytised Marlborough Riesling 2006
A rich gold colour. Toffee and slightly woody notes on the nose, perhaps a hint of VA. Fabulous, mouth-coating, nectar-like fleshy fruit flavours with rich orange honey and dried apricots and decidedly crisp acid and verve. The key to the success of this wine, as well as it being so lusciously sweet, is the acidity that ensures the lingering aftertaste is fresh. 9% alc. 220g/L residual sugar. $31-$35.
This is perhaps the most awarded sweet wine ever made in New Zealand - it received its 5th trophy and 12th gold medal at San Francisco earlier this year. This was a perfect accompaniment to Orange or Lemon Turkish Delight.

Forrest Estate Botrytised Marlborough Riesling 2003
Quite copper in colour, this has a mesmerisingly magnetic aroma that is deeply honeyed with butter toffee, dried apricot and orange. The flavour is rich and full but unexpected that it is so powerfully spicy. It has tight acidity and again, some V.A. - a gorgeous match to a tart lemon honey filled tart. 10% alc. >200g/L residual sugar. $40-$46.

This tasting demonstrated exactly why Forrest Estate is included in the Top Ten Riesling Producers of the last ten years.

Copyright Sue Courtney
Sep 2008

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