John's 60th Birthday

A few days ago saw us celebrate “60 years of Dr. John Forrest”. It started with a staff bbq on Thursday night here at Forrest Wines. John was gifted a t-shirt printed with “I hope my Rieslings age this well" but I think many of us know his renowned Rieslings might in fact have the upper hand on that one! 

The recommenced on Friday morning at 5am with John heading out on a Forrest family boy’s deep sea fishing trip. Sadly there wasn’t a groper to be seen but guaranteed laughs and latherings of banter; probably enough to sink a ship.

John’s actual birthday was on Saturday. Family and friends gathered here at Forrest Wines for a wonderful evening of food and wine; upholding John’s mantra that “wine and food are the essentials for a good life”. The evening included beautiful speeches from John’s bothers and university friends. It was a chance to reflect on some of the notable things John has achieved in the last 60 years; namely the establishment of Forrest Wines in 1988, his role in low alcohol wine research, sustainability and screw caps.

On a more personal note it was a chance to celebrate his partnership with wife Brigid and their 3 children Reid, Beth and Sam. The kids took us through a slide show of photos from his early days in Koromiko, to his days at Otago University, his travels around the world; as well as all the hair styles and fashion statements in between. There was a reoccurring item in many photos; a blue leather jacket that first appeared in the 70’s during John’s days courting Brigid at Otago University. Amazingly the jacket still lives on and is in pristine condition! Not quite the comfortable fit it once was but that is John’s challenge before his 61st birthday.

We traversed some beautiful vintages from Forrest Wines and some exquisite food matches - it truly was a Forrest marathon event. The menu focused on local produce, in particular sweet Marlborough crayfish and fresh kingfish from the Marlborough Sounds. All the wines were stunning but if we have to pick a couple of standouts then the 2008 John Forrest Collection Waitaki Chardonnay should be mentioned for its powerful weight and refined buttery, creamy and toasty flavours on the palate. Enjoyed with traditional French onion soup it was superb.

The standout red of the night was the 2004 John Forrest Collection Cabernet  Sauvignon, an intense experience of ripe black fruits with spice and a touch of savouriness; rich and weighty it is a tremendous example of pure Gimblett Gravels Cabernet at its best.

If you have either of these wines in the cellar, or any of the wines in the menu, then John’s recommendation is to enjoy them now - they are simply divine and time has only enhanced their flavour profile and palate complexity.

As with every Forrest family gathering, the night ended with everyone dancing to Old Crow Medicine Show’s song Wagon Wheel….. not once but 2 or 3 times in a row. Throughout the year we will keep you posted on John and that blue leather jacket as well as more back vintage information on those Forrest Wines you might have nestled away in your cellar.


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