Winemaker Tasting with Ken Forrester

Oh, Ken Forrester. You had me at “Cheers!” What. A. Night. South African Winemaker legend Ken Forrester joined us for his only Connecticut appearance, leading a group of 50 excited guests in tasting 7 of his most delicious wines. The room was enthralled by his magnetism, and his wine? Yeah, that was amazing too. Let’s talk about it!

Up first was a surprise write-in to the tasting – the Ken Forrester Sauvignon Blanc. He brought this one on his own, he was so excited for everyone to try it. It ended up being one of the most popular wines of the night! According to the Ken Forrester website, this wine “shows lovely complexity with mix of tangy grassy notes, fig leaf, and peach and nectarine nuances. Brisk acidity with minerality on the palate which is typical of the long hang time in our cool region.” To me, it had the typical Sauvignon Blanc minerality I’ve come to expect, but with a very fruity front. Absolutely delicious and a fantastic way to start the evening.

Then we moved on to the Chenin Blancs. Ken Forrester has reinvigorated the South African Chenin Blanc revolution, making some of the world’s best Chenin Blanc. We began with the Petit Chenin Blanc 2011, and for me, it was love at first sip. Ken Forrester describes it as “A youthful fresh wine with quince and pear drop flavours. Earlier picked freshness shows on palate with crunchy green apple and grapefruit flavours. Good mouthfeel and appetisingly tangy finish.” I could imagine sipping this one on the beach, under an umbrella. Every sip left me wanting another!

Next up Estate Reserve Old Vine Chenin Blanc 2011. This one definitely had a little more depth than the Petit version – Forrester’s website calls it “Golden hued and full bodied, with melon and spicy baked apple aromas. Layered, with mineral notes enhanced by honeycomb and caramel flavours from lees contact. This wine is a great example of the harmonious balance which can be achieved between fruit and delicate oak/vanilla flavours, as they combine to form complex, soft flavours with sufficient body to enhance even spicy and full flavoured meals.” You can really see the progression from the Petit to the Old Vine Reserve, and it only got better from here…

My pick of the night: The FMC. Oh, FMC. Forester Meinhert Chenin. You have ruined me for any other white wine. My first sip had me literally take a step back and go “woah.” That has never happened to me before! Seriously, seriously, creamy (seriously, guys!) Total velvet in the mouth. You’re getting the picture, right? Fruity up front, deep in the back. So complex, I could have sipped it all night long and found something new each time. Highly limited production – I am told only around 30 six packs of this make it into the US every year, which is sort of tragic in a way because I wish I could drink it every.single.night. And morning. You see where I’m going here. It’s amazing. Let’s move on.

The reds! We tasted two delicious reds, both from the Petit collection. First up, Petit Cabernet/Merlot blend. Spicy! Deep! Tasty! Surprisingly deep, as a matter of fact, espcially when you consider the price point of this one (all Petit’s go for $8.99/bottle!) We learned about the soils in South Africa, and how they are some of the oldest terrain in the world. The theory is that the soil gives South African wine a rich, flavorful depth present in many South African wines. Next up was the Pinotage, which is a really interesting blend of Pinot Noir and Hermitage. Pinotage was first planted in South Africa in the early 1900’s, so we have them to thank directly for this lovely, flavorful red! It was another hit of the evening – we totally sold out! Ken told us it would even be good chilled a bit, so feel free to give that a shot as well.

The Grand Finale was the “T” Noble Late Harvest, a dessert Chenin Blanc. First harvested as a special gift for his wife Theresa (hence, the “T”), it has become one of the most sought after wines in his line. From the beautiful gold filigree label he had designed especially for Theresa, to the sweet glazed peach, ginger and pear notes, this wine is truly special, and would make an amazing gift for the sweetheart in your life.

It was so amazing to hear Ken Forrester tell the stories behind his wine. Everything he does is for a specific, and often times meaningful, reason. He uses screw tops because research has shown that 1 out of 12 bottles of wine is contaminated by the cork. He also raises baby ducks on the vineyard, and when they are a few weeks old he releases them into the vineyard to eat up the nuisance snails that find their way into the vines. He even told us that sometimes, they eat so much and their bellies get so full that their feet no longer touch the ground and they kind of roll around a bit until they digest enough to eat some more! He is all about sustainability, and creating jobs in South Africa. South Africa’s unemployment rate is a staggering 40%, and so everything done in his vineyard is done by hired hand. He employs as many people as possible, and when he can’t offer someone full time work, he gets together with a few other people and between all of them they can find enough work for an individual. Isn’t that amazing?

 We were so pleased to host Ken Forrester, along with 50 of our clients, for an unforgettable evening. Thank you Ken. We hope to see you again soon!

Interested in ordering anything you see here? Call Amity Wine and Spirit, Co. in New Haven 866.406.9463. In the meantime, shop our website here.