Our Friends of Forrest club members turned up promptly for this special degustation meal eager to begin the dining experience. They were not disappointed!
Upon arrival each diner received a glass of the Doctors’ Remedy 2005 from the last 24 bottles we have at the winery. The amuse bouche served with this elegant bubbles was tempura fried mixed vegetables. The rich flavoured sparkling, balancing the delicate flavour of the tendon sauce and the tempura.
I gave a brief speech on the history of Forrest and how and why this dinner was created. It all started with a luncheon at the restaurant with our distributor, where I was blown away with the Japanese cuisine with a modern twist. My wife and I have dined at Soi a few times over the last 3 years and became good friends with Toru the owner/chef.
Toru has a rare gift for a chef able to marry the flavours of food with wine. I chose the wines for the dinner and he chose the food to match them.
The first course was the Dry Riesling 2007, chosen because, as John puts it, dry Riesling hits its sweet spot after 6 -7 years.
The second course was the one I was most looking forward to. The Doctors’ Arneis 2012 with the grilled tuna wing with ponzu sauce was simply an incredible marriage of flavours. Dynamite is combination of rice, mixed seafood with JP mayo and finished with Tobiko roe (flying fish eggs).
The third course was Toru’s favourite pairing and his love of the Forrest Semillon 2010 really showed with this combination. As an observer you would not think the wine would work with honey tender pork belly with grille pork dumpling. The dish was simply sublime and my favourite of the night.
The John Forrest Collection Waitaki Valley Pinot Noir 2010 was paired with the wagyu beef, teriyaki sauce and miso marinated beef cheek for the fourth course. By this stage you could say my senses were on overload. This pairing once again did not disappoint and the groans from the diners acknowledged that.
Our tummies were almost full by this stage, but the final course was the long anticipated tempura cheese cake with ice cream paired with our first vintage of Doctors’ Petit Manseng 2013. Petit Manseng originated in the South West of France and varies in styles from off dry to late harvest. Our 2013 is made in a late harvest style with 90 grams of residual sugar, it has flavours of pineapple and pear with a touch of grapefruit. The acidity balances out the sweetness and finishes with tangy mandarin.
The evening ended with Chef Toru thanking all for coming to his restaurant and received an enthusiastic applause for his incredible efforts. We were all overwhelmed by the dining experience and many commented that they had never dined at Soi before and would definitely be back. I have been involved in many degustation meals over the last 20 years and this one certainly ranked in the top 5 for me. We definitely have to do it again next year!