2006 The White, The John Forrest Collection, Marlborough, South Island, New Zealand (£16.99, Adnams tel. 01502 727222 & www.adnams.co.uk).
Many moons ago (in May 2004, I think?) I had dinner with a few high level wine wizards in London. The venue was Kensington Place – stunning food, great wine, Jeff Grosset (Clare Valley Riesling fame), John Forrest (read on), Tyson Stelzer (who later became my co-author in Australia) and others. We debated long and hard over many delightful glasses of wine. I challenged John, ‘why are there no truly great NZ white wines, like those incredible blended whites from Northern Italy?’. We scratched our heads – everything NZ made was single variety and very few aged for more than twelve months. A year later John came over to London with loads of fresh made (un-bottled and un-blended) ’05 vintage wines from every one of his white varieties (Riesling, Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Gewurz, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Gris) and he challenged me, ‘blend the best white you can!’. A few hours later I had done just that – it looked lovely. John returned home and put it together (he tells me that it was very close to my effort!) and we came up with the name ‘The White’. 2005 The White is still ageing gracefully and, even though I say it myself, it is one of the alluring Kiwi whites I have ever tasted. I had no hand in this 2006, but it is incredible, and the 2007 which follows is perhaps the best ever. I cannot reveal the recipe, of course, but I can tell you that it is one of the most closely guarded secrets in the wine world and the value in the bottle is extraordinary!