Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Have Yourself a Maréchal Foch Christmas

After last night's successful opening of an older (for BC wines) Okanagan Merlot, I figured why not try for two '06 wins in a row. I was just as interested in seeing how this bottle will have aged because we don't run across - let alone drink - aged Maréchal Foch very often.

And, for the second night running, luck was on our side. 

1832.  2006 Quails' Gate Old Vines Foch (VQA Okanagan Valley)

Unless you're familiar with Canadian wines or those of the more northern US wine regions, you may not be familiar with the Maréchal Foch grape. Indeed, it's pretty much found only in niche wines up here in Canada. Very few vineyards grow the grape any more and even fewer wineries still make wine from it - let alone make a varietal wine. I can't say that I know anything about Ontario producers but there's only a handful of them here in BC - with Quails' Gate, Sperling, Alderlea and Summerhill being perhaps the best known.

Interestingly enough, I wrote a post on Quails' Gate Foch all the way back at #210 on The List when I added a bottle of the Quals' Gate 2002 Reserve Foch. As such, given my proclivity for falling behind on my posts, it might be just as easy to leave a link to that bottle and a bit of a story on the winery and grape.

I was a little surprised to see that the Maréchal Foch grape merited a full page in Jancis Robinson's tome Wine Grapes. That's quite a reference for a North American hybrid grape that sees such limited production. However, I think a blog post by Ontario wine writer, Tony Aspler, was the tidiest reference on the grape that my quick searches found. I'm not going to try and out-write a writer. So, I'll just take a slice of his post and set it out here: "They are the blue-collar grapes, the early-ripening, winter-hardy, heavy-bearing hybrids that lack the finesse, the breed and the delicate dispositions of Old Europe's noble vinifera varieties. (You know these as Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot et al.) Yet the contemporary Canadian wine industry owes Baco and Foch more than a debt of gratitude because they replaced the unlamented Concord and other labrusca varieties that made our wines undrinkable."

Apparently, it's not the easiest grape to grow for quality winemaking and most of the old Maréchal Foch vines have been pulled from Okanagan vineyards. Quails' Gate has found, however, that their wine has quite the cult following. They, therefore, have no plans to stop their production.

I find the grape to produce a big, tannic wine with smoky, dark fruit on the palate. Those notes were all still noticeable on the Quails' Gate but I think the aging helped to smooth out the edges on the wine. This has been a favourite of Boo's over the years. So, we're hoping to have some more Foch-full holidays to come.

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