Thursday, June 11, 2009
"I don't get no respect" is a line from the late Rodney Dangerfield and must surely be the sentiment of our grape friend, Marechal Foch. Marechal Foch is named after a French Marshall (military rank), Ferdinand Foch, from WWI who helped negotiate the armistice. The Foch grape is a hybrid and was developed by French viticulturist Eugene Kuhlmann in Alsace in the early 1920's and brought to the United States in the '50s.
Foch has grown widely in popularity in Canada and the United States, but is no longer grown by the Europeans because of hybrid restrictions. "Wines made from Marechal Foch tend to have strong acidity, aromas of black fruits and, in some cases, toasted wheat, mocha, fresh coffee, bitter chocolate, vanilla bean, and musk" (1).
In Iowa and parts of the Midwest, Marechal Foch has achieved a bad reputation because of its strong varietal characteristics, frequently with powerful vegetative overtones probably a result of poor enological practices (green stems in ferment or fermented on the skins for too long) or harvest decision (overripe).
Because of the powerhouse characteristics of Foch it is recommended to vintners by those in the know to use the following techniques: 1) hot press (to extract colors quickly), 2) carbonic maceration (e.g., similar to how Beaujolais is made - in a sealed vessel purged of oxygen), or 3) Press off skins quickly or after a very short maceration (e.g., think of a blush wine) (2).
I have tasted very good Foch from a couple wineries in Iowa: Prairie Moon and Summerset Winery in the Des Moines area.
In an attempt to challenge and elevate Marechal Foch the Eastern Iowa Wine Club's - Eastern Iowa Amateur Wine Competition is creating a special category for the Foch, called the "Fochy" award! It is our goal to make a wonderful, Burgundian-styled, wine from this disrespected Midwestern hybrid.
If you are interested in tasting for yourself: Come to the Benton County Fair (Vinton, IA) on July 23rd for the judging - visitor can also taste the wines and vote for their favorites.
2. Iowa State University - Viticulture
3. Prairie Moon Winery
4. Summerset Winery
Posted by Terry L. Johnson at 10:54 AM