Marechal Foch – the Canadian Zinfandel, eh?

From the cellar tonight — to enjoy with Canada’s win over Russia! — was the 2007 Marechal Foch from Lang Vineyards in the Okanagon Valley of B.C.  Wow…what an enjoyable wine! An obscure grape (see more later) that is perfectly ripe, with tell-tale Foch characteristics of meat, black fruits and a touch of earth; really smooth and full bodied with no rough edges at all.

Marechal Foch is an interesting story. A hybrid grape orginally from France, it is really only grown now in North America, particularly in Ontario and B.C.   It is actually a throw back to the “pre-free trade” days in Canada, when a lot of bulk wine grapes were grown and subsidized by the Canadian government, which allowed high quantity and low — very low — quality table wines. Most of the hybrids got ripped out when free trade came in and subsidies were eliminated, but Foch still remains.

And made well — as Lang does, and Quail’s Gate does best of all — it is a very interesting wine. I don’t know if I would ever call it “great”, in the way that a Cabernet or Syrah can be, because it is never tremendously complex.  But for sheer enjoyment, it is hard to beat. When the grapes are ripe, it is pure joy to drink…no greeness, and no wood or oak that I can every find.  It can be high in alcohol — over 15% for some — but usually handles that very well given how ripe the wines usually are.  You could say it is the Canadian version of Zinfandel, eh?

In addition, it is often a tremendous value. The Lang wine goes for under $20 and the Quail’s Gate for under $25…and they can age beautifully for 5 – 8 years.  The only downside is both wines are usually only found for sale at the winery.

Home grown, home made, and value to boot…way to go, Canada!



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