Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My First Cold-Hardy Wine Festival

My wife, our children and I attended the Cannon Falls Wine & Art Festival last Sunday. We saw some art, Donna and I tasted some wine and we all enjoyed the amazing mini-donuts from Chef Shack. (Seriously, those were awesome.)

This was the inaugural run of this festival which drew numerous artists and nine wineries from around Minnesota. Next year, we'll leave the kids at home. They had an okay time and went home with pan-flutes and jewelry. It would have been easier to spend more time talking with winery reps without them there.

The festival looked fairly well attended. I heard some interesting comments as other attendees fawned over the rhubarb and berry wines (not my thing), and talked to the good people of the Minnesota Grape Growers Association.

I pursued the dry reds from nearly every winery there and wound up having wine made from St. Croix or Marquette grapes primarily. I wrapped it up with a beautiful cool glass of Saint Croix Vineyards Frontenac Gris.

So here's the list of what I tasted. This also will serve as a shopping list of wines to taste and write about later in greater detail. Stay tuned!

Woodland Hill Winery (Delano) - Northwoods, St Croix
Northern Vineyards (Stillwater) - Downtown Red, Marquette
Carlos Creek Winery (Alexandria)- Marquette
Fieldstone Vineyards (Redwood Falls) - Marquette
Cannon River Winery (Cannon Falls) - Cannon River Red, a blend of Zinfandel, Merlot, Syrah, and Marquette
Falconer Vineyards (Red Wing) - Frontenac
Goose Lake Farm & Winery (Elk River) - Dry Red, St Croix
Saint Croix Vineyards (Stillwater) - Frontenac Gris
Indian Island Winery (Janesville) - St Croix

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cannon Falls Wine & Art Festival - July 17-18, 2010

From the Cannon Falls Chamber of Commerce website:

In its first year, the Cannon Falls Wine and Art festival will be held at Lower Hannah's Bend Park along the banks of the Cannon River and adjacent to the Cannon Valley Bike Trail. The festival features wine tasting from 10 area wineries, live music, concessions, and quality artists. There is no charge to attend the Art Fair. Cost to participate in the wine tasting is $20.00. Parking is available at the Cannon Valley Fairgrounds across the street from Hannah's Bend Park.

Art Fair
Hours: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Admission: Free

Wine Tasting
Hours: Noon - 4 p.m.
Admission: $20/person

Live Music Performances:
Sunday, July 18
Sorghum Hill Blue Grass Band
12:30 - 2:30 p.m.

More info at the Fair's Facebook page.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Tasting #5 - Saint Croix Vineyards Marechal Foch

From the Saint Croix Vineyards website (www.scvwines.com) "Our Marechal Foch Reserve is a dry, medium bodied red wine with a black cherry nose and an intense color. It is aged in American oak barrels and is the perfect choice for those who prefer a classic red wine."

The other characteristic of this wine that we picked up right away is that, typical for Marechal Foch, it is somewhat acidic. We drank this with grilled lamb loin chops and herbed vegetables. Our meal didn't bring out the dark fruit we were hoping for, but we drank a little more anyway, and saved the remaining wine. (Thanks again VacuVin).

The next day I made the family chicken and grilled a ribeye liberally seasoned with pepper and coarse salt for myself. I poured the last glass from the bottle and had a completely different experience. My seasoned beef and the somewhat salty rice dish we had changed the character of this wine completely. It was very good, and the two separate pairings were a really interesting experience for a novice like me. In subsequent research I learned that acidic wines pair well with salty food. This is proof. We'll buy some more of this and will look for it blended with other wines as well.

Marechal Foch - Introduced 1920

There is some debate as to the exact origin of this grape. Some claim it is the hybrid of two other hybrids: Goldriesling crossed with a Vitis riparia - Vitis rupestris cross. Others it contains the grape variety Oberlin 595 crossed with Pinot Noir. Regardless, we know it was developed in Alsace, France by noted hybridizer Eugene Kuhlmann in 1920 and introduced in the United States in 1951.

Foch ripens early, is cold-hardy down to -25F, and is resistant to many fungal diseases. The grapes are small making them a favorite of birds.

Marechal Foch grapes produce light to medium bodied wines with a deep inky color that are somewhat acidic. These characteristics make it popular for blending and it is often used in port. Lighter and darker varietal wines are described as having a Beaujolais or Burgundian character. Wines made from Marechal Foch carry aromas of black fruits and, in some cases, toasted wheat, mocha, fresh coffee, bitter chocolate, vanilla bean, and musk.

"[T]he Marechal Foch grape was named after General Ferdinand Foch, a French military leader and hero during World War I. Foch (1851-1929) was a general in the French army and was named a Marshal of France during World War I (a Marshal of France is not a rank but rather a miliary distinction granted to individuals –mostly generals– who show exceptional valor or leadership. Think of it like the Medal of Honor for Frenchmen). During the last year of World War I – 1918 – he was named Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces and after Germany was defeated, he assisted with the creation of the Treaty of Versailles." (www.forgottengrapes.com)