WTN: An old favourite: 2001 Downey's Estate Old Vine Marechal Foch

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WTN: An old favourite: 2001 Downey's Estate Old Vine Marechal Foch

Postby Paul B. » Mon May 15, 2006 11:43 pm

It's been a year or two since I had my last '01 Downey's Estate Old Vine Foch, and so I decided to open one this past weekend. The wine, bought from the winery, is showing ample development in the bottle. The fill in the two bottles I bought is now down to shoulder-level; the long, solid high-quality cork in the bottle that I opened showed intense inky-purple staining and plenty of tartrate crusting.

12.8% alc. The once-youthful ruby-magenta hue of the wine has now evolved to a deep, opaque garnet. I always suggest decanting Foch; it really comes into its own given ample time, either in the open bottle or in a decanter. Complex nose of toast and game, framed by high-quality American oak that's beautifully integrated. Moderate legs with swirling. Strong leafy nuances and the unfortunate ladybug pyrazines of the '01 vintage emerge ... time doesn't seem to dim this taint. Crisply tart on the palate with the typical irony/gamey flavours of the grape on the mid-palate, again framed by high-quality oak. Tart and toasty on the mid-palate; dry and palate-cleansing with velvety tannin in the background. As with the great majority of Ontario Fochs, this one is a food wine. The finish is long, gamey and oaky. Quite a bit of purple-black tartrate crystals made their way into the glass, and this ain't the bottom of the bottle by any means. I delight in these crystals, because they signify an honest wine to me.

With fewer and fewer varietal Foch wines in Ontario, I treasure every bottle I can get.
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Re: WTN: An old favourite: 2001 Downey's Estate Old Vine Marechal Foch

Postby Howie Hart » Mon May 15, 2006 11:48 pm

Paul -
picking up on another of your posts regarding quality, I don't think the ladybugs would have been a problem with hand picking and hand sorting the fruit.
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Re: WTN: An old favourite: 2001 Downey's Estate Old Vine Marechal Foch

Postby Paul B. » Mon May 15, 2006 11:57 pm

True, Howie. It really gets back to my position that only the most fanatical commitment to quality - as that which is evidenced at many of the world's most revered wine properties - should be applied to our hybrids as well. It all gets back to bean-counting/expediency versus hands-on artisanal wine crafting.
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Re: WTN: An old favourite: 2001 Downey's Estate Old Vine Marechal Foch

Postby Robin Garr » Mon May 15, 2006 11:59 pm

Paul B. wrote:fanatical commitment to quality


But it shouldn't be lost on you, Paul, that virtually all Eastern wine makers who possess such a commitment spend it on a strong effort to make vinifera work. It could almost be argued that because hybrids ARE a compromise, they don't suit your true fanatacial perfectionists.
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Re: WTN: An old favourite: 2001 Downey's Estate Old Vine Marechal Foch

Postby Paul B. » Tue May 16, 2006 12:06 am

Some things, like the sun rising in the morning and our disagreeing on hybrids, are equally certain. :)

I reject the glass-half-empty way of looking at non-vinifera as "compromises". They are what works best climatically in our region; as such, winemakers should apply the same quality-minded practices to these grapes as they do to vinifera, which happens to work best in a different terroir, that's all.
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Re: WTN: An old favourite: 2001 Downey's Estate Old Vine Marechal Foch

Postby Dave Moritz » Tue May 16, 2006 12:31 am

Paul:
For what it's worth, a producer in the Lake Wisconsin Vitcutural Area (located in southern Wisconsin) does very well with marechal foch. Wollersheim Winery has used it in two of their domaine wines since the early 1980s; given its success, I can say with certainty that they have no plans of discontinuing it! They also make a killer Port from foch! To my tastes, this is their best wine!
Dave...
PS: I've no financial interest in the winery. It's a source of local pride.
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Re: WTN: An old favourite: 2001 Downey's Estate Old Vine Marechal Foch

Postby Paul B. » Tue May 16, 2006 12:38 am

Dave Moritz wrote:Paul:
For what it's worth, a producer in the Lake Wisconsin Vitcutural Area (located in southern Wisconsin) does very well with marechal foch. Wollersheim Winery has used it in two of their domaine wines since the early 1980s; given its success, I can say with certainty that they have no plans of discontinuing it! They also make a killer Port from foch! To my tastes, this is their best wine!
Dave...
PS: I've no financial interest in the winery. It's a source of local pride.

Dave, it's worth a lot. Many thanks for chiming in with that info.

I refuse to partake in the cynical view that simply will not see the good in these climatically suitable grapes that remain healthy and productive in our decidedly non-Mediterranean climates and reliably produce grapes that can be made into truly regional wines by winemakers who care about putting out a truly local product.

I've always believed in "different grapes for different climates," and it so happens that for much of continental North America, there are grapes that feel every bit at home as vinifera does around the Mediterranean. I believe with absolute conviction that such grapes should be nurtured and treated with respect.
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