By: Melanie Lloyd
Never heard of Marquette? You are not the only one. This young grape variety may not be well-known but is steadily gaining popularity.
WHY IS IT NOT MORE KNOWN?
First off, Marquette is a hybrid grape. Unfortunately, hybrid grapes can be tricky to get recognition within the wine industry. In Ontario, for example, Marquette is not on the list of permitted grape varieties for VQA Ontario eligible wines.
The good news is that this is currently under review. Through the VQA Ontario Stakeholder Consultation dated September 25, 2018, one of the proposals was to add Marquette on the list of permitted hybrid grape varieties. We will need to stay tuned for developments regarding this proposal.
WHAT IS A HYBRID GRAPE?
The vast majority of wine we currently drink belong to the Vitis Vinifera family. To get a hybrid grape, you typically cross Vitis Vinifera grapes with other Vitis species.
Hybrid varieties can be more resistant to the cold and diseases and offer an alternative to Vitis Vinifera grapes in climates where the weather is too cold for these grapes to thrive such as Eastern Canada.
A BIT OF HISTORY AND MARQUETTE INFORMATION…
Marquette was created by Peter Hemstad and James Luby at the University of Minnesota’s Horticultural Research Center. It originated from a cross made in 1989 between the University of Minnesota’s hybrid grape variety ‘MN 1094’ and the French hybrid grape variety ‘Ravat 262’, sometimes referred as Ravat Noir.
‘MN 1094’ was derived from a complex mix of Vitis Riparia, Vitis Vinifera, and lesser amounts of several other Vitis species. ‘Ravat 262’ was derived from a complex mix of several Vitis species and Pinot Noir is of its parents.
Marquette produces bluish-black fruit that is resistant to the cold. It also has good resistance to common grape diseases including downy mildew, powdery mildew, and black rot.
Marquette grapes are high in sugar and have good acidity levels. Wines made from Marquette are typically ruby coloured with both aromas and flavours of cherry, berry, black pepper, and spice. In comparison to other cold-hardy red hybrid grapes, wine made from Marquette frequently has more pronounced and perceivable tannins.
REGARDING THE VQA ONTARIO STAKEHOLDER CONSULTATION…
The deadline for industry stakeholders to provide feedback on the proposed changes that includes the addition of Marquette will be on December 15, 2018. This does not mean that if the feedback received is positive and that the VQA Board of Directors support the addition of Marquette, it will automatically be added.
I was informed by the VQA that if the Board of Directors recommends the proposed changes to the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services for approval, then the Ministry may wish to conduct their own industry consultations. Regardless of whether it gets approved or not, this proposal is a step in the right direction for this grape has all the potential to produce high quality wine.
KARLO ESTATES MARQUETTE 2017 – WILD FERMENT
Visually, this wine is a dark ruby colour with a lighter violet rim. First thing I smell is rose petals, followed by juicy aromas of black cherry and plum, and lots of dark chocolate, with mushroom, black olive, cinnamon, and hints of white pepper. This wine is light to medium bodied and has this mouth-watering tartness with its crunchy young plum and sour cherry flavours. It also has notes of sweet spice and dark cocoa. The tannins are smooth and the flavours linger.
Wine-Food Pairing: This wine goes well with pasta in a fresh tomato sauce, mushroom risotto, and a charcuterie board that includes olives and nuts.
Another example of Marquette is the following from Etter that I had reviewed for my blog: Interview with Jan-Daniel Etter of Clos du Vully. It is a different style and blended with a few other varieties. This one has more body and although tart, it does not have the mouth-watering acidity found in the Marquette from Karlo Estates.
ETTER MARQUETTE 2014
Made from 75% estate grown Marquette, and a blend of 25% Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Shiraz, this ruby coloured Red has aromas of black plum, violet, and sour cherry, as well as hints of wet cedar, red licorice, smoke, and roasted cocoa beans.
On the palate, it has tart black plum and sour cherry flavours with a smoky finish. It is medium bodied with wonderful acidity and is truly a lovely wine.
Wine-Food Pairing: This wine would pair well with barbecued steak, grilled pork, or roasted duck.
Educational resources about the Marquette grape variety used for this blog:
Minnesota Grape Growers Association: