New grapes on the block

This tasting note is about two grape varieties that we don't see often, if at all. I was excited to try wines made from them. We're so used to Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Chardonnay dominating the shelves, it's refreshing to try a little something out of the ordinary. I chose the title "New grapes on the block" as a tribute to my recent sighting of New Kid on the Block member Donnie Wahlberg. He was on one of my most recent flights back to Toronto from LA. I wonder if he'd enjoy these wines...

Marechal Foch - a red grape variety that survives winters well and ripens early. This grape was grown widely in the Loire Valley of France but is now popular in Canada and New York. It is a French hybrid grape which means that it was bred using one parent from an American vine species and one parent from the European Vinifera (the most common species of vine to produce grapes for wine) vine species.

Mencia - a red grape variety grown widely in the north western part of Spain. It is the same grape as the Portuguese grape Jaen. It was once thought to have been related to Cabernet Franc but DNA tests (sounds very CSI) disproved that theory. Generally produces a light, fragrant wine best for early consumption but the quality of grape growing and winemaking have increased the quality of the wines that this grape produces.

Malivoire Albert's Honour Old Vines Foch 2008 (Ontario) $24.95

I was pleasantly surprised with this wine! It had great body and flavour with a really smooth taste and great fruit flavour. The tasting note on the Malivoire website says:

"Dark purple in the glass, the nose infers plum jam, raisin, juniper, spice box and autumn leaves. Silky smooth on the palate, intense flavours point to, dark roast coffee, wild blueberry, and vanilla, leaving a characteristically long, savoury finish. "

I'd have to agree. The fruit is from vines aged over 30 years.  I was hesitant to try this wine only because from my past experiences, I never really liked wines made with the hybrid Marechal Foch grape. Well, I'm drinking my words now. This wine has been aged in American Oak, some of which were new barrels.

Gaba do Xil Mencia 2008 (Spain) $15.95

This wine has been really popular in the tasting room at the Summerill LCBO. I didn't love it but I did enjoy it for what it was. It's just easy drinking wine. It's dry and fruity and has pronounced acidity which livens up the mouth. It's filled with black cherry, strawberry flavours with some spiciness. Ole! I think for the money, you're getting some good wine that is an overall crowd pleaser. This wine is from the Valdeorras region in Spain which more is inland than the cooler climate of Rias Baixas (home of some fabulous whites made with the Albarino grape). This region is also influenced by the effects of the Atlantic Ocean.  The red and white wines from both Rias Baixas and Valdeorras are light and crisp. Perfect for spring and summer patios and BBQs! Which reminds me, I should really lighten up on the wine tasting if I'm going to try to fit into that bikini this summer. :)