Monday, November 30, 2009

Jambalaya and Marechal Foch - Who Knew ?

Saturday was wife's birthday. Wife does not celebrate her birthday, rather she tolerates it, which is fine by me as it relieves pressure from me to create a special moment.

Saturday she spent primarily sleeping and reading and the birthday dinner was postponed until Sunday due to my work schedule. Wife's birthday is easy for me, as mentioned, because all I really have to do is come up with a well thought out gift and then cook her something of her choosing. Wife's original request was for Chicken Enchiladas but somewhere during the week I mentioned Jambalaya and that struck the chord.

I too enjoy Jambalaya and was happy to prepare it but there was the wine issue, my jambalaya is medium hot but elements like andouille sausage, cayenne, bell peppers and shrimp make for a difficult choice.

Under normal circumstances I'd have opted for a Riesling or Chenin Blanc but wife eschews white wine much the same way I do a 40 hour work week so I had to come up with an alternative. My first thought was sparkling but then I recalled that I had a bottle of Quail's Gate Old Vine Foch, 2006 sitting in the rack and thought: "Hmmmmm, why not".

Marechal Foch is really a hybrid known as Kuhlmann 188-2, one of whose parents is Goldriesling, but it was renamed after the great French General (how often do you see those words together ?) Foch. Marechal Foch, along with any other number of hybrids, were the workman like grapes of the Canadian wine industry from the mid 1940s onward. These varieties were bred to ripen early, withstand freezing winters and yield large quantities of fruit. Besides Marechal Foch the best known of these hybrids, in the Okanagan, are Baco Noir, Chelois and De Chaunac all prominent in the Okanagan in the eighties when I was first learning the wine business so I'm particularly fond of Marechal Foch.

Back on point: Why Marechal Foch with Jambalaya ? My process was that since Marechal Foch, in the proper hands such as Quail's Gate, has a Burgundian Pinot Noir character with rich berry fruit flavours, medium body and good acid. This bottle was a beauty, making me wish I had more but it can be found at private stores these days in the $25-30 price range. I recommend having a bottle or two in stock or see if you can locate Kettle Valley's Naramata Bench Reserve which is Foch based and a bit easier on the wallet.

The end result at dinner was Win/Win - great Jambalaya, an excellent wine and a good pairing, maybe not perfect but certainly eminently enjoyable. In addition, since Marechal Foch is very dark in colour, daughter got to laugh at our purple tongues ........ so I guess win/win/win.

As a last note, speaking of wins I'm sure everyone is in agreement that Sports Illustrated choice of Derek Jeter as Sportsman of the Year was an excellent choice.

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