Know Your Grapes: Marquette
Anyone who has been to a Midwest or Great Plains winery is familiar with the grape varietals first created at the University of Minnesota. One of the nation's premiere wine grape breeding programs, the UofM grapes are bred to survive the brutal Upper Midwest winters. Frontenac, Itasca, and La Crescent are just some of the varietals available, however, it is Marquette which seems to be truly gaining acreage and prestige these days.
Bred from a complex family tree that includes being a grandchild of Pinot Noir, the grape was named after Pere Marquette, a French Jesuit missionary who explored much of the area in the 1600s.
Marquette buds early, which does increase the risk of spring frosts, but it is very hardy, all the way to -30 Degrees Fahrenheit. UofM describes Marquette as resistant to downy and powdery mildew, as well as black rot, with an open orderly growth habit. It has complex notes of cherry, berry, black pepper, and spice on both nose and palate. Extremely tannic, and needing malolactic fermentation to mellow out the high acidity, many growers are barrel aging Marquette or making it as rosé.
Primary notes of Marquette are black cherry, spice, pepper, and blueberry.
Examples can easily be found in Minnesota, where over 200 acres are grown, as well as Quebec, Indiana, and Pennsylvania.
Since Marquette was patented by UofM in 2006, the only places you can currently purchase it are locations licensed by the University.