Marquette is a cousin of Frontenac and grandson of Pinot noir. It originated from a cross of MN 1094, a complex hybrid of V. riparia, V. vinifera, and other Vitis species, with Ravat 262. Viticulturally, Marquette is outstanding. Resistance to downy mildew, powdery mildew, and black rot has been very good. Its open, orderly growth habit makes vine canopy management efficient.
Marquette's high sugar and moderate acidity make it very manageable in the winery. Finished wines are complex, with attractive ruby color, pronounced tannins, and desirable notes of cherry, berry, black pepper, and spice on both nose and palate. As a red wine, Marquette represents a new standard in cold hardy viticulture and enology.
Marquette is a promising new red wine variety that combines high levels of cold hardiness and disease resistance with excellent wine quality.
Marquette originated from a cross made in 1989 between MN 1094 and the French Hybrid cultivar Ravat 262. MN 1094 was derived from a complex parentage including V. riparia, V. vinifera, and lesser amounts of several otherVitis species. Ravat 262 likewise has a complex background, but has the renowned variety Pinot noir as one parent. Marquette was selected in 1994 and tested as MN 1211.
Viticulturally, Marquette has proven to be an outstanding vine. In terms of cold hardiness, it has been consistently hardy in well managed vineyards on good sites in USDA zone 4. Resistance to common grape diseases (downy mildew, powdery mildew and black rot), has been very good and the vine requires only a minimal spray program under Minnesota conditions. Resistance to infestation by foliar phylloxera has been moderate. The open and orderly growth habit of Marquette is considered highly desirable for efficient vineyard management and fruit exposure to the sun conducive to maximizing wine quality. Shoots typically have two small to medium clusters per shoot, thus avoiding the need for cluster thinning. Bud break is somewhat early, slightly before Frontenac. Marquette ripens in early mid-season (Sept. 19 in east central Minnesota), a few days before the standard cultivar Frontenac. Marquette yields have been moderate, averaging 4.78 Kg/ vine or 3.42 tons/acre.
The clusters of Marquette are small to medium in size, averaging 89 g/cluster and 10.6 cm (4.2 in) in length. Berries are small to medium averaging 1.1 g/ berry and 12 mm (0.5 in) in diameter. Sugar levels have been high, averaging 25.9° brix. Acid levels have also been higher than most cultivars (12.0 g/l) although substantially lower than that of Frontenac (15.1 g/l). This level of titratable acidity has been found to be quite manageable by experienced winemakers. Marquette's average juice pH value has been 3.00.
Marquette appears to have considerable promise not only in the Upper Midwest, but also in Eastern grape growing regions such as Michigan, New York, New England, and Quebec.
The introduction of Marquette marks the dawn of a new era of cold-hardy red hybrid wine grapes; more often resembling traditional Vitis vinifera wines than those from existing hybrid cultivars. Marquette does exhibit cherry and black currant flavors and aromas typical of many hybrids, but can be much more complex with integrated notes of blackberries, pepper, plum, tobacco, leather, and spice.
Average harvest chemistry numbers from the HRC vineyard (2003-2005):
TA: 12.3 g/L
Marquette is best when utilized as a medium-bodied red table wine. Maceration (fermenting on grape skins and seeds) for 7-8 days is recommended for optimal extraction of tannins. Marquette color is typically moderate, and can endure longer maceration times without becoming dark and inky. Extended maceration trials have not yet been conducted. High-extracting yeast strains have produced with intense fruit and complexity, and moderate palate structure.
Management of acidity
While harvest acidity is lower than Frontenac, malolactic fermentation is highly recommended for both acid reduction and increased wine complexity and mouthfeel. It is very important to select a bacterial strain that can tolerate both low pH and high alcohol levels. Culture addition just after maceration (after pressing), but while the juice is still fermenting, helps prevent sluggish or stuck secondary fermentations. A slight acid reduction with potassium bicarbonate may be necessary as well to bring the wine into balance. Final TAs of 6.5-7.5 g/L can be achieved without raising pH excessively.
High sugar levels at harvest often lead to high alcohol levels in the finished wine (>14%), which may be a problem for some commercial wineries. Yeast strains exist which produce less alcohol and more glycerol, which adds body. Amelioration is a possible solution, but the addition of water can dilute the intensity of flavors and reduce body. Another solution is to blend a low-alcohol red wine into Marquette to reduce total alcohol percentage below 14%. Blending has the added benefit of potentially reducing wine acidity, and increasing overall wine complexity.
Studies on the interaction of oak aroma and flavor with Marquette have only recently begun, but early impressions are very positive. Both French and American oak chips have been found to increase overall wine complexity. Barrel aging additionally concentrates the wine aromas and flavors, increases body and structure, and prolongs the lifespan of a wine in the cellar.