Maréchal Foch (pronounced "mar-esh-shall-fosh"), is an inter-specific hybrid French red wine grape variety. It was named after the French marshal Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929), who played an important role in the negotiation of the armistice terms during the closing of the First World War. It was developed in Alsace, France by grape hybridizer Eugene Kuhlmann. Some believe it to be a cross of Goldriesling (itself an intra-specific cross of Riesling and Courtiller Musqué) with a Vitis riparia - Vitis rupestris cross. Others contend that its pedigree is uncertain and may contain the grape variety Oberlin 595. It ripens early, is cold-hardy, is resistant to fungal diseases, but because of its small berry size is prone to bird injury. The quality of wine produced by Marechal Foch vines is highly dependent upon vine age, and the flavor profile associated with many new-world hybrid varietals is much reduced in examples made with fruit picked from older vines. The berry size of this variety is small.
Marechal Foch was formerly commonly grown in the Loire, but today it is limited to a small number of hectares in Europe. Because it is a hybrid variety, cultivation for commercial wines in Europe is restricted by European Union regulation. It is more extensively grown in both the eastern wine growing regions of the United States (commonly grown in Minnesota) as well as Willamette Valley and Canada's Okanagan Valley. Marechal Foch, along with a series of other French hybrids, was introduced to Canadian vineyards in 1946 by Adhemar de Chaunac of Brights' wines.
In southern Ontario and the northeastern United States, Marechal Foch ripens fully by the end of September. The area in Canada, however is much reduced from previous plantings due to an extensive vine-pull program in the early 1980s designed to replace Foch and other hybrids with Vitis vinifera varietals.
Marechal Foch is used to make a variety of styles of wine, ranging from a light red wine similar to Beaujolais, to more extracted wines with intense dark "inky" purple colour and unique varietal character, to sweet, fortified, port-style wines. Wines made from Marechal Foch tend to have strong acidity, aromas of black fruits and, in some cases, toasted wheat, mocha, fresh coffee, bitter chocolate, vanilla bean, and musk. In the darker variants of the wine a strong gamey nose is also often described. Highly extracted, and more carefully produced wines made from older plantings of Marechal Foch have recently been successfully marketed as more expensive niche cult wines with a dedicated following.
Foch, Kuhlmann 188.2, Marschall Foch