Most Loire aficionados would agree that this small domaine is the top address in Bourgueil and here we have their rarest cuvée and indeed one of the toughest tickets in the Loire Valley; Bourgueil Franc de Pied 2011. We offered a handful of Breton 2011’s earlier this past summer but we weren’t able to offer this one to you since it wasn’t offered to us. Fortunately, a few cases have found their way to us out of a miniscule California allocation we weren’t expecting. We should all be pleased. The Breton Bourgueil Franc de Pied is made from the fruit of ungrafted vines, known here as franc de pied, naturally, from a tiny .17 hectare, biodynamically farmed plot in Breton's Les Galichets vineyard. I’m surprised that this is even legal in Europe as these vines are susceptible to the dreaded phylloxera, and who wants to invite that into your vineyards? In fact, fellow Loire producer Charles Joguet made a similar cuvée in Chinon with ungrafted vines, the Varennes de Grand Clos Franc de Pied, which succumbed to phylloxera in the 2006 vintage after about 20 years. The Bretons are happy to report that their vines are still healthy though Pierre Breton notes that phylloxera deosn't seem to affect local ungrafted vines until they're at least 20 years old. He fully expects this 12 year old parcel to be overrun by this pest eventually at which point he'll replant back over to American rootstock.
The soil in this parcel is fairly sandy which is helpful in staving off this voracious vine pest but it’s probably just a matter of time. It’s only natural to question why anyone would risk planting these doomed vines and I can only say that tasting is believing. An A/B tasting with the Les Galichets bottling made from grafted vines in the same vineyard reveals much. The Franc de Pied just seems to have more of everything: color, volume, richness, profound aromatics and length. Classic Loire cab franc notes of red berry, tobacco and other leafy notes with deep red and black fruit flavors. Finishes long with notes of char and chalk. A good candidate for the cellar but difficult to keep your hands off of now. This is The most interesting Loire wine, red or white, we’ll be offering all year.