Catherine and Pierre Breton 'Franc de Pied' Bourgueil 2018
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Catherine and Pierre Breton have been worldwide pied pipers for natural wine for some time now, being certified organic in 1991, and using Biodynamic practices since 1994. Their dedication is all the more notable being in Bourgueil, which is not an easy place to work. Disease pressure, frost, and hail are constant threats, and yet they have been delivering age-worthy, joyful wines for decades. That is not possible without raw physical exertion and an intense work ethic. Their daughter and son, France and Paul, have now taken over much of the work there.
Franc de Pied is an experimental plot of ungrafted Cabernet Franc vines (most vines are grafted onto American rootstock to prevent phylloxera) in the same sandy Galichets vineyard featured in this month's Direct Press in a version from the Breton's neighbors Domaine de la Chevalerie. The wine offers up an entrancing, interconnected web of fresh fruit and phenolic, secondary notes: blueberries, tar, white pepper, sumac, and spicy red pepper flake. All this is constructed on top of very fine, sandy tannins. The finish is energetic, tart, and just a touch feral. A wine with lots of layers to unpack but it never strays far from a sensation of cooling, beautiful refreshment. Jonathan Kemp