Francs de pieds – a definition


To understand what Francs de Pieds is about, one has to understand the history of wine over the course of the last 150 years. Phylloxera, a louse from America that attacks vines roots was unwittingly intoduced into Europe, destroying over the course of thirty years most of the vineyards in France. Phylloxera resistant to chemicals was difficult to eradicate, the best solution was to graft native european wine types onto american rootstocks, which were resitstant to the louse.This in turn altered how the wines tasted, grafting like an operation is for the plant traumatic, the rootstock primarily takes care of itself and then the transplant. Rootstocks/vines without grafting are genetically homogenous, at one with themselves.

 In some regions in France Phylloxera did not take hold, notably in the Pyrenees, there still exist vines older than 150 years but the amount of grapes they deliver is minimal. Thirty years ago a number of producers became fascinated by ungrafted plant (Francs de pieds) and tried planting them. Their attempts achieved mixed results.

Alain Graillot experimented also in Crozes Hermitage, bringing out a limited magnum Domaine des Lises, Franc de Pieds, Vignes Franches. We will never really know how the pre-phylloxera wines tasted and winemaking techniques have improved dramatically. Are the wines different, the general verdict is yes, the francs de pieds wines are silkier, velvety, possess more balance.