The Balthazar family domaine was established in 1931 by Franck’s grandfather, Casimir Balthazar, when he purchased 1.2 hectares of vineyard in the area. The small familial domaine was continued by Franck’s father René from the 1950’s until Franck took it over in 2002.
Franck is the nephew of Noel Verset, and bought his 97-year-old parcel in Chaillot from him when Noel retired. He blends this old plot with his 46-year-old parcel, both of which are on the granitic and sunny slopes of Les Chaillots. Since then he has bought, acquired and planted additional small parcels and today the domaine sits at 3.5 hectares. Today the holdings include 2 hectares of the hallowed Chaillot; 1.5ha of 50+ year old vines from his father on the steep granite slopes and 0.5ha of 100+ year old Petit Syrah inherited from his uncle, the revered Noel Verset, of the northern shoulder of Chaillot. Plowing is done with a horse, and in the tiny cellar the grapes are pressed without being destemmed. Fermentation takes place in cement vats and the wine goes into old 600 liter barrels “demi-muids”, for 18 months, before being bottled without fining of filtration.
The combination of old vines, miniscule yields and traditional vineyard and cellar practices make these wines a beacon for lovers of traditional Cornas that is unmistakable as the finest expression of Syrah from granitic based soils in all the world.
Balthazar's elegant Cornas bottlings are among the very best being made in the appellation right now, and their keen pricing makes them great values, especially for fans of classic northern Rhone wines. Balthazar vinifies entirely with whole clusters, and his vineyards are planted entirely to selection massal, not clones.
VINIFICATION: Grapes are handpicked from granite-rich soils. In the cellar, the grapes are fermented whole bunch with stems, with manual punch downs. From here, the wine is moved to 600 liter demi-muids, where they are aged for about 18 months before bottling.
VINIFICATION: Grapes are handpicked from granite-rich soils, about half from a 97-year old parcel which Franck purchased from Noël Verset. In the cellar, the grapes are fermented whole bunch with stems, with manual punch downs. From here, the wine is moved to 600 liter demi-muids, where they are aged for about 18 months before bottling.
Côtes du Rhône
VARIETAL: Syrah 60%, Grenache 40%
VINEYARDS: Sourced primarily from 3ha from Domaine des Auzieres (next to Vinsobres dan la Drome), a property Franck has recently purchased. The vines are farmed organically. Some of the Syrah for this Cotes-du-Rhone is from old-vines surrounding Cornas as well as the high-elevation, cool-climate vineyards of Vinsobres to the south.
VINIFICATION: The winemaking occurs in stainless steel, fermentation with wild yeasts, no filtration and little SO2.