Franck Balthzar Cornas Chaillot 2021
Mainly Chaillot (1914 Syrah), plus Mazards (1959, 1961), wild yeasts, whole bunch 2-week fermentation, manual cap punching, aged 5-year plus 600-litre casks 14-18 months (reduced from 16-24 months in early 2000s), unfined, unfiltered, organic wine
Opaque magenta. Intensely perfumed, mineral-tinged aromas of fresh black and blue fruits, licorice, bacon fat and olive paste, along with a suave floral overtone that builds as the wine opens up. Stains the palate with deeply concentrated but vibrant blackberry, boysenberry, violet pastille and exotic spice flavors, plus a smoky mineral flourish that gains strength through the back half. Chewy tannins shape an extremely long, mineral- and floral-driven finish that shows superb clarity and spicy drive.
quite a full red robe. Raspberry fronts the nose, light airs of dried herbs, Zan licorice, rose petals, is a bit reduced. The palate serves close-knit black cherry fruit with inner juice, is shrouded for now with a tannic thrust, a firm sand-grain element from half way. It’s clear, typical Cornas in a restrained register, its juice clear, minted, running well through it. From 2025-26. 2044-46 Nov 2022
Franck Balthazar came in hot as a talented, determined, young 3rd generation vigneron armed with the legendary Noel Verset’s vineyards right when the Northern Rhone started to blow up with Allemand, Jamet, and Juge in the 00s. Since that time, what he has gained in experience and skill has only cemented his status as a living legend in the Rhone and is unquestionably one of its current master vigneron!
SO, what makes his wines so great? Location and know how. The vineyard sites are second to none, BUT he also grew up around the legends of the region and learned from all of them and his grandfather and father that worked with all of those legends. He was surrounded by talent and skilled know how. His uncle was the legendary Noel Verset (NYT Asimov Obit) who bestowed to him his best parcels of vines, Chaillot in particular.
For the Northern Rhone, Balthazar are on the same elite quality level as Jamet and Rostaing, usually better to me than Clape (cleaner) and Voge (too squeaky clean), but just under the master Allemand, with wines that can and do eclipse many of these names in any current vintage. His contemporaries are many, but favorites are Levet, JM Stephan and Faury that fall into similar quality and style.
While these are some of the best syrah wines on the planet from Cornas (now in Crozes-Hermitage). His Cotes du Rhone is UNDOUBTEDLY the best CdR made for the money (we have that too!) and is always a high proportion of syrah, unlike most CdR wines that are primarily grenache, making it a serious wine for the price!