Franck Balthazar took over the family domaine, dating back to 1931, in 2002. His father René had been in charge since 1950 and had overseen the move into domaine bottling in the 1970s, at the same time as his contemporaries Auguste Clape and Noël Verset. The domaine has extended from the 2 hectares of 2002 (1 ha of centenarian vines Chaillot and one 50 year old hectare in Mazzard) to around 3,5ha today - plantings on an extreme site above Sabarotte were added in 2005 & 2008 on newly formed terraces. This willingness to do things the hard way in pursuit of excellence is a hallmark of Franck's work, in keeping with time-honoured tradition that his grandfather, Casimir, would recognise. Vineyards are organic and ploughed with a horse, ferments are whole cluster with native yeasts in concrete vats. To retain the perfume gifted by old vines and high-perched plantings all wines are aged in old 600 litre demi-muid. Sulphur is kept to an absolute minimum, indeed all winemaking techniques are as natural as possible.
Franck Balthazar Cornas Cuvee Casimir Balthazar 2018
Smoke-accented dark berries, cherry and candied flowers and spicecake on the energetic nose. Juicy and seamless in texture, offering fresh blackberry, bitter cherry and boysenberry flavors that are underscored by a zesty mineral quality. Delivers a solid punch but this comes off as distinctly lively in character. Fine-grained tannins build slowly on a very long, floral-tinged finish that leaves a salty olive flourish behind.
93-95 Points, Josh Raynolds, Vinous
Cuvee Casimir is composed of two parcels- the old vines in Les Mazards and younger plantings in Légre. Wines age in demi muid for 18 months and are bottled without fining or filtration.