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 Sans Soufre Ajoute 2018
Incisive aromas of fresh dark berries, cherry, incense and potpourri, with olive and star anise notes building in the glass. Offers intense, spice-tinged black/blue fruit, olive paste and violet pastille flavors that are energized by a core of juicy acidity and late snap of spicy, white pepper. Closes very long and emphatically floral, showing a smoky mineral quality and discreet, even tannins that build steadily.
93-95 Points, Josh Raynolds , Vinous
Zero sulphur bottling from young vines in Legre above Sabarotte. Wines age in demi muid for 18 months and are bottled without fining or filtration.