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 Crozes Hermitage 2018
From Franck’s small range of negociant wines produced from fruit sourced from like-minded growers.
“Bright violet color. Mineral-accented dark berries and licorice on the pungent, incisive nose. Offers gently sweet black raspberry. Blueberry flavors show very good clarity and pick up a sexy floral quality with aeration. Displays strong, energetic lift and cut on the gently tannic, persistent finish, which features resonating blue fruit and exotic spice notes. (all whole clusters)”
91 – 93 Points, Josh Raynolds , Vinous