Cornas, Northern Rhône Valley
Franck Balthazar left an engineering career in 2002 to return to Cornas to take up the traditional farming and winemaking methods of his father René. Today, Balthazar is among an elite group of traditional winemakers who have helped establish Cornas as a sought-after region in the Northern Rhône.
The Balthazar estate was started by Franck’s grandfather, Casimir. René took over in 1950 and started limited domaine bottling in the 1970s. Before then, most wines in Cornas were sold in bulk. Working by hand and horse-drawn plow, Franck Balthazar farms steep granite-terraced hillsides that have old vines of a local clone, "le petit syrah.”
The wines are vinified whole-cluster with a natural yeast fermentation before being aged in large-oak casks. They are powerful yet nuanced with dark fruit, spice, and minerality that unfold in layers.