Cornas: Refined and Honest - 2011 Balthazar Cornas Chaillot

Posted by Ian McFadden

Cornas: Refined and Honest
2011 Balthazar Cornas Chaillot
Traditional Cornas Value

I'm more and more impressed by each new vintage of Balthazar's Chaillot.

The wine combines a sturdy, inky Cornas intensity with a sense of agility and refinement.

The Rhône authority, John Livingstone-Learmonth, writes that Balthazar's wines "express their place faithfully."

And I like that - Balthazar's wines are, above all else, honest.

The 2011 vintage dramatizes the soulfulness that I find such a defining signature of Balthazar's wines. It's a clear, finessed and really appealing vintage.

While there's is no doubt that the traditional wines of the Northern Rhône have been rediscovered, finding people working in the idiom and gently priced remains very difficult. Balthazar is certainly one of the best values we know.

Balthazar's methods are directly inherited from the old school - stems are included, he raises the wines in old 600-liter demi-muids. He even plows his vineyards with a horse. This connection to Cornas' old-school is a literal one as well - a good deal of his Chaillots is sourced from a plot of 97-year-old vines bought from none other than Nöel Verset.

In 2011, the Chaillot highlights the way that Balthazar teases out Syrah's dancing perfume from Cornas' muscle. I keep on returning to agile as the best descriptor. The '11 Chaillot boasts a formidable structure yet delivers a sense of levity and fine-ness against a backdrop of minerality and spice.

Overall, there's a detail and harmony to the wine that highlights just how careful and thoughtful Balthazar's winemaking is.

The fact that Balthazar goes for as low $49.95 seems almost crazy to me. The benchmark Cornas producers have really soared in price: 2011 Clape is $120ish, 2011 Allemand Reynard is $115. We love the wines, but there's no getting around the price jump.

I'm always excited to offer Balthazar's Chaillot. Not only does the wine improve with each vintage, but it also represents such a great value.

To order, reply to or call the store at (212) 980-9463.

Ian McFadden
Director Fine & Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits