On Cornas and 100+ Year-Old Vines: 2012 Balthazar Cornas Chaillot

Posted by Ian McFadden

On Cornas and 100+ Year-Old Vines
2012 Balthazar Cornas Chaillot

A good deal of his Chaillots is sourced from a plot of hundred year old vines bought from none other than Nöel Verset.

Franck Balthazar does the old vines of the Rhône legend proud. Balthazar's wines are, above all else, honest. I mean that as high praise.

The Rhône authority, John Livingstone-Learmonth, writes that Balthazar's wines "express their place faithfully." That sums it up nicely. Balthazar's style always combines a sturdy, inky Cornas intensity with a sense of agility and refinement.

We've been tasting Balthazar since the '05 vintage. With each passing vintage, it was clear that he was on a swift learning curve. The wines have grown increasingly refined and complex.

Since the 2010, though, it's clear that something has clicked. The wines are simply on another level in their expressiveness and sheer depth and length.

The 2012 Chaillot shows all the momentum that Balthazar has. The '12 boasts all the savory, aromatic complexity that Syrah is capable of with notes of violets, spice, game and smoke. There's a ton of power and a driving, dark mineral streak that leads to a long, precisely tapered finish. The vine age (they were planted in 1911 and 1913) reveals itself in the wine's soil-soaked concentration. The freshness shouldn't be overlooked either.

Balthazar's methods are old-school: stems are included, he raises the wines in old 600-liter demi-muids. He even plows his vineyards with a horse.

I'm always excited to offer Balthazar's Chaillot. I like the style and the value that it offers very much. I created 4-packs because this is something that you'll enjoy drinking immediately and you'll also want a healthy stash of bottles around for the future.

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

Ian McFadden
Director, Fine & Rare Wine
Crush Wine & Spirits

2012 Balthazar Cornas Chaillot