Balthazar, Franck

Rhône Valley

As so often happens, a chance encounter with a remarkable bottle was the catalyst for us to go rat-tat-tatting on the door of Franck Balthazar to see if we could procure a little of his characterful Cornas. It wasn’t easy; this is a tiny domaine and (like the other top producers in this small appellation) there are few secrets left and, predictably Franck greeted us with a glower rather than a grin. Thankfully a bit of name-dropping (Allemand, Chave, Bourg) and the mood-lightened and we spent a good hour and a half putting the world to rights and tasting our way through Franck’s exemplary 2017s. From Cotes du Rhône through to old-vine Cornas Chaillot this is a range of beautifully rendered Syrahs from a maker with a rare touch and control of what can (in the wrong hands) be a brutal appellation.

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