Franck Balthazar has been blessed with the laid-back demeanor necessary to crafting flawless cuvées, as well as with the opportunity to work a 97-year old parcel purchased from his uncle, Noël Verset.
The domaine was founded in 1931 by Franck’s grandfather, Casmir Balthazar, buying some vines and planting others, with its first bottling in 1980. Franck took over the 2 hectare family estate from his father René in 2002. Then the estate was made of one hectare of century old vines and one of forty-year old; he has since expanded to 3.5 hectares of Syrah, with new plantings in 2005 and 2008, from which he makes about 8,000 bottles each year in a small cellar behind a local church. By fermenting each parcel separately, Franck is able to better demonstrate the expressive value of his lands.
His philosophy in the vineyard and in the cellar is purely traditional, reflective of the great Cornas producers who preceded him. In the vineyard and the cellar, he is a one-man show: he plows the vineyards with the aid of a horse, he ferments the grapes with the stems intact, with some pumping over and light pigeage, and ages the wine in demi-muid.
Franck is a purist and a traditionalist, and has perfected his method of cultivation and vinification of the Syrah grape.