TNs: Chaillots vertical with Franck Balthazar

Fantastic dinner last night with Franck Balthazar, can’t wait to see him again in a month’s time! As an aside, doing a trip to Paris/Champagne and Lyon/northern Rhone so if any forumites would like to meet up, give me a shout!


Wonderful Chaillots vertical with Franck Balthazar the man himself, the line-up really reinforced why I love northern Rhone as wines with soul. Was lucky enough to sit beside him during dinner and learnt so much (including his favourite restaurants in Rhone). Some quick basics on his wines - whole bunch without filtration, he felt that he fully found his style from 2016 onwards with more purity in his wines, and the expansion of the cellars in 2020 has allowed him to age the wines further in barrel before release.

  • NV Antoine Bouvet Champagne Les Monts de la Vallée - France, Champagne
    Base 2019. Superb freshness, lift and acidity despite being 100% Pinot Noir. Lovely, crisp citrus fruit. Fantastic value. (92 pts.)
  • 2016 Franck Balthazar St. Péray - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, St. Péray
    Floral and slightly sweet nose. Slightly oxidative, honey notes reminiscent of a Tondonia white, not the biggest fan of Rhone whites but this had good tension. (90 pts.)
  • 2002 René Balthazar Cornas - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas
    Corked. Tried to be polite and didn’t comment until Franck said himself that it was slightly corked. Nevertheless for a torrid vintage this had good fruit and the saline, sensual texture of the epic ‘01 and ‘88 I had previously. NR (flawed)
  • 2010 Franck Balthazar Cornas Chaillot - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas
    My favourite early doors, classy and elegant while being beautifully proportioned. Developed some tertiary soy notes with air though. Most old-school Cornas in the line-up which appealed to me. (92 pts.)
  • 2011 Franck Balthazar Cornas Chaillot - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas
    My contribution after noticing a gap in the vertical. Better than the last bottle which showed greenness, Franck also said this was showing better than the last bottle he had in a 2011 Rhone horizontal in the US with Gonon et al a few years back. Not the most complex or long, but giving a lot of pleasure with dark cherry, almost plummy fruit today. (93 pts.)
  • 2012 Franck Balthazar Cornas Chaillot - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas
    A crowd favourite at the table. A more expressive, less earthy version of the 2010 but still old-school in style. A recurring theme was the silky, sensual texture rather than the more brutish Syrahs of some other producers. Fresh, dark red fruit, excellent balance. (94 pts.)
  • 2013 Franck Balthazar Cornas Chaillot - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas
    Rather structured and stern today, the least expressive in the line-up. Put away for longer if you have any. (90 pts.)
  • 2014 Franck Balthazar Cornas Chaillot - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas
    Had the most salinity and obvious acidity, felt a little too lean for me but this was Franck’s favourite until the 2016 unfurled. (90 pts.)
  • 2016 Franck Balthazar Cornas Chaillot - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas
    Brooding and tight to begin with, but you could see the greater purity of fruit that Franck was referring to when he said he truly found his style from 2016 onwards. Spell-binding when it opened up at the end of the dinner; a precise, complete and iron fist in a velvet glove kind of wine. Was saying that 2010 and 2016 are my favourite vintages for their uniformity of quality across different regions. The unanimous favourite of those that I knew well, and Franck’s. (94 pts.)
  • 2017 Franck Balthazar Cornas Chaillot - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas
    More expressive than the 2016 from the get-go with overt olive notes and blue fruit. Fans of more fruit-forward wines liked this more than I did, too primary for me at this stage as I preferred the redder fruit of older vintages. (91 pts.)
  • 2020 Franck Balthazar Cornas Cuvée Hommage Chaillot - France, Rhône, Northern Rhône, Cornas
    A no-sulphur bottling. Similar to the 2017, more overt blue and violet fruit. Franck said that the lack of sulphur made the fruit sweeter and more transparent. Came across a little candied and reminded me of new Spain Grenache. (90 pts.)



Amazing! No secret that I am a big fan of Balthazar. Great to hear his view on when he found his style. I also found newer vintage to be better and more consistent than the few older I had.

I love his Sans Soufre Cornas wines, but the fruit certainly shows differently, so I totally get your comment on it Melvin. It is also not a secret that we often have different opinions on low sulfites wines :slightly_smiling_face:

I also had the 2014 Chaillot recently. Felt rather closed down when I had it.

Such a nice guy, I have visited him many times.

What was his favorite restaurant - La Cachette?

How so? I have a lone bottle of his '19 SS Cornas in the cellar, and have never tried the bottling.

More open and expressive on release. More perfumed. But as Balthazar also mentions himself, then I often find the fruit to feel slightly sweeter on the nose (but not sweeter taste wise). A thing i find rather common in low sulfites red wines.

One of my all time favourite young Syrah wines at release was Franck Balthazar’s 2016 Sans Soufre Cornas. It was up there with Jamet’s Côte-Rôtie at the same stage. Vastly different, but great in their own ways.

Thanks for the notes, particularly on the 2012 and 2014 since I have those in the cellar.

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Great write-up. Thanks! Did Balthazar speak to the 2015 Chaillot at all?

Thanks for the notes. When are you going to Champagne and N. Rhone?

@LasseK definitely think you’ll like the Hommage! The newer vintages have more precision, but there’s something soulful about the older wines that speak to me.

@patrick_c_albright Yes La Cachette, but he gave a special mention to Regis Marcon!

@Lpfenwick No 2015 unfortunately!

@J_Rock I’ll be in Rhone 15-16 April, and Champagne 17-21 April. Recall that you were visiting in April too, can arrange something if our dates coincide :slight_smile:

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I’ll miss you by just a week or so. Enjoy!

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Sounds like a great tasting, Melvin. I’ve really enjoyed the Balthazars I’ve been able to get my hands on, but his wines are very popular here in the UK. I can get the Crozes-Hermitage easily enough but it’s now two years running that I haven’t been able to get an allocation of the Chaillot from his UK supplier. I was able to get some '22 Cornas Sans Soufre Ajouté this year though. I suppose I can get the Hommage, but for the price I haven’t bit, and it sounds like based on your note possibly for good reason.

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Any other restaurant recommendations from either Franck or yourself? Or anyone else here? Thanks

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@J_Rock Likewise to you!

@JDorris I haven’t checked it out for myself but in northern Rhone have shortlisted Les Mangevins, Les Cerisier. Got recommended Pyramide and of course Pic too.

Was in L’Oustalet nearer to southern Rhone a couple of years back and enjoyed it.