Private Collection: Rhone & Piedmont

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Balthazar, Franck 2015 Cornas Casimir

One of the few "natural" winemakers in the northern Rhône, Frank Balthazar is certified organic and vinifies with wild yeasts and minimal sulfur, even producing a cuvée of Cornas without SO2. The Cuvée Casimir Balthazar is from 25% old vines in "Les Mazards" and younger vines in "La Légre." Balthazar's Cornas are aromatically beautiful with silky, pure fruit and terrific length and are never heavy or over-extracted. The 2015 Casimir Balthazar shows a dense red/black color, with elegant pure blackberry, cassis aromas with violet and stone and hints of spice, a bit closed from the recent bottling. The palate is dense and elegant, but not heavy, with firm tannins surrounding lovely pure black fruits with a beautiful core of minerals, earth and berry fruits. The finish is all stone and juicy acids. Beautiful wine - hold 5 to 8 years and drink till 2035. DL (last of stock)

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Balthazar, Franck 2015 Cornas Chaillot

This is a great Cornas and certainly one of the best wines of this very good vintage in the Northern Rhône. Franck Balthazar is one of the few truly organic and natural producers in the region and, like the Gonons, he practices whole-cluster fermentations with wild yeasts and ages in old (5 years and older) large barrels. The "Chaillot" cuvée is from vines planted in 1914, with a small percentage from "Mazards" planted in 1960. There is an approximately 18 month elevage and the wine is bottle unfined and unfiltered with a small dosage of SO2. The 2015 shows old-vine intensity and terroir expression along with the beautiful ripeness of the vintage. The wine is a very deep red/black color with elegant aromas of blackberry and red currant  liqueur with violet, pepper, roast meat and earth,  The palate is intense and densely structured with mineral and black fruit flavors, black olive, graphite and licorice. Very elegant with perfect acidity and firm tannins with slightly bitter black fruits and mineral flavors in the long finish. This is a classic, unforced, unspoofilated Cornas that will age beautifully, best perhaps 2025 to 2040. Highly recommended.  David Lillie  The 2015 Chaillot from Balthazar displays the ripeness of the vintage, with pure black fruit  and violet aromas, with hints of Malabar peppercorn, garrigue, and game. The densely-fruited palate offers flavors of blackberry, ripe plum, and cassis, with savory notes of meat and granitic spice enveloping a vibrant core of minerality. The interplay of pure fruit, bright acidity, and firm, ripe tannins bodes well for long aging. This should be magnificent with 7-10 years in the cellar. A truly beautiful Cornas! John McIlwain

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Balthazar, Franck 2016 Cornas Casimir

One of the few "natural" winemakers in the northern Rhône, Frank Balthazar is certified organic and vinifies with wild yeasts and minimal sulfur, even producing a cuvée of Cornas without SO2. The Cuvée Casimir Balthazar is from 25% old vines in "Les Mazards" and younger vines in "La Légre." Balthazar's Cornas are aromatically beautiful with silky, pure fruit and terrific length and are never heavy or over-extracted. The 2016 Casimir shows a dense red/black color, with very fragrant blackberry, cassis aromas with violet and stone and hints of spice, quite exuberant and open for a 2016. The palate is supple, ripe and ready, lush and medium-bodied, with soft tannins surrounding lovely pure black fruits with a core of minerals, earth and berry fruits. This is extremely delicious now - drink over the next eight to ten years. DL

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Balthazar, Franck 2016 Cornas Chaillot

We're very happy to once again have Cornas from Franck Balthazar in the store - organic farming, no nonsense vinifications with low or zero sulfur - some of the best work in the Northern Rhone.  As we haven't gotten to the note, here's it is from our friend JLL at Drinkrhone  "There is sultry promise on the nose, airs of crushed black fruits, roast beef depth, keen lines of cassis-blueberry, a wee note of smoked bacon. There are great shafts of fine sunlight in the bouquet. The palate is coolly fruited, has real wavy elegance, is sumptuous and sustained, This is very belle (rather than beau), super fine, well balanced, comes with some tannic cut and depth, delivered with a velvet glove. The attack is up and live, holds great fruit; it lengthens with brio, has a finely mineral tune in closing, violets on the aftertaste. The mineral comes along by stealth. There is great transparency of terroir in this STGT Cornas. From mid-2020. 2034-36" "...great shafts of sunlight in the bouquet" I'll drink to that! (STGT stands for Soil To Glass Transfer!)

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Balthazar, Franck 2018 Cornas Casimir

One of the few "natural" winemakers in the northern Rhône, Frank Balthazar is certified organic and vinifies with wild yeasts and minimal sulfur, even producing a cuvée of Cornas without SO2. The Cuvée Casimir Balthazar is from 25% old vines in "Les Mazards" and younger vines in "La Légre." Balthazar's Cornas are aromatically beautiful with silky, pure fruit and terrific length and are never heavy or over-extracted. The 2018 Casimir Balthazar shows a dense red/black color, with elegant pure blackberry, cassis aromas with black olive, violet, smoke and stone and hints of spice, a bit closed from the recent bottling. The palate is dense and elegant, but not heavy, with firm tannins surrounding lovely pure black fruits with a core of minerals, earth and berry fruits. Beautiful wine - hold 3 to 5 years and drink till 2035. DL

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Balthazar, Franck 2018 Cornas Chaillot

We're very happy to once again have Cornas from Franck Balthazar in the store - organic farming, no nonsense vinifications with low or zero sulfur - some of the best work in the Northern Rhone.  As we haven't gotten to the note, here's it is from our friend JLL at drinkrhone.com: "dark red; licorice features in an ebullient nose, with cassis, blue fruit present, smoky notes. The palate funnels dark, cool fruits, cassis to the fore, with roasting, toasting, firm tannins, a hint of violet. Near the finish it shows it is structured, firm Cornas, with good, clear fruit central to it. The fruit is notably active on the first half. It’s raw, promising, will fill out over time, has beaten the vintage heat. It needs leaving for three years. 13°. Drink until 2045."

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Balthazar, Franck 2018 Cornas "Sans Soufre Ajouté"

From young vines in the vineyards of "La Legre" and "Les Cotes," whole-cluster fermentation, aged in old 600 liter casks, bottled un-fined, unfiltered and with zero added SO2. This wine is too rare to taste, so we again refer to drinkrhône: "lusty dark robe, purple on black. The nose is crunchy, black-fruited, comes with an air of Morello black cherry, blueberry, rose petal. This is fine grain Cornas, one with lovely purity, pinpoint accuracy, the tannins firming up the second half, with their fine grain, their change of texture. The fruit is cool, has a good strike of clarity. It gives a lot of iron late, is very interesting, a maximum naked wine, the fruit great. 14°. Bottled 14 Nov 2019. Drink until 2030-33"

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Brovia 2007 Barolo Rocche

A fantastic wine. Naturally it's tight now. It has energy that's lacking in most 2007s, and incredibly elegant tannins. JW

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Brovia 2007 Barolo Villero

Lighter and much more open in the glass. Lovely — fruit and stones, rich, spicy, a lot of material, dry, savory, long — excellent. JW

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Brovia 2010 Barolo Villero

Villero showed dark, dense, tight, full of texture and material, very tannic and not presently very nuanced, but it’s clearly a very very good wine. How? Because it’s all there – aromatically intense, packed with fruit, and very ripe tannins. It’s an infant; aside from tasting for the sake of science it makes no sense to try to drink this now. Jamie Wolff

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Brovia 2015 Barolo Villero

– A beauty – tight, of course, and subtle and austere now, I thought this was a gorgeous Villero, with everything you’d want in a wine to put away for 20 years. Very fine indeed. Jamie Wolff

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Burlotto 2008 Barolo Monvigliero

Very aromatic, showing cherry/red fruits, cinnamon/baking spices, truffle, stone and chalk. The fruit continues sweet on the palate, balanced by very fresh acidity, rich savory and herbal notes, and fine ripe tannin, carrying on to a very long finish. The wine is lovely and light in the mouth – kind of amazing considering the very old-school production, with whole clusters crushed by foot in open wood fermenters, and up to 60 days of fermentation and maceration, all of which still results in remarkable elegance and finesse – a powerful wine with a truly delicate presence. Burlotto Monvigliero is surely one of the great wines of Barolo. 

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Burlotto 2011 Barolo Monvigliero

Another great, superb, over-the-top-good vintage for Monvigliero. As usual. And I’m prepared to dance, to steal from our friends and shout glorious, boldface adjectives of praise in all caps, to foam at the mouth, just to try to say: If you have admired this wine in the past, even a little, then you must have some of the 2011. Jamie Wolff

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Burlotto 2012 Barolo Monvigliero

Burlotto's Monvigliero is famous in part because of its very old-fashioned 90-day maceration in wood; what's interesting to the non-scientific mind is that it's much more elegant and silky than many other wines that see much shorter maceration - somehow the extended process yields a super-elegant wine. Aromatically savory and herbal (but not green), with distinct notes of quinine and orange peel, the wine is very fresh and long. As usual, a remarkable wine. Jamie Wolff

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Margherita Otto (Alan Manley) 2015 Barolo

“Smells great!” reads the opening of my note, written last May while balancing a glass and notebook at the cantina. This can only (by me, at any rate) be called classic. Aromatically lovely, with delicate floral, woodsy notes, and bright fruit; the wine is quite intense and lush, beautifully balanced between savory and fruit, with quite pronounced ripe tannin. None of the heat of the vintage is apparent. Super wine, super promising – an amazing debut. Jamie Wolff

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