About this WINE
Nephew of the great Noël Verset, Franck Balthazar made his first vintage in 2002 and produces around 4,000 bottles. His smallholding of just 4 hectares is next to the ever-expanding Colombo, the winery built directly behind his home in the heart of the village. He works with 100% whole-bunch, minimal sulphur and Ecocert (organic) accreditation, producing wines that are cool and well-measured.
2021 was a demanding vintage for Franck, as for many others, with such high attention to detail required to maintain vine and grape health in the vineyards as the season progressed. He comments that he was exhausted by the end of it, however it was all worth the effort and he has made some utterly brilliant wines. His approach is honest and simple: focusing on the vineyard, minimal intervention in the cellar and only using old Burgundy barrels for his reds. Despite his reputation for making tiny volumes of highly sought-after, top-end Cornas, one of the most eagerly anticipated wines in our Rhône offer each year is his affordable, yet brilliantly poised Côtes du Rhône, sourced from organically grown vineyards around Séguret. Whilst all other volumes are down, we are delighted to have secured a little bit more of this for our offer this year.
Côtes du Rhône
Côtes du Rhône, located in southern France’s Rhône Valley, is one of the country’s largest and most well-known wine appellations. The region is renowned for producing a wide range of high-quality wines, with vineyards extending from just south of Lyon in the north to Avignon in the south, covering both banks of the Rhône River.
Côtes du Rhône is celebrated for its wide array of red and white grape varieties. The primary red grape varieties include Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault, while the main white grape varieties consist of Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne.
The region is divided into several appellations, each with distinct characteristics and regulations. The hierarchy ranges from the broad Côtes du Rhône appellation to more specific and prestigious sub-appellations like Côtes du Rhône Villages and Crus such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, and Hermitage.
The region benefits from a diverse terroir, contributing to the different wine styles. The northern part has a continental climate, while the southern portion enjoys a Mediterranean climate, which plays a vital role in grape ripening and flavour development.
The red wines are highly regarded for their rich and robust flavours. They often exhibit notes of dark fruits, herbs, spices, and distinctive peppery quality, especially in the Syrah-dominated wines from the northern Rhône.
The white wines are typically aromatic and elegant, with flavours of stone fruits, floral notes, and hints of mineral complexity.
Côtes du Rhône also produces excellent rosé wines, which are refreshing and perfect for warm weather enjoyment.
Winemaking in Côtes du Rhône has a long history from ancient times. The region preserves a combination of traditional methods and modern techniques, allowing winemakers to express the unique characteristics of their terroir.
Côtes du Rhône wines are versatile and pair well with a wide range of dishes, including roasted meats, hearty stews, grilled vegetables, and cheeses.
A noble black grape variety grown particularly in the Northern Rhône where it produces the great red wines of Hermitage, Cote Rôtie and Cornas, and in Australia where it produces wines of startling depth and intensity. Reasonably low yields are a crucial factor for quality as is picking at optimum ripeness. Its heartland, Hermitage and Côte Rôtie, consists of 270 hectares of steeply terraced vineyards producing wines that brim with pepper, spices, tar and black treacle when young. After 5-10 years they become smooth and velvety with pronounced fruit characteristics of damsons, raspberries, blackcurrants and loganberries.
It is now grown extensively in the Southern Rhône where it is blended with Grenache and Mourvèdre to produce the great red wines of Châteauneuf du Pape and Gigondas amongst others. Its spiritual home in Australia is the Barossa Valley, where there are plantings dating as far back as 1860. Australian Shiraz tends to be sweeter than its Northern Rhône counterpart and the best examples are redolent of new leather, dark chocolate, liquorice, and prunes and display a blackcurrant lusciousness.
South African producers such as Eben Sadie are now producing world- class Shiraz wines that represent astonishing value for money.