Saturday, 30 August 2014

Balthus 2007, world class 'garagistes' wine for £30 ish a bottle

Of course most of us don't drink £30 bottles on a regular basis.

I don't. My stock wine at the moment is Domaine de Sarabande 2010/11 at just over a tenner a bottle.

Alternatively the UK Wine Society has superb Rhone wines at as little as £7 each. Paul Jaboulet is one name to try, well known in the region.

But now and again you want to try something a bit special. Something a little rare or unknown.

Balthus is one of those wines. It's not super cheap, but it's a wine that has apparently beaten first growth wines at ten times the price in blind tastings.

Fine and Rare have it at £200 for six. A bit punchy on price? Maybe. But for what you get it's worth it.

It's from a tiny vineyard where they work really hard to only use the best of the best grapes, with lots of pruning early on to make the vines work really hard in producing the best grapes possible.

Then they use a slightly different process in production. Read all about it here. And the "garagistes" movement/style here.

The result is a really concentrated, 100% merlot wine that's quite different from anything else I've had. It needs a lot of time in the decanter. I would suggest four hours, then saving half for the following day.

Wine can't breathe enough (within reason) in my view. I had 1967 Bordeaux the other day that my friend finished the following day and said it was much better.

The Balthus is quite acid to start, but when it opens, really silky, smooth and rich. The tannins fall away and the concentrated dark fruit lingers wonderfully.

Highly recommended as a wine to show off to friends over dinner, given the tiny production and approach taken by the makers. Always nice to drink something wonderful with an unusual story behind it. Particularly when you know some people have paid 10 times the price for similar wines voted not as good as this by the experts.

More on how it scores is here.

Here's a fun video of the taste test where it beat so many top wines.