Franck Balthazar, who looks like a slighter, younger Sean Connery, was getting me car sick.
I had zipped down from Burgundy. For one day, I teamed up with my friend Amy Lillard, of La Gramière and we were in Franck’s clangy truck, taking the curves, and heading up into the heart of the Cornas terroir, an amphitheater of vines. With relief we reached his granitic plot in the esteemed Chaillot vineyard. That vineyard, along with Reynard are the appellation’s exalted crus. Sucking in the unseasonably chilled air at about 300 meters, the visual paradox of Rhône River and the nuclear power plant stretched way down below. With a good amount of forest embracing the bowl of vineyards, and the wind blown poppies, it was, save for the industrial sight below, beautiful. The area was even compelling a decade ago when I stood there in the baking and brutal sun on impacted soil with fellow Cornasien, Thierry Allemand. (Continued...for subscribers.)