This was one of the first wines I bought in quantity for cellaring. With a few bottles left, I like to bring one up during March--my birthday month--just to see what aging is all about. There are many wines I wouldn't dare use for this purpose, but I know that Jaboulet's Crozes, from one of the best Rhone vintages of the century, is up to the task.
It's a medium light, brickish color; it's lightened a bit even from last year. The bouquet is well developed--red meat, olives, animal fur and grilled tomatoes. At this stage, it's more like a Cote Rotie than a Hermitage. Flavors are well defined with good acid structure to maintain the fruit presence. Savory mid-palate with a sweet after taste. In its youth, this wine was a summer pudding of fresh red and black berries. Through the years these aromas and flavors have evolved, mellowed and become more complex. It's neither better nor worse than it was...but different.
This is Jaboulet's regular Crozes Hermitage, not the more highly reputed Domaine Thalabert, which was one of my favorite wines through the 1980s. Because of the quality of the 1978 vintage, the Thalabert for that year sold out early, so I bought two cases of the regular Crozes for $56/case--a good price even in the early 1980s. Today, Jaboulet's regular Crozes is known as Les Jalets, and I would not expect it (nor the Thalabert) to age as gracefully as this wine has.