Thanksgiving dinner this year came a day late and featured roast lamb rather than turkey. We were also honoring my daughter's 29th birthday, so it was a good occasion to pull out this 1980 Syrah from Paul Jaboulet. 1980 was not a good vintage in the Rhone, and Jaboulet's 1980 Hermitage la Chappelle has been in serious decline (for my taste, anyway) for more than a decade. This Cornas, considered a lesser wine in the Jaboulet portfolio, however, is still going strong. At least at that time, the Jaboulet family had contracts with some of the best growers in Cornas. And the sunny micro-climate there apparently added some oomph to the wine, albeit without the finesse or either Hermitage or Crozes-Hermitage.
The color is still medium deep, although it has lightened a lot over the years. Otherwise, the changes are remarkably minor. It has always had a piercingly acidic nose--green olives, red and black cherries and cassis. There is also a slightly weedy element that doesn't bother me. On the palate, the wine is smooth and carries its acidity well because it also has a firm base of fruit tannins. The dominant dark cherry/green olive trait is one I find very attractive in northern Rhones. There is also a savory, salty note on the finish. For a mature Cornas--or any 29-year-old wine of any appellation--it's very well preserved.