Crozes-Hermitage is, by definition, the area near (but not in) the Hermitage appellation, and the quality of wines from this appellation varies considerably. There is no question, however, about the quality of the Crozes wines from Jaboulet's Domaine de Thalabert, which I have been buying, cellaring and enjoying since the 1999 vintage. Many respected critics have said that this 1990 may be the best Thalabert ever produced, surpassing even the legendary 1978. I have never tasted the 1978 Thalabert but I have gone through nearly two cases of the excellent regular (non-Thalabert) Crozes produced by Jaboulet. Comparing this 1990 to that 1978 wouldn't be fair since the latter cost only $5.69 a bottle and represents the best quality/price ratio I have ever encountered (even considering inflation).
The first small pour from the bottle is brickish with a slight medicinal taste. I was a bit worried, but the next pour, and every one after that, was perfect. It is a mature wine, after all, but with all the positive attributes age can provide. Medium deep ruby, crust on one side of the bottle and some sediment. Deep, deep smells of black fruits and cassis. Very ripe and full on entry. Concentration is impressive. On the mid-palate, I get savory tones of black olives and cured meats. Plenty of acid to balance the ripe fruit. Lush black currants on the finish. This is a special wine, indeed. A good choice to accompany a strip steak on Father's Day.