Friday, April 8, 2011

Paul Jaboulet Domaine de Thalabert Crozes-Hermitage, 1989

Domaine de Thalabert has long been one of my favorite Syrah wines, but 1989 is probably my least favorite vintage. I know: 21 years is a long time to keep a Crozes-Hermitage; most are for drinking over five to seven years. But I've had the 1988, 1983 and 1985 Thalabert recently and know that all are drinking beautifully. It's been awhile since I've had 1979, 1980 or 1982, but they are long-time favorites, and I strongly suspect that all have a younger presence than this 1989. By comparison, many of the same vintages of Hermitage la Chapelle, the more prestigious and expensive Jaboulet wine, went over the hill years ago. On the first night, I thought I might have been too harsh in my earlier criticism of the 1989 Thalabert (see my post of October 30, 2010). It has a deep, dark Syrah color with only a bit of amber. The initial smells are of black fruits, Provencal olives, spice and lavender, fresher and better than the last bottle but definitely ready to drink. On the palate, it has the spicy strength to stand up to lamb curry and enough subtlety to give pleasure after the meal. There is good acidity and a pleasing finish, although without the complexity and unique personality that come through so strongly in the 1988 and 1983 vintages. And what was left in the bottle on the second night was a distinct disappointment--flat, faded flavors and too many state wood tannins for my taste. Yes, this is still my least favorite Thalabert of the 1980s. Through the 1990s, I continued to buy Thalabert but in smaller quantities as the price went up and the quality was inconsistent at best. The estate has now changed ownership and is no longer on my buy list for anything except an occasional bottle of the simple Cotes du Rhone Parallele 45.

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