Thursday, July 7, 2011

Paul Jaboulet Domaine Thalabert Crozes-Hermitage, 1989

I have had negative things to say about this vintage of Domaine Thalabert. It is, in my opinion, the weakest Thalabert produced during the 1980s. But tasted tonight, side-by-side with two much younger wines from lesser appellations, the quality of this Crozes-Hermitage stood out. The younger wines, both from the excellent 2007 vintage, were Louis Latour's Domaine Valmoissine Pinot Noir and the Perrin brothers' La Vieille Ferme Ventoux. Although these lesser wines were very, very good, they clearly lacked the depth of fruit and flavor interest of the Domaine Thalabert.

Thalaberts from the 1980s were, in my estimation, among some of the finest Rhone wines made, better, in many instances, than the estate's prestigious Hermitage la Chapelle. The 1983, 1985 and 1988 are all drinking a notch above this 1989. The Jaboulets started experimenting with new oak on this cuvee in 1988, and the amount of wine aged in new oak peaked in 1989, probably contributing to its relatively early demise.

The highlight of the wine is its beautiful bouquet--dark berries, black olives, currants, cassis, lavender and a hint of juniper berries. The concentrated fragrance lingers even after the bottle has been emptied. On the palate, though, there are some dry tannins that are a bit less apparent when the sediment has been carefully filtered out. There is also a metallic hint on the finish, probably also related in part to the sediment. At this stage, the wine has some flaws. But make no mistake about it: Domaine Thalabert from the 1980s is great stuff.

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