The great 1978 Domaine Thalabert came to market at about the time that I was first getting interested in wine. And I missed it, although I bought two plus cases of the 1978 regular Crozes from Jaboulet ($5.99 a bottle before the 17% Village Corner case discount). For me, Jaboulet's Crozes Hermitage was an introduction to the world of fine wine, and, although it has declined in recent years, this 1998 regular bottling gave me many years of enjoyment. From the 1979 vintage through the 1989, I bought at least a case of Thalabert every year. It was my go-to wine. The 1990 got loud raves from Robert Parker, however, and the price escalated. I was unable to buy or afford more than half a case, but those bottles, along with my remaining bottles of the 1983, are cellar treasures.
Compared to the 1970 Pio Cesare Barolo and the 1988 Vieux Telegraphe, this is clearly a young wine with abundant fruit but also secondary and tertiary qualities that make it special. Deep and dark ruby with only minimal bricking along the rim. A heavy crust of sediment has formed, but on one side of the bottle only. The wine has rested, undisturbed, for nearly 30 years.
The bouquet is fresh and intense, a mix of red and black raspberries, herbs and a hint of cured olives. The same on the palate, along with some black currant and sour cherry tones. A rich wine but not heavy. Excellent balance of fruit, acid and tannin and a long, complex and concentrated after taste. If the Barolo and the Chateauneuf reflect an enjoyable maturity, this wine, I hope, suggests a future that is even better.