Last great vintage

Thalabert 1997 was the last great vintage of this historically wonderful Crozes-Hermitage produced. With Gerard Jaboulet gone his nephew Nicolas took over and quality plunged. I’ve heard some intriguing rumours about why the wine was so bad under his stewardship, but it’s perhaps best to think he couldn’t make red wine for Smarties, let alone toffee (his white wines were very good, though). The plunge in reputation of Jaboulet made the family decide to sell out to the foul Swiss Claret makers who now produce soulless, dreary wines at this now lacklustre estate. How sad. None of the post-97 red I’ve had from Jaboulet have been worth buying, especially due to the massive escalation in price (for what are only ordinary wines at best). Thalabert and La Chapelle are sad, wearisome shadows of what they once were.

What will probably be my final taste of this wine I’ve had so many times (I scored 18 bottles on release) is thanks to my lovely friends Guy and Marie-Pierre. I greatly appreciate the gift. We must try to catch up Guy and Marie, perhaps we can bring the wines to you next time. Sorry I missed your wedding bash; I was incoherently psychotic, alas. Anyway, on to Thalabert 1997!

Crozes-Hermitage Domaine Thalabert 1997 Jaboulet

Crozes-Hermitage Domaine de Thalabert 1997, Paul Jaboulet-Aine

Quite beetrooty on the nose, but beyond that it just smells rather old and tired out. Oh dear. The palate is dried out, dusty and lifeless. No fruit, no life, gone.

The last bottle of Hermitage La Chapelle 1997 I had was rather tired, too, definitely on it’s way out. Guy mentioned that someone else who had tried some of this wine from this batch and found it rather unpleasant. I think rather than anything being wrong with the batch of Thalabert it is simply that 1997 was never a vintage for long-term ageing and finally, sadly, the last great Thalabert has died.

Certainly if anyone had any that they’ve aged themselves in good conditions I’d be very happy to try it and hopefully find myself proved wrong, but I strongly suspect 16 years is simply too much to hope for from a 1997 Crozes. Pissflaps.

  • Gernot

    Hi David,

    on New Years Eve we had a bottle (unfortunately my last) of Crozes 1989! What an experience to drink such a great bottle of 23 year old Crozes Thalabert… Old Jaboulet will be missed!


  • Have about 30 bottles of the 90 Thalabert which is a truly brilliant wine and still good QPR. Another wine to bring to our lunch at the Ledbury when I get back in April!!

  • Alex Lake

    Not sure that 97 was ever a great (either for Thalabert or Chapelle). Got a stale old bottle at home…

  • Gernot, 89 is still lovely based on my last taste. The same goes for 1990, Mr P, excellent stuff. I look forward to some with Chablis. If it lasts that long I’ll bring Lash 95.

    97 was pretty good on release, Alex, but I never thought it was for the long haul. If Lash is going then Thalabert doesn’t stand much chance…. Didn’t go much for the 96s if we’re honest. Lash was pretty good but the acidity in Thalabert was just unnerving. I think I saw Mr P had drank some 96 La Guiraud recently; I found the acidity off-putting in that as well…

  • Guy

    Hi David,
    I’m very sorry to hear this bottle was knackered. It was from a case I split with someone, and the bottles have varied. Marie and I had a great bottle with Andrew Bajorek and it was great, as was another bottle. The friend who took the others found one knackered, but another couple outstanding. It’s such a shame you got one of the ones that had faded. I have one bottle left now. Hoping it won’t be the same experience you just had.
    It’s such a contrast with the 1983 non-Thalabert Hermitage from PJA that we enjoyed way back in Woolwich.

  • Hello Guy,

    Cannot be helped, don’t worry about it. Gave me a little buzz of excitement anyway just deciding to open it!

    Would you be interested in arranging a return match? I understand you’ve suddenly got to move so when you’re all settled, of course. We have one or two bottles that might be of interest to you…

    Best to Marie-Pierre!

  • Fond memories of the 89 here too. 🙂 Domaine Rousset Crozes-Hermitage Les Picaudières recently recommended to me as a CH to check out. Know them?

  • Hi Kim. I’ve only had them once, so not much of a sample size, but it seemed reasonable enough to me. Yann Chave’s prestige cuvee is really worth checking out. He makes a tiny amount of pretty good Hermitage, too.

  • Guy

    Hi David, would love to at some point, but we’re flat out at the moment. Both our joobs are very challenging in different ways (mine requiring being abroad part of the time) and we need to move… Let us be in touch when we’re more settled. All best, Guy

  • James

    The old top-end Jaboulet wines were full of character and much enjoyed, especially by the many of us who benefitted from your access, David, to LaCh 83 and 85 in particular. I recently had the good chance to arrange drinking Chave 97 alongside LaCh 97. The latter I had never tried but had long been intrigued by its reputation; the former I had last tasted in its relative infancy. To my surprise, more than one person whose palate I respected preferred LaCh 97 (which I found somewhat raisiny and overripe (consistent – to a degree – with its “exotic” reputation)) to the Chave, which was “cooler”, more perfumed and the majority preference. The “matrix” of preference between LaCh and Chave Hermitage would, I suspect, fluctuate up to approx 97 and then diverge to the favour of – I would think- the Chave side. But bottle variation would be a very important factor. I am less and less convinced that these sometimes old-fashioned wines repay ageing, given the risks, although some 97 and prior PJA wines remain wonderful when you get a good bottle.