Well, that's it then - I won't see 48 again, since today is my 49th birthday. No special celebrations for this one (I guess next year may be a bit more of a milestone) but after taking the afternoon off from the day job, I spent a nice afternoon with the lovely Diane (TLD) and opened lots of lovely presents (CD's, DVD's, books, smells, other bits and bobs).
I'm just typing this up whilst TLD prepares us a nice meal of pan-fried duck breast, Dauphinoise potatoes, sweet and sour red cabbage, glazed carrots and mushrooms. And all finished off with a lovely sauce made from home-made chicken stock and red wine vinegar, a large slug of vintage red Banyuls, brown sugar and (dare I say it?) some grated zest and juice of an orange. Very 70's, I know, but it is a real winner with duck, if it is done properly. TLD is pictured on the left, slaving away in the kitchen.
As for the wine, we'll be enjoying a bottle of Paul Jaboulet Ainé Domaine de Thalabert 1983 Crozes-Hermitage. Actually, we're already enjoying it, so I hope there will still be some left by the time we sit down to eat(!) We've had a few bottles of this vintage before - we also have some 1988 and 1990 tucked away - and still have a few left. Although this one probably isn't the best bottle of '83 we've had, it is still a really enjoyable drop. A lovely colour - still very bright and crystal clear, blood red, with shades of amber and a brick. The nose was a bit dumb to start with, but it has opened-out nicely into red fruits (raspberry and redcurrant and cranberry), citrus peel, mineral , with gamey hints, smoked bacon and lilies. Ideally, I'd like a bit more in the way of fruit and flowers, but it is still a lovely nose, given that it is now almost 27 years old. The fruit is also fading a bit on the palate, but there is still enough to make it a joy to drink, with hints of savoury and mineral and cracking acidity - the hallmark of a great (or at least very good) old Northern Rhone Syrah. Perhaps this particular bottle is a year or two past its absolute peak, but I'm still enjoying it immensely. Right - I'm off to eat!