Over the last couple years I have become very enamored with wines from the Southern Rhone Valley in the South of France. The red wines from the Southern Rhone are primarily made with the Grenache grape with some Syrah or Mourvedre sometimes blended in. It is only recently that I have started to discover and really enjoy wines from the Northern Rhone. In the north it is the Syrah that becomes the star. Northern Rhone wines are typically made with either all Syrah or Syrah-based with some other grapes blended in.
This 2005 Crozes Hermitage from Paul Jaboulet Aine is a very nice example of what you can get with a good Northern Rhone red. In your glass the color is a very basic ruby red. The nose is subtle but quite nice with a complex bouquet. You get cherry and blackberry fruit with some smoke and spice and a subtle but welcome earthiness. In your mouth you get more of the same with great black cherry fruit flavors and some of the peppery spice you expect from a good Syrah. This is backed up with some good acidity and solid tannins to make for a very well structured wine.
This wine has the muscle to pair well with a nice steak, but it also has enough finesse to pair nicely with a number of different dishes. It would be perfect with a grilled leg of lamb.
As far as value goes, I love finding wines that taste more expensive than they are, and I wish this was the case with this one . This Crozes Hermitage is probably priced exactly right. It's about $22 and tastes just like a wine in that price range should. No great value here, but certainly fair value for the money.