July 28th, 2013

Not yet a month into 2013 and I already have experienced two 2003 Bordeaux horizontals. The 10 year anniversary retrospective is a traditional one and though perhaps more appropriate for the old style more backward harder tannins higher acidity Bordeaux it still gives a good snapshot of the vintage. Certainly 2003 was very controversial right from the start because of all the hot weather. Remember well the “tropical” storm during Vinexpo on June 24  that in an instant wiped out the black tie dinner of St. Emilion “Millesimes de Collection” set up in two small beautifully decorated outside tents at Chateau La Gaffeliere which was turned into the best wine tasting party in the cellars with only bread and old wines. Tragically this unprecedented European heat wave continued through the summer and in August many people especially in Paris died from it.

This update confirmed my opinion that this is indeed a variable vintage (unlike consistent 2005 & 2009). Certainly it showed the Bordelaise (and Bordelais) that the merlot variety doesn’t like gravel during these now often increasingly hot climate conditions. Seeing much less replanting of merlot on gravelly soil since 2003. The clay soils thrived in 2003 with their ability to retain mositure for the vines – see the success of St Estephe! Also helped at the lower end outlying regions of Bordeaux like Cotes de Castillon, Cotes de Bourg, and Fronsac that often don’t get enough heat for sufficient ripening.

Didn’t try any 2003 Pomerol or First Growths this month but Parker gave Lafite & Latour perfect 100 scores. Generally less impressed with the regions of Pessac-Leognan (Latour-Martillac quite herbal, light and simple), Margaux (but a dark rich impressive Malescot Saint-Exupery), and St Emilion – some riper though alcoholic ones are OK (atypical Petit-Village easy but drying out). My best wines were all from the Northern Medoc showing star quality from several St Estephe, Pauillac and St Julien chateaux. I preferred the AC Pauillac with Pontet Canet concentrated cedar and cassis so classy with some elegance less commonly found in this vintage. Liked both Pichons with the Lalande showing more smooth chocolate to go along with the usual herbal character of this property and the Baron is really outstandingly powerful and ripely dense. My Pauillac sleepers included Duhart Milon (nearly three quarters cab sauv), Clerc Milon, and D`Armailhac.

Hope you have collected some 2003 Bordeaux to try this year.  Let us know your impressions of this vintage with your own favs and please post your comments below.

July 28th, 2013

7 Responses

  1. Yvonne Wallis says:

    Agree Sid that 2003 came along with its tricks due to the heat. For that reason I bought very little 03 Burgundy or 03 Rhone and no 03 Bordeaux at all. Quite pleased now that I did buy a little Burgundy – signs that a few of the reds may be starting to integrate (whites a bit flabby). I’ve also found it a useful vintage to bring out when your audience is more familiar with new world wines (I’ve watched 03 Chevillon, Raphet and Arlaud convert some of the most hardened anti-Burgundy drinkers). A couple of gems from CNP in 03 too. But no Bdx! I will have to taste other people’s.

  2. Ian Westcott says:

    Thanks for your report Sid.
    2003 was an incredibly extreme year from the well publicized killer summer temperatures to the less know severe frosts in Champagne. Only Bx 2003 I have in the cellar is 2003 L’Oratoire – any one tasted this wine? 2003 Burgundy saw wines that were atypical in their colour, weight, alcohol and low acidity. That said many have turned out to be attractive red wines if one can get past their lack of typicity. Freddy Mugnier believes that at 30+ years his Musigny will be legendary in the style of 1947 – a legendary vintage where a large quantity of wine was sent to the distillery. After the hot vintage of 1997 most wineries were much better equipted to handle such hot conditions. A winemaker friend states he hates 2003 Red Burgs has had to eat humble-pie on a number of occassions when I have slipped 2003s into blind tastings.

  3. John Danza says:

    I’ve been involved in a couple of 2003 retrospectives and agree that they are all over the board. Some are fine, others are still closed down, while others still are showing the prune-like notes of over-ripeness or “cooked” grapes.

    The Sauternes however look like they will be great. The only strange aspect to the 2003 sweet whites is that they are a lot darker in color than is typical at this age. My cases of 2003 Suduiraut were bought on release and their color was similar to a 20-year-old Sauternes. But the flavors are excellent.

  4. Yvonne Wallis says:

    Hey John, tried the 03 La Tour Blanche? It is one very special Sauternes. Think it eclipsed Climens in 03.

  5. Peter Joyce says:

    Sorry Sid I purchased only the 1st growth 2003 Bordeaux in magnums. No others. Only Haut Brion has impressed me. The rest are a poor representation of Bordeaux at its best. But I did purchase a selection of Cote D’Or reds and they are just starting to show their quality. In 5+ years they should be enjoyable drinking!
    Peter C Joyce

  6. Chris Bonsall says:

    Hi Sid. Returned recently from warm Australia to attend a 60th birthday party of a dear friend at Cliveden, famous in 1963 for the Profumo Affair as to which see the movie Scandal.We were served wines from 2003 including Dom Perignon, which I did not think had anything to recommend and a nice Chablis Grand Cru Moreau but served way too cold as is often the case at restaurants and then Leoville Barton and Rieussec, both of which were drinking well and I confess I may have one two many glasses of the Leoville Barton, though the wine of the night was actually the Cockburn’s 1983 Port! Chris Bonsall.

  7. Scott Bailey says:

    Dear Sid,
    Enjoying your blog postings and the new monograph! Well written.

    2003 Bordeaux – based on 4/2012 and 1/2013 tastings of various wines, my assessment is to drink up the Merlot-dominant ones and then enjoy the cab sauv-dominant Northern Medoc wines. It is not going to be a vintage to make ‘old bones’; many wines are already ‘hollow’ where the fruit used to/should be.

    Tasted on 4/12:
    Figeac – drank well that evening; the cabernet sauvignon shone through and made this wine a winner; three bottles, uniformly similar.

    Palmer – weird bouquet; gangly, angular, not together, lacking in fruit; a ‘hole’ in the middle of the tasting continuum; short finish, very dry. Three bottles, similar results.

    Cos d’Estournel – wine of the night! Everything you want from Cos (or Montrose, for that matter); this is a keeper.

    Mouton – unusually soft, fleshy, fruity, ripe; an agreeably tasty, drinkable at this early stage of its life cycle. Accordingly, if you own this Mouton, check it frequently over the next five yrs and most probably drink it now.

    Ch Loupiac-Gaudiet – At this dinner, we reasoned that the major names in Sauternes / Barsac made great wines in this huge, sweet, alcoholic year 2003. If the majors are great, then what about the petits chateaux and other sweet wine producing areas? This is an excellent, mid-weight, mid-gold beverage with tropical fruit aromas, delicious acid/sweet balance and a satisfying, non-cloying finish. Excellent price:value drink.

    Tasted 1/13:
    Ch Monbousquet – fleshy, approachable, modest amount of fruit and initially satisfying beverage with food. Drink up, (because it faded in the glass after 30 mins).

    Ch Branaire-Ducru – the cabernet sauvignon component gave this wine more stuffing and a more classical claret style. Initially reserved, the wine’s cepage and classic flavors came through beautifully with food.

    Personally, I am accelerating the usage of whatever ’03’s are in my cellar; Merlot-dominant beverages first, followed by the Medocs. The major sweets will rest peacefully for years, whilst we enjoy the lesser sweets now.

    Bonne journee, et bon appetit!
    Scott Bailey
    Coral Gables, FL

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