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.