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2003 Red Bordeaux
The heatwave of summer 2003 experienced throughout France made the vintage in Bordeaux statistically the hottest on record. The sweltering conditions propelled many growers into an abnormally early harvest fearing dangerously high alcohol levels, fearsome tannins and feeble acidity. Fortune favoured well-located growers who stayed the course however, as refreshing rains came in mid-September followed by a fine but cooler period which allowed equilibrium to return. What could have been a disaster was turned to advantage, particularly for châteaux with Cabernet vines lying close to the Gironde estuary. Whilst there are numerous casualties of the vintage, others have succeeded magnificently, fashioning wines of monumental ripeness, heady structure and yet freshness of flavour. The upper Médoc appellations – Pauillac, St-Julien and St-Estèphe – have been particularly blessed and, on account of its 'terroir', the commune of Margaux has produced many notable wines. Elsewhere the picture is patchier, but high quality wines can still be found with careful selection. 2003 is not for the faint-hearted, nor for those who like to drink claret young; this is a wine collector's vintage, a year for long-term cellaring.
2003 White & Rosé Bordeaux
The exceptional summer conditions of 2003 resulted in some superb wines, though not all have ideal balance of acidity and alcohol. Where access to water was unimpeded, delicious dry whites have been made, fulsome with bright fruit characters. Moderate acidity levels may impact on keeping potential, so that lesser wines are to be enjoyed with immediate effect. The heat permitted the production of many truly luscious dessert wines too, with some, but not all, producers declaring their best wines on record. The acidity balance is key to longevity and early impressions are of an intense vintage but one for the medium term.