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2003 Red Rhône
A year which tested growers and winemakers to the limits. The sultry conditions accelerated sugar ripeness and there was always the risk of excessive alcohol and, paradoxically, under-ripe skins. In the south it was the old vines (as in Châteauneuf-du-Pape) and in the north those on the steepest slopes (as in Hermitage) which withstood the onslaught and some excellent wines have been made. Inevitably the fruit was super-ripe and a port-like sweetness is evident in some cuvées. Time will tell whether the acid/alcohol/tannin balance is suitable for long-term ageing, though the intense attraction of the wines will ensure the majority are consumed in youth.
2003 White & Rosé Rhône
The intense summer heat was less than ideal for the delicate white varieties of the Rhône. It led to risk of over-ripeness and elevated alcohols and growers had to pick at exactly the right time to avoid loss of freshness. While the wines have offered an unusual depth of flavour the soft, low-acid structures will inhibit long ageing in all but the best white hermitage.