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2003 Bordeaux, tasted June 2010

2003 was an interesting vintage in Bordeaux. It was by far the hottest vintage, with a stunning heat wave in August and the grapes were harvested perhaps the earliest ever. It was supposedly the hottest year in several hundred years.

Hyper influential critic, the man with the golden palate, and all around nice and big guy like me, Robert Parker, recommended mortgaging your house for a couple of wines, namely Lafite and Latour, but his and other reports on other Bordeaux were mixed.

Some grapes thrived in the heat. Some others didn't fare as well.

I convened with a group of friends to see how the 2003s were drinking. We drank a number of highly rated wines, although we left the Lafite and Latour at home - maybe we'll try those in a decade or so.

Overall the wines were better than I imaged they would be, as well as younger. It was hard to discern the quality of such young wines although they were clearly quite good, and some were clearly better than others. Who knows what we might think about them in a decade or two or three or more . . .

The wines were served double blind, so we knew nothing. We just had 8 2003 Bordeaux in front of us at once, and knew what one of the bottles was as we each brought one bottle.

2003 Duhart Milon - 92 out of 100 points

Nose - Deep cherry, thin black Asian fungus, rich and thick, maybe some date
Palate - Wow. Big. Tannic. Tasty. Dark Fruits.

I'm happy I have 8 of these stashed away. No hurry to drink them at all. Parker rated this 92+ points compared to my 92, but what's a "+" among friends?

2003 Pichon Baron - 92 out of 100 points

Nose - Slightly tart & reticent. Not very forthcoming. red fruit and dust

Palate - Smooth, round, big and friendly, with a high toned red taste

I'm guessing this one needs more time that the Duhart-Milon above as it was more closed. Parker rated it a 94. Trust him over me on this one!

2003 Pichon Lalande - 94 out of 100 points

Nose - High toned red pitched fruit, closed like and thin

Palate - tannic with very roundish tannins, red fruits with some purple, more rounded in the mid palate.

My wine of the night, and quite different in taste than smell at this stage of development. I'll admit to being a Pichon Lalade fan, and trying this blind simply proves that. This was rated 94 more on future potential although it was fun to drink. If I had any I wouldn't touch a bottle for probably a decade. A Parker 95 pointer.

2003 Pontet Canet - 90+ points out of 100, with a lot of upside potential

Nose - Red Syrup, a concentrated fruit bomb

Palate - Very balanced although very big with gentle round tannins. Very nice.

Parker gave this a 95 and he may be right. Hmmm, Parker 95 and a concentrated fruit bomb - that seems about right! I've got a case stashed away and am very happy about that. I'm sure it will evolve gracefully and in full Bordeaux style!

2003 Talbot - 91+ points out of 100

Nose - Dusty, furry, some red tones, not very open

Palate - Nice and smooth, with big and nice tannins. Lovely purplish fruits on the edge of the taste.

I like Talbot, in part because I have a friend named Alan Talbot! Parker gave it a 90 and described it as a "seductive" wine. Well, I'd neither describe this wine nor Alan Talbot as seductive, at least not at this stage of development. I found this more closed and reticent, in needing of some aging, than I would have expected.

2002 Waterstone Cabernet - a ringer! A California wine, supposedly made from grapes from a cult cab that are not used (but who really knows). I gave it 92+ points.

Nose - Red syrup, pomegranate juice, cassis. Very concentrated

Palate - Tannic with figs & cassis. Wonderful, round and delightful.

Parker gave this an 89 and called it a "very fine value." He suggested drinking it between 2005-2009, but this wine will still be going strong for a while.

2003 Leoville Barton - 93 out of 100 points, and my #2 wine of the night

Nose - Deep and dark, inviting, concentrated yet subdued. Very nice.

Palate - Smooth with sharper tannins than the other but not protruding. Rounded out with food and air.

Parker gave this a 95+ and I can see why as it has lots of potential and is quite (too) young right now. I'll agree with him as I've got a six pack put away.

2003 Calon Segur - 89 out of 100 points

Nose - Concentrated, clean, and thin red with lots in the reserve. Very promising.

Palate - A bit bitter and the harshish tannins of all the wines. Astringent and hard to rate.

I like Calon Segur a lot, and think this wine was just too closed to rate. It did get better as time went on and my last sip was the best of all. Parker gave it a 94 and I'll cede to him on this one.

2003 Lynsolence - 88 out of 100 points

Nose - Concentrated red fruits, not overly forthcoming, dusty

Palate - Big, round, rich and very tasty, definitely Bordeaux with some air. Somewhat disjointed.

A Parker 92. I would have expected this to be drinking much better right now.

2003 Sociando Mallet - tasted very briefly. No notes but this is a great wine, mid to low 90 points, and 94 according to Parker.


And for dessert, two Sauterne from 1/2 bottles:

2003 La Tour Blanche - 90 Points

Nose - Honey, apples, and a little pear

Palate - Smooth and wonderful, apple, pear, etc. - the fruits aren't distinct but perfectly blended. Candied cantaloupe emerged after a while.

I am a La Tour Blanche fan, and find it nice and a great ager even in off years. Parker gave it a 96, but as he's said before, he finds it tough to rate young Sauterne.

2003 Suduiraut - 94 points

Nose - a little lemon, some orange citrus. very nice

Palate - Very nice. Spiny Apple. Long and smooth. Pineapple.  Some sweet orange, perhaps candied, on the backend.

This blew away the La Tour Blanche, as well as a Suduiraut 1990 the next night and a Rieussec 2003 I had a few nights before. Parker gives this a 95, and it is one righteous Sauterne! The balance was impeccable.


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