Revisiting 2003 Bordeaux

When high reviews came out for the 2003 vintage in Bordeaux, I was pretty skeptical. Really? Weeks of 100 degree weather producing Bordeaux of that caliber? I don’t think so. Grapes need slow ripening periods of mild sunshine and heat, with cooler temperatures at night. I was in France the summer of 2003 and I guarantee there was nothing mild about that heat, and absolutely nothing to cool you off at night. So if I could not cool down and sleep at night, how on earth could the grapes?

It’s not that I didn’t think the wine from the vintage could be good – I bet it tasted fantastic in the barrels – lots of ripe fruit, higher alcohol, plush in texture – what I doubted was its ability to age well. Even over a few years. When temperatures spike like that in the vineyards, balance gets out of whack in the grapes, and balance is a key component in wine aging. My thought about the ’03 (because I had had some basic ’03 Bordeaux that I did not fancy) was that five years down the road, the wines would take on a “stewed fruit” character, typical of wine that have too much extracted fruit and high alcohol.

But last night, I had the opportunity to taste the 2003 Chateau de Pez, a Cru Bourgeois from St. Estephe. I was bit disappointed when my husband brought it out of the cellar for dinner, as I think we have quite a few better wines than any ’03 Bordeaux. But, it was his birthday, after all, and I was the one that messed up the babysitter schedule which led to us having birthday dinner at home.

We popped out the huge Bordeaux glasses, got the ribeye steak cooking and poured ourselves a bit to swirl and help the wine aerate and open up.

And indeed it did. No longer would I dis the ’03 vintage. There was not a stewed fruit to be found in this lovely bottle. There were marks of blackberry and currant, a touch of wood notes, some coffee style undertones and a bit of herbs. Tannins were elegant, completely integrated but present. Nice long finish and just all around great. I’ve had more complex wines, but this easily beat out a wines I’ve had for twice the price.

Not sure where you can find the ’03, but the 2005 vintage, which is a highly touted vintage in Bordeaux, is currently available and less than $50!

It will be on my next order and will definitely keep you posted on how compares. Meanwhile, I may be digging around to taste some more 2003 Bordeaux. I love it when wine can change your mind.