The 2003 Burgundy vintage is short in quantity, the result of an excessively hot summer following on from a savage attack of frost in April.

The 2003 Burgundy vintage is short in quantity, the result of an excessively hot summer following on from a savage attack of frost in April. It’s largely disappointing for whites, although the red wines are good if not classic, and the Beaujolais are splendid.

In the Côte d’Or, only those cooler areas unaffected by the frost have produced white wines of balance and freshness. If it’s whites you’re after, you’re best advised to go back to 2002, or wait for 2004 which is showing early promise. Unless, of course, you’re a fan of Aligoté – this usually tart variety has produced some unusually ripe 2003s.

For the reds, it’s an even more uneven vintage than ususal. Stick to the top estates and you will not go wrong. That said, 2003 is better in the Côte de Nuits than the Côte de Beaune, and at its most successful in those communes which normally produce the most robust wines (as a result of the high proportion of clay in their soils). This means, in general, take Pommard rather than Volnay, Corton or Nuits-Saint-Georges rather than Vosne-Romanée, and Gevrey-Chambertin rather than Morey-Saint-Denis.