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2003 vintage guide for Sauternes and Barsac

See Decanter's vintage guide for Sauternes and Barsac 2003

Sauternes and Barsac 2003


From the best estates, ripe, powerful, concentrated sweet wines with excellent botrytis expression and aging potential; watch out for flabby wines from lesser estates

Weather Conditions

Already well concentrated by the summer heat and drought, light rainfall between 5 and 10 September promoted the botrytis which attacked the grapes in a uniform manner.
This alternating heat and moisture, helped by an east wind, completed the process of concentration. After a first picking of certain parcels which appeared passerillized by the heat, the remainder of the crop was gathered in a single picking, an exceptional harvest for Sauternes.
Extraordinarily rich and opulent, the first musts show sugar-levels rarely achieved in the past, together with very high alcohol content with aromas of apricot symptomatic of top-quality Sauternes. Conditions for sweet wines were similar in St Croix-du-Mont, Loupiac and Cadillac on the opposite bank.
Unlike yield in other parts (red or dry white), production of the sweet botrytized wines this year showed a net increase over 2002 which produced an average yield for Sauternes of 16 hectos/hectare. Quantity will therefore be greater since the weather conditions promoted early picking, and less waste. Quality + quantity should be the end result.

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