Bordeaux 2003 – Sauternes & Barsac

The outstanding feature of the 2003 vintage in Sauternes was the exceptional rapidity of the harvest and the extraordinary richness of the musts and the high residual sugar levels that resulted. The exceptional heat of August had produced extremely ripe grapes so that when showers in early September gave the necessary humidity, the botrytis exploded. It was like 1990 all over again, except the vintage passed even more rapidly; many châteaux harvested 80%-90% of their grapes in one `trie’ in 10 days. While 1990 produced residual sugar levels in the finished wines of between 120-135 grams, and 2001 saw levels around 140g, in 2003 levels of 150g up to 200g were recorded. One would need to look at 1929 for any comparison. The extraordinary concentration of these wines has meant a slower than usual development, and so makes them harder to taste and evaluate; while some wines are clearly outstanding, the balance of others is still hard to judge. One must be cautious about making anything more than provisional judgments at this stage. David Peppercorn MW

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Written by Decanter