Medoc/Graves - 2003
Exceptional hot year, making rich, full, almost sweet wines. Most will be best enjoyed in their first decade.
In the best areas of the Médoc, the cabernets, the majority grape on the left bank, showed exemplary ripeness with great aromatic finesse, high alcohol content and good extraction of the anthocyanins (colour). The harvest was officially declared on September 8th, generalized by September 15th, completed by the first days of October, about the date picking began last year.
According to Allan Sichel (Palmer - d'Angludet) this might be called a terroir year since vine-growing or winemaking techniques will have little impact. There were contrasting situations, but oddly this year the so-called 'lesser' (heavier) soil areas appeared to do better than poorer terroirs normally expected to produce the great wines.
Ideal conditions in September tended to favour the later ripening cabernets over the earlier merlots. Generally on soils which retain humidity, the wines show deep, rich colour, very up-front, with low acidity. Complexity and balance must be judged when the wines are tasted.
With extremely low yield – in Margaux the average was a mere 25 hectolitres/hectare – due to vine stress from the heat, production is well below average.