Port - 2003
There are some solid, well-structured wines that, like the 1997s, will repay keeping.
The Douro Valley is not averse to a blast of heat and in 2003 this was balanced by plenty of rain which fell at just the right time. The previous winter had been abnormally wet, with 1,000mm of rain falling at Pinhão between November 2002 and March 2003. This is more than double the ten-year average. The spring was mild and budburst was early, but yet more rain fell in April which caused some difficulties. Flowering took place in late May amid perfect conditions. Mid-June was hot, but heavy rain fell at the end of the month and again in mid-July. This proved to be enormously beneficial. The notorious 2003 heatwave arrived in the first two weeks of August. While the Douro is used to daytime temperatures in excess of 40C, night-time temperatures staying above 30C are more unusual, and nerves were frayed. Rain fell again at the end of August. This was crucial to the quality of the fruit harvested a few days later. In the eastern-most Douro Superior, the harvest began as early as 1 September and some growers undoubtedly picked before the grapes were physiologically ripe. With temperatures now back in the 20s, sugar levels rose rapidly in the first half of September taking many growers by surprise.
Tannin seems to be the hallmark of this vintage, making these wines hard to taste and appreciate at this early stage. They are much more difficult than the somewhat atypical, super-ripe and voluptuous 1994s, or even the 2000s. There are some solid, well-structured wines that, like the 1997s, will repay keeping.
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