Sauternes - 2003
Sauternes has enjoyed the best decade of vintages most growers can remember. These marvellous sweet wines may be enjoyed young in the first five years or kept for 15 years or more. The most outstanding recent year is 2001, but very good wines were made in 2007, 2006, 2005 and 2003. 2004 and 2002 were fair. 2000 was more modest.
From the best estates, ripe, powerful, concentrated sweet wines with excellent botrytis expression and ageing potential; watch out for flabby wines from lesser estates.
Already well concentrated by the summer heat and drought, light rainfall between 5th and 10th 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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