Rhone (North) - 2003
Chunky wines with high but ripe tannins meant for laying down.
Only those whose nickname is Olympic Flame (never goes out) can have failed to realise that summer 2003 was one long, hot event.
The northern Rhône heat was quite exceptional: early August's 42°C in the villages – 10°C above normal – meant 60°C+ in the hillside vines. This baking led to early harvests everywhere: "I started the 26th August – two weeks early - and was among the last to pick," comments Auguste Clape at Cornas. "We had finished all picking by 31st August,'" states Philippe Guigal, Côte-Rôtie. At Châteauneuf, La Nerthe started cropping the reds on 23rd August, Vieux Télégraphe 25th August. These are extraordinarily early dates. In the best cases, this meant incredible concentration.