Bordeaux: Estates That Beat 2003's Heat

By Robert Parker

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Châteaux with humble pedigrees can surprise you in a year of heat and drought, especially if they have moisture-retentive soil better-known estates lack. That certainly is the case with the 2003 vintage in Bordeaux. Following are some terrific, intensely concentrated wines from the vintage. They prove that not all Bordeaux wines are incredibly expensive. They're all between $14 and $25 a bottle.

Gigault Cuvée Viva 2003 (Premières Côtes de Blaye)

90 points.

Stéphane Derenoncourt is the winemaking consultant behind what could be among the greatest values of the vintage. Full-bodied and opulent with oodles of black cherry and cassis fruit, smoked herbs, sweet licorice, and charcoal notes, this stunningly proportioned wine must be tasted to be believed. It should age beautifully for four to six years, but who can resist it now? $14

Cambon La Pelouse 2003 (Haut-Médoc)

87 points.

It comes from a huge southern Médoc estate that is part of the high-quality Haut-Médoc group of châteaux called Biturica. The wine offers chocolate, toasty oak, and black cherry characteristics in its medium-bodied, deep, modern, up-front, appealing style. Drink it over the next five to six years. $16

Belle-Vue 2003 (Haut-Médoc)

88 points.

An excellent choice for those seeking fairly priced, high-quality classic Bordeaux. This nearly 25-acre vineyard is planted with an unusually high percentage of petit verdot (20%) along with 50% cabernet sauvignon and 30% merlot. A strong success, the 2003 offers a fragrant bouquet of black cherry jam, cedar, and toasty vanilla, a beautiful texture, and considerable persistence on the palate. The final blend included 27% petit verdot, which is a remarkably high amount for a Bordeaux wine. Perhaps that extra petit verdot explains the freshness in this wine from the southern Médoc. Enjoy over the next seven to eight years. $19

Brisson 2003 (Côtes de Castillon)

87 points.

A sleeper of the vintage, this delicious, uncomplicated, corpulent wine is dominated by merlot. It offers plenty of mocha, black cherry, and herb-like characteristics, as well as a big, plush entry, a silky texture, and an elegant, fleshy finish. Sip it over the next four to five years. $20

La Vieille Cure 2003 (Fronsac)

92 points.

The best wine yet made at La Vieille Cure, which is becoming one of the finest estates in Fronsac. It's a must-buy for seekers of tremendous quality at a great price. Its dense ruby/purple color is followed by sweet aromas of scorched earth, black raspberries, crème de cassis, and notions of cherries, smoke, and crushed rocks. This big, full-bodied, captivating wine is both structured and exceptionally long. Anticipated maturity: 2007 to 2018+. $23

D'Escurac 2003 (Médoc)

89 points.

The wine is much better than its pedigree would suggest. It reveals a deep ruby/purple color as well as a bouquet of burning embers, black currants, cherries, and licorice. Medium-bodied, gorgeously fruity, lushly textured, well-balanced, and with a long finish, it will provide lovely drinking over the next five to six years. $23

Tour Haut-Caussan 2003 (Médoc)

90 points.

This wine exhibits a dense ruby/purple color with notes of incense, tobacco smoke, cedar, and black currants. Spicy, medium-bodied, and moderately tannic, drink it over the next 5 to 10 years. $25

Wines rated from 96-100 are extraordinary; 90-95, excellent; 80-89, above average to very good.

Visit for the Internet's most active wine bulletin board, tens of thousands of tasting notes, or to order his recent book, The World's Greatest Wine Estates: A Modern Perspective. You can also subscribe to Parker's newsletter, The Wine Advocate. Request a sample copy at: The Wine Advocate, P.O. Box 311, Monkton, MD 21111

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