TN: 2003 Red Bordeaux (Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux Tasting)

Drake Hotel, Chicago, Illinois
Tasted Thursday, January 26, 2006 - Friday, January 27, 2006 by Vino Me with 1,828 views

Introduction

I attended the Union des Grands Crus de Bordeaux tasting in Chicago on and tasted 45 2003 Red Bordeaux and 7 2003 Sauternes. I tasted about 25 of the red Bordeaux and took about a 30 minute break to grab something to eat and rest in the hopes of refreshing my palate. I then tried another 20 red Bordeaux before moving on to the Sauternes after another short break. My impressions of the vintage is that it is not equal to the 2000 but a fine vintage with some impressive wines. Some estates made better wines in 2003 than in 2000 but they are the exception and not the rule. Certainly a vintage to buy if you have not already done so. Much less tannic and more approachable in my opinion than 2000. Many of the wines exhibited a sweetness among the fruit that was not present in the 2000's at this stage. The best wines showed good concentration and depth. An exceptional vintage overall for the red wines. Based upon the wines I tasted, it seemed to me that the Left Bank preformed better than the Right Bank. Most of my top scoring wines came from Pauillac and St. Julien. I was less impressed with the Sauternes and will post notes on the seperately.

Flight 1 - Pessac-Leognan (4 Notes)

  • 2003 Château La Louvière 85 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan

    (1/26/2006)

    This was one of the more simple and rustic wines at the tasting. Light ruby colored. Notes of cherry and raspberry. Light to medium bodied wine. 85-86 points.

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  • 2003 Château La Tour-Martillac 89 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan

    (1/26/2006)

    This was a medium bodied wine with firm tannins at present. Notes of cassis and crushed grape skin with an underlying minerality. 89-90 points.

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  • 2003 Château Malartic-Lagravière 88 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan

    (1/26/2006)

    This wine is just a step below the 2000 vintage of this wine. A good medium red color. Moderately tannic but notes of bing cherry and berries were coming through. Tight finish. 88 points.

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  • 2003 Château Smith Haut Lafitte 93 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Graves, Pessac-Léognan

    (1/26/2006)

    Clearly the cream of the crop among the Pessc Leognan wines poured at this tasting. Much more substantial than its brethren. A nose of dreid tobacco leaves. Good concentration with notes of fig and mushroom compost. Medium to full bodied. Firm tannins. This is better than the 2001 and even the 2000 vintage of this wine at the same age. 92-93 points.

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Flight 2 - Saint Emilion (10 Notes)

  • 2003 Château Beau-Séjour Bécot 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    (1/26/2006)

    Here is an estate which surpassed its 2000 in my opinion. A very floral nose. The wine swirled on the palate. Fine tannins with notes of plum, herbs and black cherry. 91-93 points.

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  • 2003 Château Angélus 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    (1/26/2006)

    Deep purple color in this extracted wine. Notes of cedar and woody red fruit. Firm tannins which deprive this wine of balance now. It should come around though. Not as good as the classic 2000 in my opinion. 92-93 points.

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  • 2003 Château Canon 91 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    (1/26/2006)

    On par with the surprisingly good 2001. This wine had an old cupboard nose. Integrated tannins for such a young wine. Notes of chocolatey red fruit. Very elegant style with a smooth finish. 91+ points.

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  • 2003 Château Canon-la-Gaffelière 93 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    (1/26/2006)

    By a slight margin this was my favorite St. Emilion wine at the tasting. Crushed grape skins on the nose. Excellent complexity in this multilayered wine. Cherry and currant were the primary flavors but some indian spice and saddle leather were also in play. 92-94 points.

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  • 2003 Château Figeac 84 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    (1/26/2006)

    Something is wrong here. This was my least favorite wine of the tasting. Well below what this estate did in 2001. This was a style that I did not find to my liking. Sickly fruit notes of plum and cactus. Not much depth. 84 points.

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  • 2003 Château Grand Mayne 90 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    (1/26/2006)

    This estate made an encor to their very nice 2000 wine. A better nose with wonderful floral nuances. Medium bodied with berry and earthy notes. 90-91 points.

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  • 2003 Château La Couspaude 92 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    (1/26/2006)

    I liked this better than the 2000 vintage of this wine. I thought it was bigger. Notes of burnt toast, blackberry and vanilla oak. Medium to full bodied. Firm tannins which will need time to settle down. 92+ points.

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  • 2003 Château La Dominique 90 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    (1/26/2006)

    I think this is the first time I have had a wine from this estate. Notes of black fruit and green pepper. This had some underbrush or forest floor nuances as well. Dry finish. 89-91 points.

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  • 2003 Château La Gaffelière 90 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    (1/26/2006)

    This is better than the 2001 at the same stage. Toasted oak on the nose. Medium to full bodied with notes of plum and currant. Solid tannins which are not overpowering at present. 89-91 points.

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  • 2003 Château Troplong Mondot 93 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, St. Émilion Grand Cru

    (1/26/2006)

    This wine competed for top honors from St. Emilion in this tasting. Exotic spice aromas. One of the few St. Emilion wines which showed the sweet fruit that was present in the 2003 wines from so many other appelations. An upfront wine with bold powerful tannins. Much of the fruit was hidden but I liked the full mouth feel and underlying complexity. 92-93+ points.

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Flight 3 - Pomerol (4 Notes)

  • 2003 Château Gazin Pomerol 90 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol

    (1/26/2006)

    This wine had a toasty nose. Medium bodied wine. Notes of blueberry and raw meat. It was lipsmackingly dry on the finish. 89-91 points.

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  • 2003 Château La Cabanne 87 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol

    (1/26/2006)

    Probably my least favorite Pomerol at the tasting but not bad. I found the tannins to be dry. On the palate there were notes of sour fruit and tart cherry. Medium bodied. 86-88 points.

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  • 2003 Château La Conseillante 93 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol

    (1/26/2006)

    I've never tried a young wine from this estate so I don't have a base for comparison. The nose was quite full and aromatic. 80% merlot and 20% Cab Franc aged in 100% new oak. Dry with notes of currant and leather. Medium to full bodied. The tannins were most prevalent on the finish. My favorite Pomerol. WS underated this from barrel. 92-94 points

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  • 2003 Château Petit Village 89 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Libournais, Pomerol

    (1/26/2006)

    This wine had a round texture and displayed notes of red and black berries with some tea nuances. A rather fruity style. The tannins are solid but not intrusive. 89-90 points.

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Flight 4 - Haut-Medoc (1 Note)

  • 2003 Château Cantemerle 88 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Haut-Médoc

    (1/26/2006)

    This is a value oriented 5ht growth estate which normally makes some very good QPR wines. I loved their 2000 which was much better than this bottle. This is a wine to drink young (say within 12-15 years of the vintage). Notes of spice and currant with a ripe texture. A little lacking in depth. 88-89 points.

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Flight 5 - Margaux (10 Notes)

  • 2003 Château Brane-Cantenac 91 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    (1/27/2006)

    Nice followup to the outstanding 2000. I found this wine to be just a step below the 2000 but a wonderful wine nonetheless. Very pretty and generous nose. Medium to full bodied. Tannins are firmly entrenched and the currant and black fruit notes had to struggle to shine. Some refreshing tartness on the finsih. 90-92 points.

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  • 2003 Château Cantenac Brown 89 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    (1/27/2006)

    Another wine which approached but did not match its counterpart from the 2000 vintage. I found this wine to be rather restrained. Notes of blackberry and wet underbrush. It faded on the finish a bit. 88-90 points.

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  • 2003 Château Dauzac 91 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    (1/27/2006)

    This estate makes wines in an old world style that I enjoy. This was similar in style to their 1998. Medium bodied and elegant. A core of sweet fruit which included cherry, ripe plum and some milktoast notes. The tannins were rather integrated. 91+ points

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  • 2003 Château du Tertre 90 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    (1/27/2006)

    I think R2-D2 and I have a difference of opinion on this wine. I liked it better than he did. This wine is better than the 2001 vintage but not as concentrated and deep as the outstanding 2000. Notes of black cherry, plum and beef jerky. It had a sweet finish and was medium bodied. 89-91 points.

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  • 2003 Château Giscours 89 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    (1/27/2006)

    I think I liked both the 2000 and 2001 better than this vintage. This was a round wine with a meaty texture. Cassis and wild game notes were present. Moderately tannic. 89-90 points.

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  • 2003 Château Kirwan 88 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    (1/27/2006)

    This was the first time I recall having a wine from this estate. Old world style. The tannins were present but not overpowering. Some saddle leather and kirsh notes. Nothing that exciting but a nice wine. 88-89 points.

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  • 2003 Château Labégorce 86 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    (1/27/2006)

    Not impressed by this effort. On the nose I found pleasing pencil lead aromas. However, this wine was light bodied with thin fruit. Some red fruit and bubble gum nuances. 86 points.

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  • 2003 Château Lascombes 91 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    (1/27/2006)

    This 2nd growth estate made a very nice wine but I had hoped that they would do better. Plenty of oak in this wine. Moderate tannins with tobacco, wet earth and cassis notes. A dry but smooth finish. Should come around. 91-92+ points.

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  • 2003 Château Rauzan-Ségla 90 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    (1/27/2006)

    The last wine I had from this estate was the 2001 which was very disappointing. The 2003 is much better but still underpreforms for a 2nd growth estate. This was a muted and restrained wine at present. Firm tannins. Notes of red berry and currant in the background. Nice finish. 88-91 points.

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  • 2003 Château Siran 88 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Margaux

    (1/27/2006)

    This wine is aged in 60-70% new oak. I thought this was a very integrated and elegant wine . Medium bodied with notes of red currant and melon. The finish came off as simple. 88 points.

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Flight 6 - Saint Julien (5 Notes)

  • 2003 Château Branaire-Ducru 87 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    (1/27/2006)

    One of the disappointments of the 2003 vintage. Were was the estate that made the excellent 2000? The wine had a promising dark reddish purple color but lacked concentration on the palate. It started off with simple fruit. The tannins were mild. Some red berry notes but overall on the thin side. 86-88 points.

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  • 2003 Château Gruaud Larose 93 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    (1/27/2006)

    On par with the outstanding 1989 and 2000 bottles that I have had. Better than the 1996 or 2001 in my opinion. A controversial wine since Parker gave it 86-88 from barrel and WS gave it 95-100. I bought on WS's advise and I'm glad I did. Deep red color. Wonderful concentration. Typical Gruaud profile. Notes of tobacco, prune and cedar. An earthy tecture with frim tannins at present. Full bodied with a long finish. 93+ points.

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  • 2003 Château Lagrange (St. Julien) 94 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    (1/27/2006)

    I've only had a few vintages of Lagrange but this was head and shoulders above anything else I have had from this estate. Bordering on classic. Excellent nose filled with cedar aromas. Sweet ripe fruit notes of black currant, cassis, milky red fruit and toasted oak. Creamy texture with some vanilla on the finish. 94 points.

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  • 2003 Château Léoville Poyferré 91 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    (1/27/2006)

    The equivalent of the 2001 but a far cry from the 2000 in my opinion. Others have raved about this bottle so it would not surprise me if the bottle at this tasting was off a little. However, I can only report on what I tried. This was a round wine but had some moldy and sickly fruit notes on the nose. Moderately tannic. This wine tasted better than it smelled. Creamy red and black fruit with leather notes. Nice finish. 90-92 points.

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  • 2003 Château Talbot 90 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Julien

    (1/27/2006)

    Almost the equal of the fine 2000 vintage. One of the softer wines at the tasting but a style I liked. Beautiful sweet and inviting nose. Notes of plum and gravel. Soft tannins. 89-91 points.

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Flight 7 - Pauillac (9 Notes)

  • 2003 Château Batailley 89 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    (1/27/2006)

    This could be a very good to outstanding wine with time. However, at present the tannins seemed overpowering. As a result most of the fruit was hidden. Some berry notes with tobacco leaf aromas. 88-89+ points.

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  • 2003 Château Clerc Milon 93 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    (1/27/2006)

    One of the stars of the 2003 vintage. 48% Cab, 34% Merlot, 14% Cab Franc, 3% Petit Verdot and 1% Carmenere. This 5th growth estate is the neighbor of 2 Rothschilds (Lafite and Mouton). This was a very smooth and integrated wine. Moderate tnnins which were in check. Nice earthy texture in this medium bodied wine. Black cherry and kirsh notes. 92-93 points.

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  • 2003 Château d'Armailhac 90 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    (1/27/2006)

    57% Cab, 21% Merlot, 20% Cab Franc and 1% Petit Verdot. Comparable to the 2000 vintage of this wine in quality but not style. Softer and more approachable than the 2000. Raspberry and leather notes. 90 points.

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  • 2003 Château Grand-Puy Ducasse 88 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    (1/27/2006)

    One of the lesse Pauillacs at this tasting. This wine has a healthy dose of Merlot (45%). A forward wine with sweet fruit upfront. Medium bodied. Some bitterness shows up on the finish. 88 points.

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  • 2003 Château Haut-Bages Libéral 90 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    (1/27/2006)

    This is one of the fine value estates that I have purchased in the past. They made an outstanding 2000. This was not up to that standard but very good nonetheless. Sweet fruit which was common in many 2003's. Low tannins. A round texture with currant and elderberry notes. 89-91 points.

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  • 2003 Château Lynch-Bages 94 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    (1/27/2006)

    One of the top wines from Pauillac at this tasting. Not as good as the classic 2000 but far better than the 1999. I would put this on the level of the 1989 and 1990 which is quite a compliment in my opinion. Sweet tannins and very approachable now. This wine had a soft and supple texture. Very elegant with tobacco, kirsh and red fruit notes. Moderate bite on the finish. 93-95+ points.

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  • 2003 Château Lynch-Moussas 87 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    (1/27/2006)

    This 5th growth estate has been an underpreformer for as long as I can remember. Medium to full bodied. Slightly higher in tannin than other 2003's. Notes of gamey meat and blackberry but a little awkward. 87 points.

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  • 2003 Château Pichon-Longueville Baron 94 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    (1/27/2006)

    Just as good as the 2000 in my opinion. probably the finest Pauillac at this tasting (although the Lynch Bages gave it a run for the money). Smooth integrated tannins. Well built and flowing wine. Pretty flowery nose with indian spice aromas. Notes of dark chocolate and crushed red berries. Long finish. 94-95 points.

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  • 2003 Château Pontet-Canet 91 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, Pauillac

    (1/27/2006)

    A step below the 2000 bottling. This wine is mostly Cab Sauvignon. It was fruity and medium bodied. Notes of cocoa and blackberry. Creamy finish. 90-91 points.

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Flight 8 - Saint Estephe (2 Notes)

  • 2003 Château Lafon-Rochet 89 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

    (1/27/2006)

    Another estate which could not duplicate its outstanding 2000 wine. An elegant wine nonetheless. However, it lacked the concentration and depth of the 2000. Mocah and cassis came across on the palate. 89-90 points.

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  • 2003 Château Phélan Ségur 86 Points

    France, Bordeaux, Médoc, St. Estèphe

    (1/27/2006)

    One of only 2 St. Estephe wines I tried at this tasting. I was not impressed. It had a slightly skunky nose. Nice sweet tannins with smoky red fruit and cassis notes. Somewhat dry finish. 86-87 points.

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Closing

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