Buying Wine

Pick My Next Bottle – 2003 Châteauneuf-du-Pape

The July installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on Châteauneuf-du-Pape from the the 2003 vintage. As I mentioned in the first installment, the purpose of this series is to provide insight into specific wines or producers you may currently have in your cellar. The winning bottle will be opened on Saturday and a Bottle Note will be published the following week.

2003 was, simply put, one of the hottest vintages on record in Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The grapes had high sugar levels and low acidity. Robert Parker gave the vintage a conservative score of 90 points while the Wine Spectator weighed in at 93 points. The very best of the best from CdP have aged well but many of the wines should be consumed in the very near term. I think it is high time to check in on some of the bottlings from my very favorite CdP producers.

The Contenders

  • 2003 Clos des Papes – A great bottle and showing the hallmark elegance of the estate, the 2003 Clos des Papes Chateauneuf du Pape offers up a kirsch liqueur, liquid flower, red licorice and spice-box driven bouquet along with a full-bodied, seamless, silky profile on the palate. Still beautifully put together and aging gracefully, with a core of sweet fruit, it is certainly drinking well now, yet should continue to hold and drink nicely through 2020. 98 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2003 Beaucastel – Much like it was in 1998, the blend for Beaucastel’s 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape includes more Grenache (50%) since that varietal was both consistent and of high quality. The balance is 20% Mourvedre, and 30% such varietals as Syrah and Counoise. Its deep ruby/purple color is accompanied by an earthy style, moderately high levels of tannin, and neither the suppleness nor forward flamboyance of the 2000 or 2001. Dense, full-bodied, and structured, the 2003 is clearly a vin de garde. It will require 5-6 years of bottle age, and should drink well for 15-18. 93 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2003 Clos Saint Jean Combe des Fous – A big, ripe and voluptuous effort, the 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape Combe des Fous is thrilling stuff that’s drinking beautifully. Incense, exotic pepper, cedar and spice are all supported by a ripe core of sweet kirsch and blackberry fruit. It’s full-bodied, rich, textured and voluptuous on the palate. Showing no signs of over-ripeness or astringency, with polished tannin and excellent mid-palate depth, it pumps out loads of fruit on the finish, and should be consumed over the coming handful of years… As to the Combe des Fous release, this cuvée comes from a single plot of vines and is based largely on Grenache, with roughly 20% Syrah and 10% each of Vaccarese and Cinsault in the blend. The Grenache is aged all in tank and the other components see time in mostly demi-muids. While the Deux ex Machina always impresses more with its overt power and muscle, this cuvee always seems more polished, fine and elegant to me. 97 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which 2003 Châteauneuf-du-Pape should I open?

  • Clos des Papes (59%, 13 Votes)
  • Beaucastel (32%, 7 Votes)
  • Clos Saint Jean Combe des Fous (9%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 22

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Thanks for voting! I’d love to see a comment below on why you picked one bottle over another.

Also, let me know if you have any suggestions for the August Installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

I wrote about the 2003 vintage in France previously in Reflections on the 2003 Vintage in France.

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5 thoughts on “Pick My Next Bottle – 2003 Châteauneuf-du-Pape

  1. 2003 Clos des Papes is my choice. No particular reason other than my curiosity about how this one has aged after 12 years.

  2. I really enjoy Clos des Papes. That was my favorite visit in CDP last month. I like the Burgundian influence. Can’t go wrong with any of those three, though!

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