Cellar Management

Pick My Next Bottle – 2003 Showdown

The March Installment of Pick My Next Bottle focuses on wines from 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 this Saturday and a Bottle Note will be published shortly thereafter.

We all know the background on the historically hot 2003 vintage in Europe. The wines are incredibly polarizing. From my experience, the top wines of the vintage are fruit forward and aging well. Heat was also an issue in Napa Valley. With all that being said the wines are now 15 years of age so we would all be well served to check in on them periodically.

The Contenders:

  • 2003 Léoville-Poyferré – The spectacular 2003 Leoville Poyferre exhibits a dense purple color with a touch of lightening at the edge as well as notes of creosote, barbecue smoke, jammy black currants, licorice and spice box. This intense, voluptuously textured, full-bodied St.-Julien possesses low acidity and ripe tannin. Still fresh and exuberant, it is just entering its plateau of full maturity where it should remain for 10-15+ years. 96 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2003 Antinori Tignanello – Antinori’s 2003 Tignanello (85% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc) is a terrific effort. Typical Sangiovese notes of red cherries, tobacco and underbrush dominate the flavor profile of this intensely flavored Tignanello that manages to be ripe and open, while retaining notable balance and freshness, although the tannins dry out a bit on the back end. This is a delicious Tignanello to enjoy now and over the next decade. The high altitude of the vineyards was clearly an asset in 2003. Anticipated maturity: 2007-2018.  92 points from Vinous.
  • 2003 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon – In 2003, production jumped up to 3,700 cases, with the blend identical to so many other vintages with 96% Cabernet Sauvignon and 4% Cabernet Franc. This was a year where there was some freaky heat spells, but this wine has come through nicely. Deep bluish purple with notes of blackberry and cassis and charcoal followed by a soft, velvety textured, opulent and full-bodied wine that seems to be approaching full maturity. It is interesting, this wine is far more evolved, and on a faster evolutionary track than the 2001 or 2002. Nevertheless it is a beauty, loaded, layered and impressive. It must be one of the top 2003s. Drink it over the next 20-some years. 95 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which Wine from the 2003 Vintage Should I Open?

  • 2003 Léoville-Poyferré (43%, 17 Votes)
  • 2003 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon (40%, 16 Votes)
  • 2003 Antinori Tignanello (18%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 40

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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 April installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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6 thoughts on “Pick My Next Bottle – 2003 Showdown

  1. Léoville-Poyferré! I have a soft spot for that estate and I think the last impact of 2003 was felt more in the shorter lifespans of Bordeaux so I would err on opening that first. I suspect the Tignanello and Spottswoode will have more time left in them.

  2. I had to go Spottswoode too. The 03’s in Napa are generally just ok, and as a lover of Spottswoode for many years I’m curious to see how well it’s holding up. Plus I think the other 2 will have more life in them.

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