Cellar Management

Pick My Next Bottle – A 2003 Chateauneuf-du-Pape for Thanksgiving

The November 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 Thanksgiving and a Bottle Note will be published this coming weekend.

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. Most of the wines were best consumed years ago but all the bottles below seem to be standing the test of time despite the conditions of the vintage.

The Contenders

  • 2003 Clos des Papes – While I’ve always loved the 2003 Chateauneuf du Pape, it was extremely controversial in its youth due to its exuberance and ripeness. Yet today, with the wine at maturity, all of that controversy has been put to bed and I know of no one contesting the beauty of this wine. As to the wine, this beautiful 2003 offers a kaleidoscope of kirsch liqueur, Asian spices, ground herbs, blackberries and incense. Full-bodied, textured, ripe and plush, Avril commented that this would evolve similar to the ’89, but I certainly see no need to delay gratification here and would drink up while the getting’s good! (09/15). 97 points from the Wine Advocate.
  • 2003 Clos Saint Jean Deus Ex Machina – Even better than the La Combe des Fous and representing the essence of the southern Rhone, with notions of beef blood, ground pepper, melted licorice and kirsch liqueur, the 2003 Clos Saint Jean Chateauneuf du Pape Deus-Ex Machina is broad-shouldered and structured on the palate, with a meaty chewiness to its texture, masses of ripe tannin and blockbuster length on the finish. Seamless, decadently rich, yet also weightless, it is a monumental Chateauneuf du Pape that will stand with the greatest wines of the world. It will continue to evolve gracefully, but why wait. (06/13). 100 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. (08/14). 97 points from the Wine Advocate.

Which 2003 Chateauneuf-du-Pape Should I Open?

  • 2003 Clos Saint Jeant Deux Ex Machina (50%, 4 Votes)
  • 2003 Clos des Papes (25%, 2 Votes)
  • 2003 Clos Saint Jean Combe des Fous (25%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 8

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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 December Installment of Pick My Next Bottle.

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