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Showing posts from September, 2013

A ten-year-old Chateauneuf-du-Pape

To say that 2003 was a hot vintage in France is something of an understatement. It was the year of the heatwave, the summer that, when I holidayed with my grandmother in France, was so hot we had to lift her into the pool to keep her cool. Days were 43 degrees; night temperatures were not much lower.

When the wines were released, there was much hype but, realistically, only a handful have made it to ten years. Most producers have long advised that their wines be drunk up and my Brussets, for example, are long gone (with every bottle enjoyed, it must be said). Most Chateauneufs will not be at their best now either.

Why is this? Quite simply, the summer was too intense. Instead of the normal 100 days between flowering and harvesting, only 70 were needed to ripen the fruit. However, the tannins lagged behind and acidities were low (although alcohol was, inevitably high) so, whereas in their youth the wines were fully flavoured with plenty of ripe fruits, the structural elements were all …