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2003 Domaine Bouchard Pere et Fils Vigne De L'Enfant Jesus
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- ABV 13.5%
- Closure: Cork
Producer note: Philippe Prost, Bouchard's winemaker, reports that they began harvesting on 'August 21st. We have historically always picked early because we believe in the importance of acidity. However, nothing could have prepared us to believe that we would be picking in August. We were fully 3 weeks in advance of the normal vegetative cycle. The heat was unbelievable; in fact, one of my vineyard managers put a thermometer at the base of a vine shortly before harvest time and recorded a temperature of 55° C(131° F)! The stems were extremely ripe and if you dissected a berry, you could crack the seeds between your fingers. A careful and thorough triage was important to eliminate wilted and dried berries to avoid that roasted flavor. After all was said and done, we were down fully 50% compared to a normal harvest though there were some sectors that were even harder hit. Sugars were good at between 13.5 and 14% and although total acidities were on the low side, the pHs turned out pretty well at around 3.5. I would say that we corrected only about 15% of our reds and all of those were in the Côte de Beaune. In terms of vinification, our goal was to minimize extraction techniques and let the musts work naturally. We did no cold macerating at all and simply dropped the temperatures to 14° C and let the fermentations proceed as they liked. There was a bit of punching down but all of it before the fermentations began.' In terms of style, both Prost and Bernard Hervet, who is the general manager of Bouchard, emphasized that a vintage like 2003 comes along only once every 50 years or so, invoking vintage comparisons with such hot vintages as 1959, 1947, 1928, 1921, 1906, 1893 and 1865, noting that 'we're extremely happy with our reds and believe they will age for decades, much in the way the wines from all of the vintages we noted have. The wines are superbly well concentrated and have the ripe tannins that will see them through for years.' Hervet and Prost are not just talking through their hats as the Bouchard '03s are, for the most part, extremely impressive wines and well worth a good look.
Tasting note: This is consistently one of Bouchard's finest wines irrespective of vintage or appellation and so it is again. A ripe and wonderfully complex nose combining earth, red and black cherry fruit and hints of game merge into impressively concentrated, rich and sweet flavors that are clearly built to age supported by a firmly tannic spine and a sappy, mouth coating finish. I very much like this and it will rival both the '99 and '02.
Score: 91 Drink: 2013+
Allen Meadows - Burghound
Tasted: Apr 01, 2005