The prodigious, fantastic 2003 Cos d?Estournel is a candidate for ?wine of the vintage.? A blend of 68% Cabernet Sauvignon (unusually high for this chateau), 30% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc, 17,500 cases were produced from low yields. An inky/blue/purple color is accompanied by a compelling perfume of black fruits, subtle smoke, pain grille, incense, and flowers. With extraordinary richness, full body, and remarkable freshness, elegance, and persistence, this is one of the finest wines ever made by this estate. The good news is that it will be drinkable at a young age yet evolve for three decades or more. Kudos to winemaker Jean-Guillaume Prats and owner Michel Reybier.
No tasting note was given.
The solidly made 2003 Leoville Las-Cases (13.2% alcohol) is a blend of 70.2% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17.2% Merlot, and 12.6% Cabernet Franc. In this incredibly hot vintage, the alcohol is slightly lower than achieved in 2002, a cool-climate year. While not a profound example of Las-Cases, the 2003 is muscular, deep, and full-bodied with an impressive ruby/purple color, a tight but juicy bouquet of vanilla, black cherries, crushed rocks, and flowers, a sweet attack, and moderately high tannin. Backward and fresh, displaying impeccable delineation and purity, it can be enjoyed between 2012-2023. 93+
Sporting an opaque, black-colored robe with dark purple trim, the 2003 Fonseca Vintage Port exhibits a nose of profound depth. Its sweet black mass of dark fruit and spice aromas leads to a character of immense depth, richness, and weight. Full-bodied, viscous, and almost impenetrable, this dense, backward port is powerful and exceptionally long in the finish. Possibly the most masculine Fonseca I?ve ever encountered, it coats the taster's palate with licorice, jammy black fruits, and notes of chocolate that last for over a minute. This blockbuster will require at least three decades to fully blossom. Anticipated maturity: 2035-2060.
Unfortunately there is only one new release from Dom Perignon this year. The 2003 is one of the most unusual Dom Perignons I have ever tasted, going back to 1952. Readers will remember that 2003 was a torrid vintage across northern Europe, especially during the critical month of August, when temperatures remained very hot for well over a month. The harvest was the earliest on record, until 2011, that is. I suppose its not that surprising Chef de Caves Richard Geoffroy chose to make a 2003 Dom Perignon, given his penchant for risk-taking, an approach that has yielded so many memorable wines that stretch the perception of what big brand Champagne is and can be. The 2003 Dom Perignon is a big, broad shouldered wine. It does not have the seductiveness of the 2000, nor the power of the 2002. It is instead very much its own wine. In 2003 Geoffroy elected to use more Pinot Noir than is typically the case, and that comes through in the wine’s breath and volume. The 2003 is a big, powerful Champagne that will require quite a bit of time to shed some of its baby fat. The trademark textural finesse is there, though. I expect the 2003 to be a highly divisive Champagne because of its extreme personality, but then again, many of the world’s legendary wines were made from vintages considered freakish at the time. The 2003 is an atypically, rich, powerful, vinous Dom Perignon loaded with fruit, structure and personality. It is not for the timid, but rather it is a wine for those who can be patient. No one has a crystal ball, but personally I will not be surprised if in 20 years’ time the 2003 is considered an iconic Champagne. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2038.
Score: 94+. —Antonio Galloni, November 2011.