A VERY EARLY SPRING, DROUGHT, AN EXCEPTIONALLY HOT SUMMER
The 2003 vintage will go down in the annals of Burgundy’s wine-growing history for its exceptional climatic conditions with harvests earlier than at any time since the early 19th century.
EXCEPTIONALLY EARLY GROWING SEASON:
The growing season began very early, with temperatures above the seasonal average from March onward. However, hard frosts during April considerably reduced the production potential in certain plots, among them those under the Puligny Montrachet village appellation. The vines began flowering on May 19th, in the Vosne Romanée plots, and were in full flower by May 28th. From the end of May on, Burgundy enjoyed very hot, dry, sunny weather which continued until the harvesting was over.
EXCEPTIONALLY HOT WEATHER IN AUGUST:
Historic! Between August 4th and 14th the maximum temperatures at Vosne Romanée, were over 40°C, reaching as high as 43°C on the 13th. As a result the sugar content of the grapes rose in a spectacular fashion.
The chart shows exceptional temperatures well above average between March and September 2003. We have taken 2001 as the reference year, as the temperatures were in line with the normal temperatures experienced within the département.
The temperatures on the chart were taken at Vosne Romanée, with thermometers placed directly in vines, 40 cm above ground level, namely at the height of the grapes. Temperatures as high this as this were last recorded in 1893.
From February to August, rainfall was less than 40 mm per month, which accentuated the concentration of the grapes in record time. Luckily, the vines did not suffer too much from the drought, in some cases hardly at all, and demonstrated their ability to weather extreme climatic conditions. The consequence was the smallest harvest for more than 10 years.
EXCEPTIONALLY EARLY HARVESTS:
With a growing cycle of only 84 days at Vosne Romanée (compared to the average 100 days between the date of flowering and the date when harvesting begins) and the unusual climatic conditions in August, permission to start harvesting was granted several weeks earlier than in previous years. In the Côte D’Or, harvesting began on August 19th 2003. The last time the harvest began so early was on August 4th 1822. At the Domaine, our team began work on August 28th, at the Beaune 1er Cru plot “Les Avaux”, followed by Savigny Les Beaune Village and the “Les Narbantons” 1er Cru on the 29th and then Les Echezeaux and Echezeaux “Vieilles Vignes” on the 30th. On August 31st it was the turn of the Richebourg Grand Cru and the Premier Cru “Les Petits Monts” plots at Vosne Romanée. On 1st September we harvested the grapes at Nuits St Georges, “Les Plateaux” which comes under the Village appellation and the Premier Cru “Les Boudots”. We then returned to Vosne Romanée, where we harvested the Premier Cru “Les Suchots” followed by the “Clos de Vougeot” Grand Cru plots. The grape-picking took only 7 days, as we had purposely assembled a large team.
2003 will be remembered as the year par excellence of the “vigneron” and the “wine-maker”, a year in which the Pinot Noir grape displayed all its virtues at their very best. The maturity of the grapes not only depended on the high sugar content susceptible of being transformed into alcohol, but also on the phenol content. This is contributed by the pips and the skins - important factors in the structure and complexity of the wine, and it, too, reached a high degree of maturity.
The wines are deep and rich in colour, with sparkling gleams of light. Aromas of red and dark fruits, including blueberries, blackcurrants, blackberries and black cherries, enlivened with spicy notes, afford concentration and complexity. In the mouth, the wines are dense and rich, with tannins that are sustained, round and mature, owing to the thick skins and the small quantity of juice contained in the grapes. Their structure is firm and well-balanced, and there is sufficient acidity to provide a rich, generous body; excellent for laying down, with unrivalled promise. We shall be very happy to share with you this rare and exceptional vintage, which is said to resemble that of 1947.