About the Climate 2003
Budbreak: 01 April
Flowering: 27 June
Cluster thinning: 08 July
Veraison: Early July
Harvesting: 27 August
The weather this year was far from typical.
The 2003 vintage began with a winter divided in two weather-wise. Relatively warm weather from the beginning of October to early January was followed by an intensely cold, dry period from January to the end of February, when temperatures fell to minus 10°C for a long time. Extremely dry conditions began in February with a shortage of rainfall that lasted through to the end of September.
Renewal of growth
A warm, dry month of March stimulated the start of growth.
At the start of April, a cold snap stopped development and caused frost damage in all vineyards, affecting anything from a few buds to the entire plot. The end of April was very hot, leading to spectacular growth, such that development was a week in advance compared with a normal year.
This advance continued during the rest of the season, which was hot and dry for all of us, without causing the vines to struggle due to the lack of water. Grape development was equally spectacular; bunches ripened very quickly, taking the vine growers by surprise. I had originally planned to start picking on 06 September, changed it once to 03 September, then again to 01 and ultimately started on 27 August. The phenomenon that had contributed to this early harvest - thus invalidating the "100-day rule" - was due to sugar concentration by evaporation, resulting in grapes with a high sugar content and skins that were already slack. Added to this, there was a rapid drop in acidity levels. In these very hot conditions, there was a danger of rapid decline in the event of a storm or of prolonged bad weather.
Picking lasted only five days, which confirmed my predictions of a small harvest. Because the heat continued during picking, we hired a refrigerated truck to allow us to bring in the grapes in the best possible condition.
Vinification of such an early-maturing year is a relatively delicate operation and this vintage will therefore be more of a "wine-makers' vintage" than others.
The wines are now in the cellar and confirming our small yields, which are roughly 40% below those authorised. This is a "hedonist's vintage"; it is extraordinarily fruity, has strong colour intensity and tannins that are currently very much in evidence, but which will mellow and become more refined during the maturing process.