The 2003 harvest began on September 15 and finished ten days later. The result is an outstanding 2003 Mouton-Rothschild, but it is not one of the superstars of Pauillac or the Northern Médoc. Its nearby neighbors, Lafite-Rothschild, Cos d'Estournel and Montrose, all produced wines that qualitatively dominate this effort from Mouton-Rothschild. Nevertheless, there is a lot to like. The tannins, which were so tough initially, have softened somewhat, and the nose offers up notes of cedarwood, roasted coffee, tobacco leaf and red and blackcurrants. This spicy, earthy, fleshy, medium to full-bodied 2003 is not one of the stars of the vintage. It is close to full maturity, where it should remain for another 10-15 years.
By no means the strongest of the first-growths in 2003, in fact, the 2003 Mouton is probably the weakest. The selection process that was implemented by new administrator Philippe Dhalluin a few years later had not yet gone into effect. The harvest took place between September 15-25, and the wine shows lots of opulent cassis, a hint of roasted coffee, and an evolved, fully mature style with light tannin in the finish. I wouldn't push my luck, although it is certainly capable of lasting another decade. There may be a tendency for the tannins to give the wine a more desiccated overall impression five or six years from now. Drink 2014-2024
The 2003 was surprisingly forward, even at age 11, which is unusually young for a Mouton to be strutting its stuff. This vintage may be maturing quickly, although there is no reason to believe it will not last 25-30 years.
Backward, powerful, and extremely tannic, the dense purple-colored 2003 Mouton-Rothschild, a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot, fashioned from yields of 28 hectoliters per hectare, with a finished alcohol of 12.9%, improves dramatically with aeration. With full-bodied, meaty, powerful, dry flavors as well as a huge finish, this high class wine should be at its finest between 2012-2040+. During its sojourn in barrel, it reminded me of a hypothetical blend of the 1982 and 1986 Moutons, but since bottling, it appears different, and even more tannic than those two vintages. I still believe the finest recent Mouton-Rothschild is the 2000.
This massive Mouton-Rothschild is a blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. A formidable black/purple to the rim, the wine offers up a tight but promising nose of scorched earth, creme de cassis, licorice, and charcoal notes followed by meaty, powerful, unctuous flavors that are huge, dense, tannic, and backward. Last year I thought it was somewhat similar to the 1982, and after nine months of barrel-aging, I have begun thinking of a hypothetical blend of both the 1982 and 1986. Incredibly different from the Lafite-Rothschild, which is so unctuous and plush, this is muscular, backward, and just humongous in size, a true giant from Pauillac. But prospective purchasers be forewarned - patience will be a virtue. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2050.
Made from low yields of 28 hectoliters per hectare, this profound blend of 76% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 8% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot possesses a finished pH of 3.8, alcohol of 12.9% (nearly identical to Lafite Rothschild in that sense), and 3.5 total acidity (much higher than the other first growths). The 2003 is similar in style to Mouton’s 1982, but softer and more pliable than that wine was at the same age. The Cabernet Sauvignon harvest began on the same day it did in both 1982 and 1947 ... an interesting coincidence. Black/purple-colored to the rim, with a gorgeous nose of espresso roast intermixed with classic Mouton creme de cassis liqueur-like notes, its powerful, unctuous flavors cascade over the palate revealing tremendous intensity as well as strong tannin. This enormously endowed 2003 is still sorting itself out, but it is unquestionably one of the greatest efforts of the vintage. If my instincts are correct, it is the ripest, most flamboyant Mouton-Rothschild since the 1982. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2035.
Comparing the Lafite-Rothschild and Latour with the Mouton-Rothschild, it is clear that it is lagging behind in terms of complexity and nuance, the growing season impinging upon the aromatics and dampening the fruit expression. The palate is medium-bodied with a supple, graphite tinged entry. It is nicely balanced but seems a little smudged towards the cedar-infused finish. This is a decent Mouton, though I prefer Latour and Lafite-Rothschild in this year.
This is the best showing for Mouton ’03, although I wonder whether I was seduced by its ostentation? It has an exotic bouquet with aromas of mulberry, briary, dried blood and cooked meats, fine delineation. The palate is medium-bodied with fine tannins, suppler red-berried earthy fruit, minerals, very harmonious and focused with a feminine, supremely well-focused finish that caresses and seduces the senses.
This is such an enjoyable Mouton: not profound, but then again not everything can possibly be! A superb nose, typically ostentatious with blackberry, ripe black olives, cedar and a touch of tinned prune. The palate is nowhere near as regal as Latour or Lafite and not quite as delineated and poised as Pichon-Baron '03. But it does have layer upon layer of saturated ripe black cherries and cassis towards the almost hedonistic finish. A bit dumb - but sexy. Tasted April 2008.
Blackberry, cherry and currant with just a hint of toasted oak. Full-bodied, with silky tannins and a lovely combination of ripe fruit and vanilla character. Goes on and on. Long and very stylish. Balanced and refined. Best after 2011. 23,330 cases made.
Full-bodied with a big core of ripe fruit and super-ripe tannins. Thick and powerful. Chewy. Tannins come out of hiding and lash out on the finish.
Dark crimson. Rich and haunting and lovely and complete with both lift and depth. Exciting. Reverberant. (Average group score: 18.4)
Vibrant dark crimson. Sweet and rich on the nose – even a hint of Opus One! Mouthfilling and ripe with well managed tannins. Quite marked acidity as well as the ripeness. But even despite these ripe, sweet aromas there is no real weight on the mid palate compared with the forcefulness of the tannins. Fades rather fast. Not masterfully convincing as a first growth. A bit stolid.
2003 Mouton placed second overall, out of 100 wines tasted blind, at the 2003 Farr Vintners Blind Tasting held in October 2010.
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