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Château Pape Clément's red wines are vinified in oak casks. This favors uniform fermentation, unlike steel vats which are prone to temperature variations. Maintained between 29 and 30°C during fermentation, then between 27 and 29°C during maceration after fermentation, moderate temperatures allow for gentle extraction of tannins and color. Before the wine is drawn off, fermentation varies between 20 and 35 days depending on the evolution of taste in each vat.Hand harvested in small crates with initial sorting in the vineyard. Grapes hand-picked from clusters. Aged for 18 months in new French-oak barrels.
2003 was the hottest vintage ever seen in Bordeaux. The most successful châteaux have passed their exceptional 2000s and some claim to have made their greatest wines in living memory.
Very dry and extremely hot summer days and nights (16 days > 95°F compared to 2 in 2000, 6 in 2005, 4 in 2009). Need to eliminate the superscript here. I can't figure out how to do it.) The deeply colored reds, low acidities and high tannins are a departure from the classic Left Bank profile. St.-Estèphe and Pauillac are the most successful. The reds have largely reached their peak. It remains a controversial vintage, with opinions sharply divided as to its intrinsic quality. The white grape harvest began in mid-August. Rich, fatty whites, some acidified, not for long storage.
The extreme summer heat presented winemakers with a significant challenge. Sugar levels increased dramatically in late summer as some growers took the plunge and harvested early to preserve acidity. However, winemakers who waited until their grapes were fully ripe were rewarded with rich, concentrated, dark-colored wines displaying astonishing depth of fruit and plenty of complexity.
Generally speaking, the great wines of 2003 come from the northernmost communes of the Médoc: and in particular from Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe. Highlights include Lafite, Latour, Pichon Baron, Montrose and Cos d’Estournel. Quality was more uneven in the south of the Médoc although Château Margaux, true to form, produced one of the wines of the vintage.
The right bank properties of St Emilion and Pomerol, where temperatures were even warmer, produced inconsistent wines and volumes were massively reduced. Vieux Château Certan, which usually produces 4,000 cases per year, only produced 800 last year. Estates that have resisted this model and produced exceptional wines include Figeac, Ausone, Fetyit Clinet and Angelus.
Graves and Pessac-Lèognan fared better, but many châteaux produced wines that were alcoholic and expansive, but lacked the fresh, linear fruit core that distinguished the best of 2003. The exceptions are Haut-Bailly, the powerful and concentrated Domaine de Chevalier, and of course the thoroughbred stable of wines from Haut-Brion and La Misson Haut-Brion.