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Undeniably, Talbot is one of the most famous Médoc wines. This fine reputation is no doubt due to a mysterious combination of factors, such as the size of its vineyard, nearly one hundred hectares, and the regularity of its wine. Nearly a century in the same family, the name Talbot is concise and hard-hitting, easy to pronounce in all languages and a part of our history… However, the first thing that makes Talbot popular is the wonderful nature of its wine.
‘For many, Talbot embodies the ideal Saint Julien, a generous bouquet, extremely stable and dependable during aging,’ emphasize Bettane and Desseauve in their Guide to French Wines.
It’s true. A champion of longevity, even when young Talbot is pleasant and rounded, ever distinguished by silky, mild and very civilized tannins. Talbot possesses an extraverted nature. It’s never withdrawn into itself, and has the courtesy of being in a good mood every day. It’s a racy wine, with complex marks of Havana and licorice, classically delicious without ever the slightest hint of austerity.
Legend relates that the name of this imposing estate originates with Connétable Talbot, a famous English warrior, defeated at the battle of Castillon 1453. Talbot is one of the Medoc’s oldest estates, its glory never tainted. Through the years it has been fortunate enough to remain in good hands. The owners are Nancy Bignon- Cordier and her family. They are the fourth generation of Cordiers to manage this Saint-Julien fourth classified growth.
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.