2003 Sauternes

There was a lot of concern regarding the 2003 vintage of Sauternes? Even though comparisons to 1990 were made, and Parker judged many to be excellent, there were many who thought that the lack of acidity would result in flabby, unbalanced wines. I’ve had Rieussec, Suduirault, and LaTour Blanche recently and found all to be flat out delicious. Has anyone else had any 2003’s recently, and if so, what did you think?

I’ve had all three. The La Tour Blanche got a lot of hype when it was first released, but I was too young to try it then. I tried it recently and thought it was good but maybe in an awkward stage and a little less unctuous than reported. The Rieussec and Suduiraut are both good wines (Rieussec>Suduiraut) but neither is stellar. I’ve had poorer experiences with other chateaux, for example Raymond Lafon was just too thick and lacking acidity.

Overall I’ve found the 2003s good now and enjoyable, but not stellar and I’m uncertain about how they will age. (Although sauternes always age fairly well, so it may still turn out to be a nice wine.) Given that the best ones are the same price as the 05, I would choose that instead as a better wine (Rieussec, Suduiraut in particular). The clear standouts in 03 are Yquem and Fargues… both are stellar and the Fargues is surprisingly cheap (~50% of the chateau in other vintages). If you haven’t tried a half of the Fargues, track it down.

IMO a better vintage than the 05’s.

Mine that I’ve sampled have been disappointing. Just not as interesting as other young sauternes I’ve had. The Yquem was the best of the bunch; head and shoulders about anything else I’ve tasted but still not particularly amazing. These are probably in a place (adolescence) that doesn’t show them particularly well, so take my experience with a grain of salt.

LTB was extremely flashy and opulent when it was a baby. Today it has settled down some and become a solid go to wine. Suduiraut and Rieuseec are also pretty decent. d’Yquem is the best of the bunch. The rest are starting to become cloying IMHO. I prefer 05 to 03 in most cases, they do have some greenish herbal qualities but I think with 8-10 more years that will become just another interesting nuance. 01 still seems to be the recent vintage to beat, but that is just one dork’s opinion.

Climens is the only one I kept, sold the rest that I had bought. For me, no comparison between 2003 and 2005, 05 is far superior for overall balance.

I quite like the lucious, opulent style of 2003 Sauternes and do not play off vintages wholesale one against the other :slight_smile:.

I have been privileged to do a vertical tasting of the past 5 or 6 vintages of Yquem on two occasions in the past 3 yeears. The first time, I remarked how much I liked the 2003, finding it equal - in its own way - to the more politically correct 2001. The cellarmaster, Sandrine Garbay, disagreed.
However, strange to say, when I went there earlier this year (we didn’t go back as far as 2001 this time), Sandine said how delighted she was with the wine and its superb development, better than she had originally expected.

Best regards,
Alex R.

If you’ve tasted recent vintages of Yquem, can you comment on any style shift in the 2005 and after vintages?

I’ve only drunk and presently own the Suduiraut, and from tasting that wine it seems perfectly normal (given the growing conditions) and a really good wine. But what bothers me about this wine and the others I’ve looked at in the bottle is the color. They all are abnormally dark for wines of their age. The Suduiraut was much darker when I bought it on release than some of the top Sauternes from the late 1980s. That leads me to think that these won’t be long lasting wines.

Drunk coutet, clos haut peyraguey, tour blanche, doisy and climens
Apart from Climens which was wonderful, other wines were pretty heavy and lacked of freshness. I don’t really like this vintage.

I’ve noticed quite a few 2003 whites (sweet and dry) with darker hues than normal and always took it to be a characteristic of the vintage. There are certainly some unusual wines and not all in a bad way.

The 2003 Coutet [Barsac] continues to drink very well over 3 nights. Despite the low acid, honeyed feel presented initially, along with the concerns about aging, it has blossomed. There are creme brulee / caramelized brown sugar notes, also tropical fruit like pineapple and lychee, and then apricot / marmalade. Just a beautiful Barsac that isn’t fading at all. Solid A on my scorecard.

I hope commenters on this long dormant thread laid down a few of these fleshy golden treasures!


Not an expert, but I’m a Sauternes fan and can speak to some recent bottles.

Last week I had a 2003 Doisy-Vedrines as a glass pour in Dauphine’s in Washington DC. It was a darker color than I expected (have seen 1990s that were lighter) but it was good to go. Not something I would age further but a vintage/bottle for drinking now.

Also had a few 2003 Guirauds in the last few years and for my tastes I would are also drink up instead of aging further. Although for Guiraud, I prefer the recent 2009 and especially the 2011.

The good thing about Sauternes is it is criminally underpriced for aged bottles, so you can probably pick up a few 2003s and determine for yourself :grin:.


Sauternes is like Port, also severely undervalued. With Sauternes, you can buy a lot of well stored, great wines from the 1980s for comparatively nothing. I’m inclined to put my Sauternes money into the 1980s and 1990s vintages and let someone else bare the carrying cost of ageing the 2000s for me to buy in another 10 years.


2011 is a great wine! Totally agree!

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By chance I looked at this thread while sipping on a Repoured 2003 Suduiraut and eating Lucie’s apple tart after lunch. This is a beautiful wine when used the right way; it is lush, sweet, long lasting, and with nice overtones of cinnamon and limestone. By itself the other night I found it flabby.

2003 Rieussec has evolved from an over-the-top trockenbeerenauslese profile to being more like itself, but without the depth of e.g. 2001 Rieussec. It is very good now, but I preferred it its wild youth.