TN: 2003 Lascombes, Pavie, Leoville Barton

This was a blind tasting - 3 tasters - inspired by the modern vs trad thread.

Interestingly the color was all about the same on all three - darkish garnet with a hint of brown on all three - not much difference.

Wine 1: Green pepper dominates the nose. A bit flat on the palate but some dark fruits. Tannins resolved but a bit short on the finish. Overall just a bit bland although distinctly Bordeaux.

Wine 2: Not much to smell here - a little funky but that blew off. A bit more dark fruits on the palate and much more mouthfeel - a little plum and good tannin with a real strong sour cherry finish. Lingers.

Wine 3: Great bouquet of dark fruits that follows through on the palate. Ripe tannin that lingers.

Uniform Consensus:

3 WOTN by far.

1 a decent drinker but nothing special.

2 needs food. (last place)

And the winner is Leoville Barton (wine 3) by a large margin. If I had to give it a number 95+. Really outstanding. The Lascombes (1) and Pavie (2) - Meh.

I looked at my notes on the Lascombes from 17 years ago and noted it was green then - honestly the green pepper on the nose was overwhelming - I guess I am happy that I am consistent. Thankfully no more bottles of this one - I only purchased 2. Shortly after release my only other note found it was kind of a “hot mess” - pun intended given the vintage but overall just disjointed with an alcoholic finish. This wine on the other hand probably was much better than that initial bottle and was quite drinkable and enjoyable - just nothing special.

The Pavie is a bit of a disappointment - I enjoyed this wine much more 12 years ago when I last had it. If anything it seemed like it was falling apart and age was not treating it well. Just a bit jammy still which may be consistent with the heat of that year.

The LB was singing - still has some gas in the tank - I am not sure holding will make it much better - different perhaps with more tertiary notes in the future but It is in a really in a nice spot now.

So to address the larger subject - modern vs. traditional - for me this data point makes me think that some wines truly are “vin de garde” and perhaps others not so much. Pavie certainly has the reputation of being a modern wine - Rolland is the consultant - there was a change in wine making around the turn of the millennium and the wine has rated well by most Pundits. Moreover, even the French believe in it with it being elevated to a Grand Cru Classe A in 2012. I admit I liked this wine a decade ago but was very underwhelmed with it yesterday. Obviously just one data point - but it does make me think that perhaps these wines should be consumed young - nothing wrong with that unless you only like really aged Bordeaux in which case no reason to buy at all.


I love that 2003 Barton.

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Very cool setup. I LOVE blind taste tests, especially with a theme like old vs modern. This was a very fun read. Thanks for sharing.


Retasted them tonight - notes were consistent although the Lascombes had a bit less green pepper and a bit more oak. The LB still had the best fruit by far and was the best wine. It was an interesting comparison. The '03 LB is a great wine for sure - granted it has the reputation for taking time - 20 years seems like a decent amount! (purchased right at 18 years ago). I think I need to get a couple of bottles of the Pavie from more recent vintages.

For those of you weren’t around or have forgotten it, Pavie ‘03 resulted in a major spat between Jancis and Parker. I have tasted it once since Primeur, with similar notes to the original one, so good to get a current update. For those who know my palate, it will not be surprising to know that I really disliked the wine.

Completely agree, David. We don’t have a lot of 2003’s but Leoville Barton is one that we do have and we have enjoyed it every time we have opened one.

Thanks for the article - there are some others on this issue. JR gave it 12/20 - called it port like and ridiculous. It still is a little Jammy but hardly reminds me of port. This particular bottle just seemed a bit out of sorts - nose was nonexistent to a bit funky which blew off. Certainly a decent bottle of wine with some solid fruit and nice tannin but I don’t think I would confuse it for anything new world at least at this point. I didn’t pick up any TCA which I usually am sensitive to. Have to put it in a blind tasting with some New world wines to see if it really blends in well or stands out.

The finish on the LB was absolutely wonderful - mouth puckering ripe tannin - not quite like a California wine but really offering the best of Bordeaux.

Had a dinner recently with a whole lineup of 2003s and replicated this experience - the Leoville Barton was excellent and the Pavie sucked.

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Thanks for the notes.

I bailed on many of my '03’s but do still have some L. Barton and also Poyferre. I am cautious on the later and found it a bite ripe in the past. Anyone have any recent experience with that one?

I also have ~6 left of Lafon Rochet, Sociando Mallet (have liked this one), Pontet Canet. Pichon Baron I have enjoyed as well but only have 1 left. Do have 2 Pavie and 4 Troplong - maybe I will put the Pavie in the pile to be sold and try the Troplong first.


I have had the PB and Pontet Canet recently and had similar positive experiences to the LB. In general I will continue to drink them up!

Love the 2003 Barton. Funny story. i was at a michelan star restaurant w a friend, looking at the wine list for something affordable. i was furiously checking ct reviews and read a stellar review of the 2003 LB. we ordered, it was great, and as I went back to make a quick TN I realized the review I read was my own…