2003 Le Vieux Donjon Châteauneuf-du-Pape- France, Rhône, Southern Rhône, Châteauneuf-du-Pape (9/2/2013)
Hot, stewed fruit. Some herbs as well, but it is dominated by fatally overripe fruit and alcohol. There’s no VA, so that’s something. (75 pts.)
NOSE: gorgeous CdP funk - no brett; smells like a good piece of lamb; fruits are there, but not at the forefront.
BODY: rustic mahogany color of medium-light depth; medium bodied – is this really an ‘03?!?
TASTE: earthy; muted fruits; spicy; a bit smoky/underbrushy; extremely surprised at the elegance coming from a CdP from such a hot vintage - this is a light-weight CdP; 14%; our table was divided on the ageability of this wine: I say drink soon, most everyone else says hold. I don’t see this wine having the stuffing to show very well much further down the line, but who knows … maybe that damned Grenache is merely in hiding right now, like it so often does. This is a wine I would be very curious to re-visit in 5 years or so.
Le Vieux Donjon is my favorite producer of CdP and I’ve consistently been pleased with this wine. While I’ve experienced a few relatively good bottles of the '03, most have been the same as you described. Climate certainly played a huge factor that year so I prefer to avoid that vintage altogether.
I remember this wine having the harshest tannins I’ve just about ever experienced in a young wine (in addition to the roasted, abv problems). I happily passed on this and practically the entire vintage in the rhone.
There are 03 CdPs I have liked, for what they are. This has never been one of them. People claim there are bottlings without the roasted flavors, but I haven’t had one. I don’t know whether this is the first year I felt the Cambie touch or the last year of the prior regime just blown by the vintage (I have the same problem with Clos des Papes, which I also stopped liking since 03, but at first considered 03 to be an anomaly). Either way, this wasn’t much on release and hasn’t gotten any better.
In the context of what the vintage is, I’ve liked Pegau, Charvin, Marcoux’s regular cuvee, Milliere. None of these will turn people around who do not like the vintage. They are still more candied and forward than the normal wines from these domaines. I wouldn’t hunt them out. But I am a fan of the domaines and I like what they did with the vintage.
Based on my experience, the 03 CDPs all have very ripe nose with cherry liquor and fruit cake with a hint of bitter finish. Some tasters strongly dislike the expression where others are not too bothered by it. IMO, matter of an individual preference not unlike GM in the 04 red burgundy.
I believe that I read somewhere that '03 CdP is even better with sushi than '07. From magnum, of course.
I agree with those who dislike 2003 CdP. I spent much of July and August of '03 in southern France and northern/central Italy. At that time, I decided that if the heat was sufficient to kill thousands of people, it probably wasn’t too great for grapes, either. I have had no reason since to regret my decision to avoid the vintage in France and southern Europe.
I love Charvin & Pegau and use to buy Marcoux. I own the '03 Pegau. I have had about 6 btls since release. Had one on release and thought it was worthy of a 3 btl purchase. Since then, the remainder have been devistatingly horrific marked by the worst symptoms of the vintage. I plan to trade off/sell my remaining bottles at some point. I own sufficient Charvin from '00/'01/'04 that I decided to pass. I gave up on Marcoux when the regular cuvee attained the $50+ price point. The only other '03 CdP I bought was Les Cailloux (Brunel). I have had mixed bottles of both good and bad. CT tells me I have one bottle left which I will dispatch within the year. No experience with Milliere (Kermit?).
It’s a funny thing about Marcoux’s price. At least through the 09, if you wait and keep your eye open, you can usually find it for $40 or so. I won’t spend more than that for it. But I haven’t had to. I don’t understand it because it costs substantially more even at the domaine. I haven’t seen that price after 09, but who knows.