I have often noted that great vintages often occur in 3s (which is a divine number). With a few minor exceptions, they are [1926, 1928 and 1929], [1947, 1948 and 1949], [1952, 1953 and 1955], [1959, 1961, and 1962], and [1988, 1989 and 1990]. Those of us who have had the privilege of tasting these wines would agree that they are, in fact, divine, but what about now. I would argue that 2003, 2004 and 2005 is just another example of a wine divinity.
The 2003 Bordeaux vintage was a headliner. France experienced a heat-wave during the growing season that rivaled 1947, 1953 and 1961. It was punctuated by an oven-hot August and one of the earliest harvests on record. Modern temperature controlled fermentation tanks and a severe selection process ensured that this would remain a profound, if not monumental, vintage. The huge cash infusion that the Bordeaux wine making establishment had enjoyed since the 1980s (often credited to Robert Parker) had paid off. The Bordelais had the equipment and the knowledge to master the most challenging harvest. Surprisingly, the wines do not suffer from low acidity. The wines originating from the left bank, however, frequently display super-ripe characteristics. As is always the case, Merlot suffers under torrid growing conditions. Thus, the right bank wines were less tannic and more forward, albeit less impressive than the wines from the left bank.
Then came the more subdued, quietly elegant, 2004 vintage. In spite of being over-shadowed by the 2003 and 2005 vintages, the red wines of 2004 display a more classic Bordeaux style (which I have longed for). The wines display good acidity and tannin and are covered by a blanket of fruit. Thus, the wines are exceptionally well balanced. As the result of standing next to it's big brothers 2003 and 2005, the wines will remain under-rated for most of their life-span, but may present some excellent values.
Lastly, who would argue that the 2005 vintage is one of the greatest vintages of all time. I have never tasted more profound, remarkably extracted/penetrating wines; nor have I seen consistently higher scores or higher futures prices. There are obvious differences from commune to commune, but, as a whole, these wines are exceptional. As we walked from chateau to chateau during the en premier, we were overtaken by the number of superlatives we heard. The best growing conditions, the most uneventful harvest, the highest alcohols, the highest polyphenols (tannin) were things we heard regularly. Paul Pontallier, winemaker at the famous Château Margaux turned to the IPT tannin index, as an example; in 2000 it was 70, in 2003 it was 73 and in 2005 it was 78. Just to put that in perspective, in 1982, it was between 62 and 63.
Ultimately, wine aficionados will make their selections based on personal preference. I enjoy wines with charm and elegance, but I can also appreciate the grace of well aged Bordeaux from a profound year. I have also benefited from owning cellar treasures that seem to accrue in value regardless of economic conditions. We recently received more than 350 cases of wine from the 2003, 2004 and 2005 vintages. They were purchased by us, en premier. We hope you will take advantage of this new offering and experience the divine nature of the 3.