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2003 Château La Mission Haut-Brion

One of the younger 2003 Bordeaux tried in the last few months, this Graves neighbor of first-growth Chateau Haut-Brion, under the same ownership since 1983, might be one of the few 03s to keep the promise of long life expected when they were barrel-sampled and upon initial release. Tannins are still quite firm and drying. Acidity is present, too, enough to counter-balance the tannins; more time in the cellar will let everything settle down and knit together. The flavors open with blackcurrant and violets, moving next to licorice and eucalyptus, with bare hints of chocolate on the finish. The mix might have a bit of Cabernet Franc, as there is also an undercurrent of tobacco leaf in the initial attack. Finish lingers for well over thirty seconds. Drink with Black Truffle Tenderloin Steak Tartare at Bern's Steak House. Ask for Owen as a server, and tell him we sent you.
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2003 Jeriko Estate Syrah – Mendocino, California

This under $30 Syrah was probably not intended to sleep in the cellar until 2010, but it awakened with surprising maturity and complexity. A wine described as "lavishly oaked" two or three years ago is now balanced, aromatic, and flat-out savory. Olives, hickory smoked bacon, black pepper, and sage are all lightly brushed with soy sauce for a savory northern Rhone doppelganger.
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2003 Château Cambon La Pelouse – Haut-Médoc, France

Like several for the moderately-priced bottles of '03 Bordeaux I have opened recently, this is coming to life, perhaps even peaking now. A year ago it was dead, but now it is showing a pleasant balance of fruit, blackberry and some raspberry, and more aged flavors of violets and cigar box. Tannins are soft and smooth. This has matured into a very pleasant bottle of wine at a bargain price, drinking at its peak right now. Highly recommended as a bargain introduction to a great year for Bordeaux.
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2003 Fra Guerau – Montsant, Spain

Clear, medium garnet color with fading rim. Aromas of black cherry, strawberry, raspberry, smoke, spice, and soft vegetal. Full body, dry, medium acid, medium-high tannin, black cherry, raspberry, fleshy black fruit, with a long, soft finish.
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2003 Bodegas El Nido Clio – Jumilla, Spain

Deep garnet red to a faded mahogany rim. Clean, full aromas of dried fruit, jams, licorice, blackberry, spice, oak, caramel, Port, cinnamon, cherry, and raspberry. Dry, medium-full body, medium acidity, medium-high tannin, flavors of coffee, cherry, spice, oak, raspberry, plum; a long smooth finish. The flavors are definitely at a peak, and I recommend finding a more recent vintage to really appreciate this wine at its best. For more wine notes and writing, visit Ryan’s blog oe•no•phile.