2003 is an excellent Port vintage, albeit a small crop from extremely low yields, and resulting in rather severe allocations from the top properties.
The winter of 2002/3 was marked by heavy rains in the Douro, the moisture of which penetrated deep into the fractured schistous rocks and ensured the survival of the vines in the heady months of summer. After near perfect flowering conditions, the heat was only extreme in the first two weeks of August. Many of the vines went into a state of near shut-down at this point, preventing moisture loss, and ensuring synchronicity with the optimal ripening conditions of late August and September. A small amount of rain at the end of August, described by Charles Symington, as 'heaven sent', ensured that the grapes were in perfect condition for a harvest which started in the second week in September at Vargelas and was still being brought in the middle of October at Noval.
The ripeness of fruit seems reminiscent of the 94s, the tannic structure perhaps closer to the 97s. One most reassuring feature is the paucity of wines which are overblown, jammy or lacking in sufficient acidity.
All of the wines that we have purchased share an intense almost glowing colouring and powerful berry fruit aromas, allied to high levels of both sugar and acidity and firm, supporting tannins; they are, in short, benchmark vintage ports of the highest quality and will age every bit as well as their illustrious forebears.