Dark garnet with a firmly brick rim. Explosive nose of rich, decadent reduced berry, shockingly ripe and positively DRIPPING with dessert-like concentration. Almost Napa-like in macerated cherry, sweet oak, and–at this age of course–all the trimmings of classic tertiary. Candied soil and unctuous smooth vegetal bulk up the gravitas of the fruit, a MASSIVE wine hard to believe dominated by Merlot.
2003 was the “California Vintage”, no? Rated quite nicely, but the purists decried it as too ripe, too flabby, too showy, too *American* to be of any lasting value. I dunno… I’m from California–and have been accused MILLIONS of times of having a ‘California Palate’, but I love my austere, tight Bordeauxs. This is NOT one of those. There is tightness visible–and tasting it will tell all–but man oh man is this one pretty and lush.
In the mouth, clean steely flint, a bit of rust and carbon curling the edges. Immense berry blackness is lightened by dry austerity in the middle, raspy and sharp, the fruit so pure, so bright but almost stiflingly rich. There’s a bit of heat in the finish: a smooth peppery, cinnamon heat unlike the *heat* of 16-0 Lodi Zins and 15-5 Paso Rhones. I’m guessing 14-5–at least that is what I expect the label to say–although I truly believe it is higher. I can’t IMAGINE a Chateau putting anything higher than 14-5 on a Bordeaux label. Despite all my rantings about hi-alcohol, rich, concentrated jam-bombs, this thing is absolutely GORGEOUS, and I am shocked at the age. It presents itself with aplomb, muddles the fruit with typicity and minerality, and finishes with giant delicate tannins meticulously matched like cream in coffee. It’s beautiful wine.
2003 CHATEAU DE CANDALE ME/CF 80/20 St. Emilion Grand Cru Bordeaux France 15.0 <holy shit yes you read that right