In late 2002, the winter rains allowed water reserves in the soil and groundwater to establish and started the growing season off well. The months of March and April were sunny, the vegetation grew rapidly and bud-burst was first recorded on the 15th of March (15 days earlier than normal). The sunny weather continued through to May and the vegetation grew quickly and steadily.
Flowering was recorded around the 1st of June, which is early for the Merlot but slightly delayed for the Malbec and Tannat.
From the 9th of June to the 16th, the temperature exceeded 34°C and the first heat wave hit on the 21st and 22nd June where temperatures exceeded 40°C. At 6 am it was 26°C!
From July 10th to the 15th we saw our second heat wave and the daily temperatures sat between 35°C and 39°C. We had no rain during this period and by late July we saw the initial signs of vine water stress, leaf burn and the veraison was ahead by 3 weeks.
From the 2nd to the 13th of August the temperatures exceeded 38°C and peaked at 41°C. During this period, temperatures as high as 48°C were observed on the skins of the grapes and 55°C was recorded on the ground. 50% of the bunches were losing water and shrivelling on the vine and the leaves were beginning to fall from the vine. Although the drought continued to rage, the vines adapted and with less leaves, but also fewer bunches, the remaining grapes continued to mature normally.
Finally, a storm broke out on August 16 and 12 mm of water fell, reviving the vines and rehydrating the leaves and berries.
On the 19th, 23rd and 27th of August the thermometer again reached the high 30's meaning that 25 days of the summer reached temperatures above 35°C, instead of the usual 4-6 days.
From August 25th to September 23rd, a team went through the vineyard and dropped the dry and shrivelled bunches. Harvest began the 24th of September and continued through to the 30th of September.
We feared that the wines would lack acidity, but the balance is as exceptional as usual. In the area AOC Cahors, Chambert was one of the latest harvesting domaines.
The quality of 2003 is exceptional, but the yield was very low. Indeed, very little but concentrated juice was released from the berries. An average of 18 hl/hectare was harvested.
Quality of the Vintage