Robert Parker 93
Tasted blind as a vintage comparison at the Valandraud vertical, the 2003 Margaux is fully mature on the nose. There is ample fruit here, well defined for the vintage with blackberry and cedar, this bottle demonstrating a subtle fungal character that I have not discerned in previous bottles. There are faint scents of rust iron piping that develop with further aeration. The palate is medium-bodied with slightly dry tannin, offering more fruit than the 2003 Valandraud it was paired with: feisty black pepper and allspice finish with a decent aftertaste. There might be better bottles than this, even so, there is probably not another Margaux that touches this First Growth. I see no harm in broaching bottles now and over the next ten years. Tasted December 2016.
Anticipated maturity: 2017-2027
Mid to deep garnet. Inviting if atypical nose of dried fruit and exotic spice as well as leafy undergrowth. Touch of mocha still. Really has quite a richness to the fruit without being overripe. More generous than many on the mid palate. Tannins are pretty grippy though. (JH)
Anticipated maturity: 2012-2018
Full, saturated red-ruby. Knockout nose combines redcurrant, tropical chocolate, leather, woodsmoke and nutty oak with exotic chocolate mint and coffee liqueur; still manages to retain floral lift even in this beastly vintage. Then wonderfully fat, sweet and full, even if it comes across as almost heavy following the ineffable 2005 and 2004 examples. But "relatively inelegant" for Margaux still suggests a degree of refinement that few chateaux can match in the greatest vintages. A hugely rich and dense wine that finishes with elevated but ripe tannins and great length, with a subtle suggestion of dry spices. Pontallier says the terroir will take over in 20 years, "like with the ’82." Splendid.