Like with 1997, conditions came together to producer extra-ordinary results in 2003. The winter of 2002-2003 was cold and damp until the arrival of spring, which was dry and fairly early. Once again, a hard frost in early April affected the northern most vineyards and those at elevation, reducing yields by some 20%. Not long after, by the arrival of May, daily temperatures began routinely breaking records. The summer was the hottest of the century and among the driest. The reduced crop was left to struggle under the heat. With the limited supply of water restricted to the groundwater accumulated the previous winter, the berries were small. Rains arrived in early September and the remaining weeks of the growing season were fairly normal, with the harvest being the earliest since 1945. The summer season had, of course, already left an indelible imprint on the vintage. The fruit came in with very high sugars and low acids. The tannins were fairly ripe but due to the low juice to skin ratio, quite abundant. The flavors of many wines veer off well beyond the exotic and into the fried fruit end of the spectrum. Very few producers made truly great wines, but many producers made distinctive wines that are powerful and dense, if a little clumsy. The basic Chianti of many producers benefitted from the extra ripeness and power of the vintage. The wines have somewhat elevated alcohol levels that do not bode well for future ageing.
Vintages in Tuscany
An easy to use vintage by vintage guide