Tonight’s Occasion: 2003 Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Pauillac, Bordeaux, France
Brown-Burgundy color. Out of the bottle, nose is shy with a soft gentle expression. A dry old leather permeates the stage. Supple dark plum slowly turns ripe as it breathes. A plush caramel emerges. Hints of white pepper. Old leather develops a sedimentary, silty characteristic. As it breathes that silty terroir moves to the forefront, along with a touch of slightly woody, slightly sweet star anise.
Body is balanced from front to back. Clean crisp, highly delineated tannins greet the palate in the form of dark plum skins. They immediately form a firm clear continuous structure with a fine grained grit coating. This quickly dominates the palate. Restrained acidity broadens the palate as dry plums, dark cherries and old leather gently fill the stage creating a soft, mellow, ever lightening mouth feel. As the body stretches thin almost to the point of disappearing, the tannic structure holds firm, like steel girders. Eventually this is all that is left upon the palate. The restrained acidity trades places with a white pepper which itself transitions to a bold spice heat through the finish down into the chest. This old sage has a few good punches left in it. My lips are parched, chest warm, mind pondering this occasion.
This is a great Bordeaux. It’s had almost two decades to integrate very nicely. While clearly in its more advanced years, it’s expression is no less interesting, no less enjoyable, especially for the intermediate to advanced palate craving a solid, faithful Bordeaux. Chateau Mouton Rothschild is a highly coveted Bordeaux. As a result, I can’t help but feel like it is often misunderstood, over-aged, left to languish and slowly die in the cellar. The 2003 is a gentle, graceful vintage compared to the others I have opened. While past it’s peek expression (not by much), it is still no less a great Bordeaux and a treat to indulge. If you have any of this vintage on hand, you should drink it now!