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Tuscany Meets 2003 - Impact of a Hot Summer
Copyright 2005 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved. Originally printed Oct. 13, 2005. For more information go to

Let's merge two frequently discussed topics into one quick intro today as we take a look at a Tuscan red (this month's Wine Tasting 101 topic), with particular focus on another recurring issue, the impact of the fiery summer of 2003 on the wines of Europe.

As I taste my way through more and more 2003s, I'm becoming more and more persuaded that the wines from farther north in Europe - where hot weather is the exception, not the rule - tend to be bizarrely atypical, in a fat, fruit-forward style that some of the critics admire but that I do not.

From farther south, though, from the Southern Rhone into Italy, where producers know from experience how to deal with heat, the effects of '03 are more subtle. Big wines get bigger. Tannic wines get more tannic. I've tasted a few, including a recently reported '03 Dolcetto, that very much rang my chimes. A Chianti (from Colli Senesi, one of seven designated Chianti sub-regions) is ripe and mouth-filling, with plenty of acidity, and that's the formula for a winner, even though an unusual excess of tannic astringency is less than typical. Like most of the '03s, it's offbeat...but not far enough off the beaten path to make me crabby about it.


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