Wine Spectator Insider

FIRST LOOK AT OUR EDITORS' MOST EXCITING NEW WINES

The vineyards of Burgundy did not escape the heat wave that scorched France in August 2003, and the extraordinary ripe Pinot Noir crops were harvested earlier than they had been in over a century. The resulting wines, concentrated by low yields, are ripe and opulent, with dense, rich tannins compensating for the lower acidities. This edition of Wine Spectator Insider features reviews by Bruce Sanderson of 15 of these outstanding reds from the Côte d'Or-eight from Beaune to the south, seven from Nuits-St.-George to the north (the best of which you'll find designated as Hot Wines, on page 4). Prices for the '03s are higher than usual because the dollar was weak when these wines were being allocated, yields were down as much as 50 percent and case productions are limited.

Stateside, James Laube offers his notes on four reds from California and Harvey Steiman reviews six wines from Washington; both West Coast wine regions after distinctive Syrahs. And from the other side of the world, five New Zealand bottlings round out this edition's 30 selections.

Finally, for those still recovering from holiday spending, a few great wines appear here as well, led by a 91-point, $12 Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough and an 89-point Columbia Valley Syrah priced at just $14.

California

Stephan

L'Aventure Estate Cuvée Paso Robles 2003
91 Points | $80 | 1,000 cases made

Dense and concentrated, with great balance and depth to the dried currant, spice, anise and wild berry fruit. Excellent structure, too, with lively acidity and firm tannins joining a hint of cedar and tobacco. Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot. Drink now through 2012. - J.L.

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