A bit of a sleeper vintage, tucked in between the superb 2001, 2002, and 2004 vintages. It wasn’t the easiest of growing seasons, but nevertheless, there are some excellent wines in 2003. Significant rain during the spring kept growers guessing, as they tried to adjust their vineyard management programs to match the conditions, and shatter was a problem. A moderate July was followed by a mid-August period of rain, followed by uneven temperatures that had harvest alternately starting and then stopping as everyone watched the weather and the fruit. Careful canopy management was important, and reading the weather was key to making the right decisions. Overall, summer was below average in terms of temperatures. As the harvest approached, the weather warmed up and dried out, and those who had gotten the canopies and fruit loads right were able to ripen a slightly smaller crop of very good fruit.
The most successful made wines that have been somewhat under the radar, being in the shadow of the other great years surrounding the vintage, and they are worth seeking out as they are relative bargains due to the overall impression of the vintage.
About Havens Wine Cellars
Prior to selling his winery, Michael Havens made Merlot in a distinctly Bordeaux style, with a restrained sweetness and notes of lead pencil, minerals, game and tobacco leaf. He was also a pioneer of California Syrah in a distinctly northern Rhone style, typically showing notes of dark fruits, black pepper and gunflint. Alas, these sophisticated wines are now a thing of the past. In September 2009, Billington Imports, who purchased the winery in 2006, went under. All of Billington's assets, including Havens Wine Cellars, were auctioned off, but the brand continues to be made.