Wine Advocate tasting notes by @JebDunnuck
2003 Châteauneuf-du-Pape Barbe Rac
More chewy, rustic and concentrated than the Croix de Bois, the 2003 M. Chapoutier Chateauneuf du Pape Barbe Rac offers up meaty aromas of dried licorice, dusty earth, beef blood and cured meats. Taking the better part of the evening to open up, it gains in both sweetness and polish with air. On the palate, it is full-bodied, broad-shouldered and decidedly rich, with a core of concentrated fruit and still notable tannin adding grip through the finish. One of the younger 2003s at this stage, I still think it’s drinking at point and would aim for consuming bottles over the coming 5-7 years.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Croix du Bois
Coming from a single plot of 80-year-old vines and a blend of 100% tank-aged Grenache, the 2003 Croix de Bois is a ripe, exuberant, yet elegant Chateauneuf du Pape that oozes southern Rhone flair. While from a decidedly hot vintage, it shows nothing except pure, textbook Grenache aromas and flavors. Starting out tight and slightly reserved, it comes together with air and possesses an almost Rayas-like transparency, with knockout kirsch liqueur, sappy herbs, flowers, seaweed and licorice qualities all emerging from the glass. Still lively and energetic, with a core of sweet fruit, no hard edges and a silky, seamless texture, it is a beautiful, full-bodied 2003 that is at full maturity and drinking brilliantly. While I see no reason to hold off, it will continue to evolve gracefully for upwards of another decade.