We are now 20 years post the unique 2003 German vintage. 2003 was an extremely hot vintage in Germany and produced some amazingly ripe wine (abnormally so). With the ripeness came aromatics that set these wines apart when they were young.. Almost everything in 2003 was declassified so if you were looking for a true Kabinett from this vintage you will be hard pressed to find one as they tasted more like a Spatlese and so on. Some producers I talked to when these wines were released thought that 2003 might even surpass 2001 as the best vintage since 1949. I still prefer 2001.
The primary concern during the Summer of 2003 was that the wines would lack acidity. As a result, estates were allowed to acidify their wines. In their youth, acidity was not a problem. In the handful of wines that I tried recently, the acidity was lower but it did not appear to be to much lower than what you might expect from 20 year old German Riesling. Fine minerality and pure fruit notes are the rule for this vintage.
Lastly, speculation upon release was that these wines would not age well because of the lower acids. Although my impression is that these wines were better in the 10-15 year range, the half dozen wines I've had recently all seem to have aged well with the exception of the Zilliken.
Here are my recent notes on some 2003 Germans:
2003 Zilliken (Forstmeister Geltz) Saarburger Rausch Riesling Spätlese
Fourth and last bottle of this. The Saar did especially well in the 2003 vintage in my opinion. but this bottle did not live up to expectations. Moderately sweet. Notes of apples and kiwi. The acidity was lower than previous bottles. This was better when younger. 87 points.
2003 Wegeler Bernkasteler Doctor Riesling Spätlese
Last bottle. Bright gold color. Sweeter than expected but loaded with tropical notes primarily pineapple and apricots. Very enjoyable with the veal bratwurst and pierogies we prepared. As good as this was, it was better shortly after release. Drink now. 91 points.
2003 Weingut Josef Leitz Rüdesheimer Berg Roseneck Riesling Spätlese
I had this wine upon release, at 10 years old and now at 20 years old. I have 1 more bottle which I plan on trying in 2028. The cork came out in 2 pieces. Light gold color. This had a fruity nose. The acidity in this wine has settled a little. On the palate this was rather tropical. 91 points.
2003 Weingut Robert Weil Kiedricher Gräfenberg Riesling Spätlese
Opened at dinner. 5th time I have had this wine going back to 2004. This is a serious wine picked at 107 Oeschle. 2003 was a very ripe year in Germany. Light golden color. Petrol aromas. I think this has added a good amount of depth over the years. An off dry wine with rich tropical notes. Fuller bodied with a lush finish. Beautiful. My last bottle. 95 points.
2003 Müller-Catoir Haardter Herrenletten Riesling Spätlese
6th time I have had this wine and it has never disappointed. Terry Theise gave it his highest rating of +++. We paired this with some Burmese takeout. Still a light pale yellow color. An aromatic wine with hibiscus and pear aromas. On the palate there were notes of fine minerals, grapefruit, tangerine and tropical nuances. Still has solid acidity holding everything together with moderate sweetness on the finish. I have 1 more bottle which I will hold for a few more years. 93 points.
And one Red wine:
2003 Meyer-Näkel Neuenahrer Sonnenberg Spätburgunder
Decanted 2 hours before drinking. Fifth time I have had this wine going back to 2007. Not labelled as such back in 2003 but this wine is now a Grosses Gewachs. Very light sediment. Garnet color. An earthy and very typical nose fora wine from the Ahr Valley. A little old world funk upfront. Soft tannins. Notes of rich red fruit, sweet cherries, iron and burnt tobacco. Smooth and long finish. 92 points.