The distinctive bottle shape of Beaujolais wine is striking. Moulded into a kind of long and pointy bowling pin or one of those clubs that jugglers at the circus toss around, you might only see these wines on the shelves in your store that come with extra headroom. Once you have located that shelf, you might want to investigate these unique bottles even further. A label shaped like a ribbon drapes around the neck of some vintages, reading: "Le millésime du soleil," or 2003: The Year of the Sun. Duboeuf in particular has touted this pedigree on its wares. I quite like this. It's intriguing. It makes idyllic reference to the massive (and really quite horrific) heatwave that Europe suffered during the summer two years ago. To me, the tagline adds mystique and some allure. But I suppose that if all vintages could tag themselves with a mystical or grandiloquent claim to fame then things might escalate into an Aussie shouting match with a few punching kangaroos. And poor use of the idea might not fly: Take "2002 - Le millésime du déluge" (The Year of the Flood), for example. But if a winemaker was to promote a certain crop by conjuring up some appropriate historical or socio-cultural aspects, I'm sure I'd be the sucker who buys it.
And so I bought this. The Georges Duboeuf Régnié 2003 definitely makes a case for vintage taglines. Who doesn't feel like taking a trip back to the year of the sun right about now? After all, it's the winter solstice and darkest time of the year. I went for it and don't feel suckered one little bit. This is lusty and fruit-filled Beaujolais at its best. So get this vintage while you still can. The Gamay it's made from turns in a strong performance. It's not as light as you would think. I paired the wine with fairly bold dishes. Grilled pork chops with garlic, oregano and red onions, and then on the second night, a vegetable lasagne chock-full of roasted flavours. Great Beaujolais. But I contend the biggest revelation in drinking this wine was a general idea on decanting. This bottle makes for just one of the steady stream of 2003's from Europe I've been opening lately and as a result my inkling is turning into something more solid. I'm beginning to think that the rule for these 2003 vintages -- and by this I mean virtually any European red in 2003 -- is to thoroughly aerate your wine for maximum enjoyment. This is a year that definitely had lots cookin'. Don't be afraid to let it out of the bottle at length to best enjoy its full character.