This was going to be the vintage of Mistral that went into the 2nd Optimor Wine Club case, but the lads ended up with <6 left, so we had to go for the 2005 instead. But I thought I’d test the 2003 myself anyway. I’m glad I did. Overall, a good – particularly ‘for sippin’’ – wine. Mid-depth black-cherry hue, with a youthful, narrow, purple-garnet rim. On the nose, vibrant red fruit – a little stewed – leaps out of the glass, with (nice) Brett notes giving animally dimensions to chocolate and black pepper spice (which gets ever-stronger on standing – striking pepper). Damson fruit, but with a lifted (eucalyptus??) note too. Really intriguing, changing nose. Full, slightly sweet, chocolatey, ripe-fruit palate. Somewhat alcoholic finish detracts a touch from a voluptuous texture, and medium-to-long palate of black cherry fruit. Some acidity lends freshness, that carries this away from being ‘overblown’. Vanilla and ?liquorice? finish (with that alcoholic warmth). Gets better again over 1-2 days!