Something about Opus One
The world-renowned Opus One was created in the 1970’s as a result of a merger between two visionaries, Baron Philippe de Rothschild (lengendary Bordeaux wine magnate and owner of Château Mouton-Rothschild in Pauillac) and Robert Mondavi (an icon in the history of American wine with a namesake wine empire in California). It was their aim to develop a New World equivalent to a Bordeaux First Growth in the Napa Valley region of California.
The exceptional style of Opus One resulted from the combination of their talent, their vision and the unique terroir of the Oakville AVA (an Eden for Cabernet Sauvignon). Today, this highly sought-after wine is produced from four different parcels, two parcels making up the famous 40-hectare To-Kalon vineyard, along with the River and Ballestra Parcels surrounding the Opus One winery. While the exact proportions depend on vintage, the blend is dominated by Cabernet Sauvignon, complemented by Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Malbec, reminiscent of Bordeaux’s Left Bank. The wines are vinified separately before being matured in French oak barrels for a period of 18 months. They stay in the cellar, ageing in bottle for another 15 months, before being released on the market in October of each new year.
Four years before his death in 2008, Robert Mondavi sold Robert Mondavi Winery to the Constellation Brands wine conglomerate, along with his 52% share in Opus One. The project, which also saw the addition of a new parcel known as To-Kalon South, is now jointly managed by the Rothschild family and Constellation brands.
In the world of fine wines, Opus One has no equal. Its emblematic blue label tells the story of the union between two visionaries, the merger of two dynasties to produce one iconic wine: a Bordeaux-style Grand Vin from the greatest terroirs of Napa.
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Composed of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Petit Verdot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot and 2% Malbec, Opus One's 2015 Proprietary Red Wine is truly an iron fist in a velvet glove, delivering a powerhouse of flavors and structure with a seductively plush texture. It opens with a deep garnet-purple color and wonderfully spicy notes of cinnamon stick, cloves and fenugreek with a core of cherry preserves, redcurrant jelly, blackberry pie and warm plums plus hints of camphor, lavender and cigar box. Full-bodied, rich and bold in the mouth, it fills the palate with exotic spice-laced black and red fruits, framed by firm, beautifully ripe, grainy tannins and great freshness, finishing with epic persistence. Although it is already approachable, allow it another 3-5 years in bottle for its myriad of subtle accents to fully blossom and then drink it over the next 30+ years.
The 2015 Opus One is just as fabulous from bottle as it was from barrel. Dark, sumptuous and voluptuous in the glass, with no hard edges, the 2015 captures all the essence of the vintage while retaining a good bit of aromatic freshness. At this stage, the new oak is still a bit prominent, but that should not be an issue as the wine ages. There is more than enough depth for the 2015 to develop positively for 20-25 years, perhaps more. Just bottled a month prior to this tasting, the 2015 is naturally a bit more reticent than it has been in the past. Winemaker Michael Silacci add that the 2015 will, in his view, follow a similar trajectory to the 2008, which he later opened for the sake of comparison. In my view, the 2015 will always be more extroverted, although it does need time to be at its most expressive. The blend is 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec.
1% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, 6% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec vinified separately but with an average of 21 days' maceration and 18 months ageing in new French oak. I think we can assume that Michael Silacci and his team were allowed to spare no expense. Very warm, dry year, the warmest since 2008, with only a single February storm to fill dams between the end of 2014 and harvest. There were two periods of cooler weather; one during flowering resulted in relatively small clusters and another in very early September just after the start of a protracted harvest that lasted until 8 October. To be offered on the Bordeaux Place on Monday 3 September. (The 2014 was about €225 a bottle en primeur.)