2014, 2015 and 2016 blend of fruit rejected for Opus One in the spring blending session. Fruit from their four vineyards. Bottled 14 August 2018. Quantity 10–15% of the volume of Opus One.
Deep crimson. Very pale narrow rim. Sweet, almost dark-chocolate nose. Not quite fresh enough for many a European palate, I would have thought, but certainly well made and certainly an opulent expression of Napa Cab. Little top note of balsam adds interest. A smoothness of texture and a skein of light minerality. Respectably long and ready to drink. Hardly any tannin in evidence.
Drink 2020 - 2024
Jancis Robinson, jancisrobinson.com (Aug 2020)
About this WINE
Opus One was a joint venture between Robert Mondavi and the late Baron Philippe de Rothschild. The first vintage (1979) was released in 1983 at the then unprecedented price of fifty dollars a bottle.
Opus One's fruit comes from the densely planted vineyards that surround the state of the art winery in the Oakville appellation. Opus One is a blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot and is aged for 18 months in French barrels (100% new) and then another 18 months in bottle before it is released.
Without doubt Opus One is one of California's most high profile wines, as well as being one of its best.
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.