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.
Robert M. Parker, Jr. - 22/12/2009
Robert Parker - Wine Advocate