What You Need to Know About the New Kid on the Block
With the a first vintage only launched in 1983, Opus One is a relative newcomer to the wine game, but in such a short time they’ve become one of the highest profile wines to come out of the burgeoning California wine scene. Here we cover the why and how of this extraordinary rise.
- One Grand Opus
The genesis of Opus One wine can be traced to 1970 at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii where Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild met for the very first time and began their collaboration to merge old world and new world wine styles into one grand opus.
- A Grand Sum of all its Parts
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.
- The Devil is in the Details
Despite being a signature Napa Valley wine, the Opus One vines are planted five times more densely than is usual in the region. This encourages the growth of smaller berries, which – the winey argues – sets the wine apart by heightening the intensity of its aromas and flavours. Grapes are hand-harvested and sorted, followed by long maceration periods in stainless steel
- Expensive Taste
The first vintage, 1979 was released in 1984 at the same time as the 1980 vintage. For a while it was the most expensive Californian wine costing $50 and to date still ranks among the most expensive red wines produced in the Napa Valley, commanding prices of $305 per bottle on average.