Wine Review: A Tale of Two Vintages – Opus One 2007 & 2008 I was so unbelievably honored when Opus One’s Winemaker, Michael Silacci invited me to dinner as a thank you for my Opus One 2007 wine review. Well, honored is an understatement, I was so flipping excited, I could hardly contain myself. For me, being in the company of a winemaker of his stature is like someone wanting to be a lyricist meeting Bob Dylan or a budding actor meeting Meryl Streep… it’s a big deal. Opus One was founded by two of the most famous wine families in history, the Robert Mondavi family from Napa valley, CA and the Baron Philipe de Rothschild of Mouton Rothschild, Pauilliac, France. The first vintage was in 1979… “A seemingly perfect growing season from bud break to the beginning of harvest, the 1979 vintage was challenged by rains in September. Early harvesting yielded clean, well-balanced fruit and a wine of resilience and finesse.” I was joined for dinner by my good friend, Rob, who is the perfect dinner companion and also the person who told me to start writing about wine. Michael was joined by France Posener, Opus One’s East Coast Sales Representative and a sharp-witted, brilliant, funny woman, who kept us entertained throughout the evening. When I first met Michael, I wasn’t sure whether to curtsy, bow or kiss his big gold ring. Okay, he wasn’t wearing a big gold ring, but I am trying to make the point here that this was a huge deal for me. Dinner was at the elegant L’Espalier! The decadent, over the top, completely extravagant journey of culinary delights we were on at L’Espalier will be shared at another time. Firstly, I wanted to share my very humble opinion of the Opus One 2008, which is not even out yet! How lucky am I? So, how different can a wine be from one vintage to the next? Well, quite different as it happens. Going between the 2007 and 2008 was an interesting experiment and a first for me. Whereas, the 2007 was quite subtle on the first nose, the 2008 is even more subtle and flowery – quite lovely. The 2008 is a wonderful deep almost opaque dark ruby color. I swirled my glass for quite some time (mimicking Michael a little bit) and then took in the aroma again – still subtle but with blackcurrant and smoky old fashioned pipe tobacco – it reminded me of my granddad a little and how he used to smell all smoky and musky. My first sip brought a smooth, chocolaty, creamy taste that made you shut your eyes and wish you were in a log cabin with a fire place and perhaps with George Clooney. I believe he is single again! The wine opens up more and just tickles the palate with hints of aniseed and mild spices and then finishes leaving a perfectly balanced, juicy wine that is begging to be savored. You know I stated that the 2007 “was as good it gets” and I meant it at the time and I still mean it, however, it has a rival in its own family. I honestly could not choose. It would truly depend on my mood at the time and of course who was treating me to this wonderful rich wine! Another great story about the Opus One 2008 is that it was born out of one of the smallest crops Opus One has ever had due to extreme weather conditions that caused frost damage and a very cold spring and late summer. To create such an amazing wine under these circumstances is a testament to Opus One and their ongoing dedication to making truly fine wines. I cannot even begin to put into words what an amazing evening I had so I will just say this… “Thank you!”
External Reviews for Opus One Red Bordeaux Blend Napa Valley
Saturated deep ruby. Cassis, bitter chocolate and sexy smoky oak on the nose. Dense and sweet but firmly structured, with lovely inner-mouth aromatic quality giving the wine sappy lift. Pure, penetrating flavors of cassis, lead pencil and bitter chocolate, with a sexy oak quality that I can only describe as Mouton-like. This is still quite tightly wound and will need several years of bottle aging to soften up (it wonrsquo;t be released until the fall of this year). ldquo;The biggest change here has been our independence,rdquo; said winemaker Michael Silacci, who took over winemaking responsibilities with the 2004 vintage; previously former partners Mouton-Rothschild and Robert Mondavi were involved in crafting this wine.
The 2006 comes across as a bigger, more structured wine than the 2007. The tannins are bolder, more dramatic, and more present. The wine displays impressive depth, not the velvety elegance of the 2007, but is a more muscular wine that begs for 2ndash;3 years of cellaring and should drink well for 20ndash;25 years.
Two of the strongest wines ever made at Opus One, the 2007 has terrific black currant fruit, licorice, incense, and subtle smoke, an opulent, even voluptuous mouthfeel, dazzling purity and texture, and a skyscraper-like mouthfeel. This is a sensational Opus One, with sweet tannin and impressive precision and depth. It can be drunk now or cellared for 25+ years.
Smoky roasted game meat and herb notes turn dry and minerally, with an aftertaste of loamy earth. Picks up ripe cherry and currant midpalate, gaining depth and complexity. Ends with a sense of elegance, but also dry tannins. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Best from 2011 through 2017.
Not surprisingly, the 2006 is a bigger, more muscular, less charming effort displaying unbridled power, full-bodied richness, and notes of new saddle leather, black fruits, roasted herbs, and burning embers. Powerful and rich with sweet tannin, low acidity, and more structure and density than the 2005 as well as less nuance and complexity, the 2006 should be consumed over the next 15+ years.
A tightly knit youngster, with hints of earthy cedar, tar and tobacco which join ripe currant, red cherry, anise, leather, sage and spice, ending with a strong, structured tannic finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Best from 2010 through 2016.
Bright ruby. Rather wild, claret-like aromas of currant, black raspberry, leather, dark chocolate, spices and tobacco. Then velvety in texture but also juicy and firmly structured, with mouthcoating flavors of dark berries, bitter cherry, minerals, cola and bitter chocolate. This elegantly styled wine really coats the mouth without coming off as overly sweet. Finishes with noteworthy spine and length. With extended aeration, this grew sweeter and creamier, with the black raspberry fruit taking over.