Opus One Winery was founded as a joint venture between Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi. Their goal was to produce a top-class wine in California, reminiscent of the great Bordeaux wines. Even if ownership has changed in the meantime: every vintage is sold out within a few hours on October 1st.
History of the collaboration between Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild
Opus One Winery in California's Napa Valley is the result of a legendary collaboration. As early as the 1970s, the American Robert Mondavi and the Frenchman Baron Philippe de Rothschild were thinking about producing a top-quality red wine from California. It should have the characteristics of a great Bordeaux wine. The joint project took shape at the end of the 1970s. Because the first harvest took place, with the grapes still coming from the vineyards of wine pioneer Robert Mondavi. After the collaboration was announced, a case of the wine was sold at a Napa Valley wine auction in 1981. The hammer only fell for the last time at an incredible 24,000 US dollars. A record price.
Initially, the wine was also called Napamedoc, which was a bit unwieldy. Napa stood for the Napa Valley wine-growing region, while Medoc referred to the wine-growing region in Bordeaux. In 1982, the wine icons created the name Opus One, which is also commonly used for a composer's masterpiece. The naming was not too high. Because the sales of the first vintages from 1979 and 1980 achieved unusually high prices of over 50 US dollars per bottle in 1984. In the 1980s and 1990s, the Opus One Winery became more and more established. During these years, Opus One developed into an internationally renowned cult wine.
Napa Valley wine region
This valley is the most famous wine region in Northern California. It is north of San Francisco and west of the California capital, Sacramento. From 1966 Mondavi built his winery here and revolutionized winegrowing with innovative ideas. The valley consists mainly of volcanic soils, clay and alluvial soils. In the northern part it is much warmer than in the open southern part of the valley, which is characterized by the cooling air of the ocean. In addition, the eastern slopes of the valley benefit from the afternoon sun, while the grapes on the western side are spoiled by the morning sun. The main grape of the valley is the Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Mondavi and Rothschild winery is fairly central in the valley. This location means that the maritime influences of the Bay of San Pablo can still be felt. Overall, there are large temperature differences between day and night, which are so important for characterful development. The clay soils in the valley floor are typical for the west side of the AVA Oakville, so that the grapes ripen excellently. Otherwise alluvial soil with good drainage prevails.
Opus One is grown on approximately 170 hectares in the west of the Oakville AVA in the Napa Valley of California. There are four plots in total, with 100 hectares located in the historic To Kalon site. It was planted for the first time in 1870. Another 70 hectares of vineyards surround the winery.
grape varieties and taste
The legendary wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Of course, the grape variety Cabernet Sauvignon plays the main role. The composition always varies slightly from vintage to vintage. Initially, the proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon was even higher and the proportions of Cabernet Franc and Merlot lower. Over the years, the wine has been refined with the Petit Verdot and Malbec grape varieties. As a result, Opus One has become even more complex and full-bodied, but has retained its distinctiveness.
The wine is aged in new French oak barrels for about 18 months. After aging in barrels, the wine is stored in bottles for another 15 to 18 months for further maturation. It takes three years for a vintage to go on sale. The wine has a long shelf life of over 25 years. On October 1st of each year, the respective vintage is launched and is sold out within a few hours.
The claim to produce a high-quality, typical Bordeaux wine is confirmed year after year. However, some preparation is always necessary for enjoyment. Because the Opus One shows its full class when a few hours of oxygen supply complete its unique character. He convinces with his ruby red color. The bouquet exudes notes of cherries, black currants, blackberries and raspberries. Dark chocolate, black olives and smoke provide further nuances. The legend from California is extremely complex and multi-layered.