Opus One 1996
Bordeaux Red Blends from Napa Valley, California
A decreased berry set in May followed by sunny days and warm July nights brought the smaller-than-average crop of 1996 to maturity in mid-September. Offering hints of violets and mint on the nose, the 1996 Opus One shows intense flavors of blackberry, chocolate and roasted coffee. Its soft texture and deep, plush flavors are supported by a firm structure and elegant middle body. The 1996 imparts a persistently long finish that forecasts long bottle aging.
Blend: 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot, 3% Malbec
The Wine Advocate - "This is one of the finest Opus Ones to date, offering a dark ruby/purple color, as well as a striking, intense bouquet of sweet licorice intermixed with blackberries, cassis, plums, and saddle leather. This seamless, full-bodied wine is more velvety-textured, opulent, and succulent than past vintages. The mid-palate is expansive and chewy. The long finish is filled with glycerin, ripe fruit, and sweet tannin."
International Wine Cellar - "Bright full ruby-red. Pungent black raspberry, leather, game, chocolate, espresso, pepper and fresh herbs. Juicy, bright and very concentrated, with crunchy currant, tobacco and dark chocolate flavors supported and amplified by a firm spine of acidity. Long on personality. Finishes with dusty tannins and excellent length."
Vinous / Antonio Galloni - "A total opposite of the 1995, the 1996 Opus One blasts from the glass with massive dark fruit, iron, scorched earth, graphite and new leather. The 1996 is one of the more virile, bombastic wines in this vertical. Plums, cloves, leather and tar all flesh out on the huge, imposing finish. Although a bit rustic and brooding, the 1996 is an outstanding wine if taken on its own terms. The finish is framed by substantial tannins and an element of burliness that is likely the result of a succession of heat spikes. In 1986 Opus One is 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 3% Merlot and 3% Malbec."
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Opus One Winery
Opus One is a partnership founded by Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Chateau mouton Rothschild in Pauillac, France, and renowned Napa Valley vintner, Robert Mondavi. Producing luxury wines from its Napa Valley vineyards, the partnership made its first vintage in 1979 and has made wine at Opus one since 1991. The 2009 vintage is distributed in all 50 states and is sold in 65 countries worldwide. View all Opus One Wines
About Napa ValleyView a map of Napa Valley wineries
It's hard not to think of Napa Valley when thinking of California wines. The region is, after all, the one that brought world recognition to California wine making. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux Blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Notable FactsWithin the Napa Valley lie smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two is St.-Helena and finally, just grated an AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap and Mount Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
About CaliforniaIt's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
- Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
- Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
- Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
- Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.