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Opus One 1997

Bordeaux Red Blends from Napa Valley, California
  • V95
  • WS94
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Winemaker Notes

Abundant sunlight in the previous vintage produced high fertility in the vine buds and a large crop in 1997, which Opus One thinned to the lowest per-acre yield in a decade. Though Napa Valley sustained rains in late August, Opus One's vineyards were unaffected, as warm winds dried the vineyards quickly. Harvest was early and very compact, comprising just 11 days. The 1997 Opus One offers concentrated aromas of vanilla, licorice, sandalwood and toasty oak. Showing supple tannins, its silky-smooth palate accompanies flavors of blackberry-cassis, clove and roasted coffee. Powerful yet harmonious, the 1997 promises a long life in the bottle.

Blend: 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, 4% Malbec, 1% Petit Verdot

Critical Acclaim

V 95
Vinous / Antonio Galloni

The 1997 Opus One tastes like it was made yesterday, not 16 years ago. One of the most opulent, racy wines in this vertical, the 1997 literally explodes from the glass. Juicy dark red cherries, menthol, tobacco and licorice all make an appearance as the 1997 opens up over time. Readers holding the 1997 are in for a thrill. Even though the growing season was defined by hot weather, a short maturation cycle and a large crop, the wine turned out beautifully. In 1997 the blend is 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, 4% Malbec and 1% Petit Verdot, a first for Opus One.

WS 94
Wine Spectator

A rich, decidedly earthy style of Opus, showing currant, anise, black cherry, mineral, leather and sage flavors that are focused and complex.

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Opus One

Opus One

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Opus One, , California
Opus One
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.

A long and narrow valley producing flavorful red, white, and pink wines...

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A long and narrow valley producing flavorful red, white, and pink wines, the Rhône is bisected by the river of the same name and split into two distinct sub-regions—north and south. While a handful of grape varieties span the entire length of the valley, there are significant differences between the two zones in climate and geography as well as the style and quantity of wines produced. The Northern Rhône, with its continental climate and steep hillside vineyards, is responsible for a mere 5% or less of the greater region’s total output. The Southern Rhône has a much more Mediterranean climate, the aggressive, chilly Mistral wind, and plentiful fragrant wild herbs known collectively as ‘garrigue.’

In the Northern Rhône, the only permitted red variety is Syrah. In the appellations of St.-Joseph, Hermitage, Cornas, and Côte-Rôtie (where up to 20% Viognier may be co-fermented), it produces savory, peppery wines with telltale notes of olive, bacon fat, and smoke. Oily, perfumed whites are made from Viognier in Condrieu and Château-Grillet, while elsewhere only Marsanne and Roussanne are used, with the former providing body and texture and the latter lending nervy acidity. The wines of the Southern Rhône are typically blends, with the reds often based on Grenache and balanced by Syrah, Mourvèdre, and an assortment of other varieties. All three northern white varieties are used here, as well as Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourbelenc, and more. The best known sub-regions of the Southern Rhône are the reliable, wallet-friendly Côtes du Rhône and the esteemed Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Others include Gigondas, Vacqueyras, and rosé-only appellation Tavel.

Rhône Blends

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With bold fruit flavors and accents of spice...

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With bold fruit flavors and accents of spice, Rhône red blends originated in France’s Southern Rhône valley and have become popular in Priorat, Washington, South Australia, and California’s Central Coast. In the Rhône itself, 19 grape varieties are permitted for use, but many of these blends, are based on Grenache and supported by Syrah and Mourvèdre, earning the nickname “GSM blends.” Côtes du Rhône and Châteauneuf-du-Pape are perhaps the best-known outposts for these wines. Other varieties that may be found in Rhône blends include Carignan, Cinsault, and Counoise.

In the Glass

The taste profile of a Rhône blend will vary according to its individual components, as each variety brings something different to the glass. Grenache, which often forms the base of these blends, is the lightest in color but contributes plenty of ripe red fruit, a plush texture, and often high levels of alcohol. Syrah supplies darker fruit flavors, along with savory, spicy, and meaty notes. Mourvèdre is responsible for a floral perfume as well as body, tannin, and a healthy dose of color. New World examples will lie further along the fruit-forward end of the spectrum, while those from the Old World taste and smell much earthier, often with a “barnyard” character that is attractive to many fans of these wines.

Perfect Pairings

Rhône red blends typically make for very food-friendly wines. Depending on the weight and alcohol level, these can work with a wide variety of meat-based dishes—they play equally well with beef, pork, duck, lamb, or game. With their high acidity, these wines are best-matched with salty or fatty foods, and can handle the acidity of tomato sauce in pizza or pasta. Braised beef cheeks, grilled lamb sausages, or roasted squab are all fine pairings.

Sommelier Secret

Some regions like to put their own local spin on the Rhône red blend—for example, in Australia’s Barossa Valley, Shiraz is commonly blended with Cabernet Sauvignon to add structure, tannin, and a long finish. Grenache-based blends from Priorat often include Carignan (known locally as Cariñena) and Syrah, but also international varieties like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, anything goes, and it is not uncommon to see Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or even Tempranillo make an appearance.

POE22212_1997 Item# 22212

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