Opus One 2016 has released this morning, which gets the Bordeaux September campaign off to an exciting start with one of the most popular releases of the year. The 2016 vintage in Napa is – as James Suckling says – an ‘outstanding vintage for reds with the 2016, making it the fifth top year in a row.’ Indeed, it began with heavy rainfall in Autumn, the perfect relief of the drought status in the region. A cooler than average August saw the grapes ripen gradually, resulting in wines which display excellent freshness, higher than average acidity, balanced with superb complexity. Lisa Perrotti-Brown of The Wine Advocate says, ‘I believe 2016 to be the best, most consistent Napa Valley vintage among a string of five great years: 2012-2016.’ This is of course incredible praise.
It comes as no surprise therefore, that Opus one 2016 has been awarded a superb 97+ points from Perrotti-Brown, who calls it a ‘very decadent expression of Opus One with a provocatively effortless harmoniousness that is truly difficult to resist.’ It has been awarded 99 points from James Suckling and 96+ points from Antonio Galloni from Vinous Media, who says ‘I expect the 2016 will enjoy a long drinking window that will start to open relatively soon’. This makes it a blockbuster Opus, among the finest ever made. The release price today reflects a 13% increase on last year, priced today at £1,470 per case of six.
Opus One historically displays a brilliant vintage premium, as presented in the table below. It provides consistent and attractive long-term price appreciation, since the release of the 2009 vintage collectors have been rewarded on average 48% price appreciation from release price to the current market price. Today’s release continues this trend, with the average trading price of vintages back to 2005 trading 14% higher.
The production of Opus One is similar to Lafite and Mouton Rothschild at 25,000 cases per year, however, due to the immense popularity there is already an apparent shortfall in supply. The reason for this is that it is still priced very competitively against its Bordeaux equivalent First Growths, particularly given its incredible power, voluptuous mouthfeel and stunning purity. Opus One’s rise to global acclaim began with its first vintage in 1979, released in 1984 and at the time it was California’s most expensive wine at $50 per bottle. Its genesis is one of privilege, a joint venture between two wine giants and leaders in innovation, Robert Mondavi and Baron Philippe de Rothschild.
The winery is located in Oakville, one of the most central wine regions in the Napa Valley. The valley straddles the Mayacamas and Vaca Mountain ranges, which create cool yet extremely sunny conditions, perfect for high quality grape growing. Opus One is grown on densely planted vineyards, bounded by a state of the art winery. The Estate’s buildings are defined by colonnades on either side, designed to blend in with the surrounding rolling hills and stylistically synthesise old and new world aesthetics, in the same way the wine combines the best features of Napa and Bordeaux. The limestone winery and the world beating wine have become a symbol and the apogee of great American wine-making.
Along with Opus One 2016 we are pleased to be able to offer their second wine, Overture, though the market sees it as an alternative parallel expression to Opus One. It has been made since 1993, designed for family consumption and restaurants. It is fashioned to provide maximum pleasure with food and to be accessible younger. This is achieved by creating a multi-vintage blend sourced from the same vineyards as Opus One. By blending vintages, they can achieve a standardised quality factor, which has been brilliantly received in leading restaurants. During this time, its star has risen so high, as has its demand, that they have decided to make is available commercially.
Opus One has a relentless pursuit in their vineyard, to farm every parcel with the focus to produce their flagship wine. However, in some vintages, some of these parcels do not make it into the final blend of Opus One. It is these parcels that are afforded additional barrel time. Each parcel will latterly be blended into Overture, a multiple vintage super cuvee. Overture is in fact a homage to Bordeaux Blends. It is a classic Bordeaux Blend with Cabernet Sauvignon making up around 70% of the wine, but also contains the other classic Bordeaux varietals: Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Its extra time in barrel before blending, gives it a greater elegance, with dark fruit flavours, smoke, toast and leather. It drinks beautifully young, hence its great restaurant attraction, but stands the test of time, brilliant after a decade or more. It is a superb expression of the Estate, which currently costs just over one third of the average trading price of Opus One. The price today is £630 per case of six and the Estate are pushing the price forward. Indeed, there is considerably less Overture available and it is priced brilliantly for its quality.
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