The strong sun bathes the hues and curves of California's Napa Valley, which is surrounded by a vast backdrop of hills and an area of vineyards that stretches as far as the eye can see. But a distinct world is revealed when the sun sets behind this vast expense. The Opus One Cabernet Sauvignon staff done's their thick hats and scarves during harvest season to gather the estates' extremely valuable fruit at night when the temperature drops to freezing. We had the good fortune to taste the wines of a Californian domain who's wines were born of different cultures in June thanks to a swift change in the temperature.
Opus One Cabernet Sauvignon has been a challenging undertaking since the moment it was conceived. When Philippe de Rothschild fell in love with California's personality, the decision to take his extensive winemaking expertise across the Atlantic was obvious. The Baron De Rothschild's goal in working with Riber Mondavi was to bring Bordeaux's viticulture to life on entirely new soil, which required bringing in the regions traditional grape varietals, oak barrels for the same kind of ageing, and more than a suitcase worth of ancestry knowledge at first. However much the conventional, old world method could be copied, a project like this would inevitably take on a life of its own and develop its own legs. We also wouldn't prefer it any other way! This hybrid culture produces a convergence of ideas and methodology which produce special wine.
Producing great wine is simple; the first 100 years are the challenging part, according to Philippe De Rothschild. However, Opus One's 1979 vintage was its debut and the estate appears to be doing well so far. It is evident that putting Bordeaux vines in foreign soil was a gamble worth taking given that it attracted 90,000 persons per year at its park, has a top-notch winery, and 69 hectares of terroir with a wide range of terroirs. The Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit vendor, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and malbec plants have somehow learned to survive despite being far from their native habitats. And the habitat to which they have adapted is fascinating. The Napa Valley receives very little rain, therefore the Napa Valley wines are planted tall and densely to shield the grapes from the scorching sun.