At 40 years old, the colour here is still exceptionally dark, surprisingly so. On the palate, the more expected signs of evolution are certainly there in the form of incense, soft truffle and forest floor notes, but there is a richness to the spine, and this was one of the most enjoyable wines of the tasting. It held up over five hours in the glass, gaining in layers. Remarkable when you think this was the first ever vintage, made in a far more classic Bordeaux-type winemaking style than would be typical today, with just 10 days of skin contact to extract colour and tannins. Helped by the fact that 1979 was a perfect growing season until rains arrived in September during harvest. A clear sign that something special was underway. (JA)
The 1979 Opus One emerges from the glass with pine, menthol, sweet red cherries, tobacco, dried flowers and savory herbs. Deceptively medium in body, the 1979 packs a serious punch on the palate, where it still has fabulous depth and remarkable vigor for a wine of its age. Sweet, silky tannins frame the gorgeous finish. What a great start to this tasting. Any remaining bottles need to be enjoyed now, but the 1979 remains superb. Tim Mondavi describes 1979 as a fairly normal year, with a little more rain than normal. The blend is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 16% Cabernet Franc and 4% Merlot. (AG)
Tasted from magnum. Wonderful range of mature, complex dried cherry, berry, herb, cedar, anise and olive. Offers depth, polish and grace, finishing with firm tannins. Lovely now. Opus One vertical. (JL)
Tasted at a private dinner in London. I tend to be rather cynical about Opus One, I cannot deny that this has lasted the course remarkably well. A deep garnet, almost black hue. A very attractive nose of tinned prune, sweet blackberry and a pronounced medicinal, menthol character. Good definition. The palate is well-balanced, fresh with good acidity. Ripe blackberry leaf and a touch of morello cherry though the finish is a little short. Still drinking very well – a great debut. (NM)
Fully mature, brick rim but good depth of crimson too. Sweet, gentle fully mature nose. Not desperately intense but certainly eloquent enough. Quite a luscious palate entry with a bit of acidity showing now and some dryness on the finish. As though this wine is going downhill but very, very slowly. Not especially alcoholic. Fresh, refreshing. Contrary to popular folklore, Opus claim they didn’t poach fruit for this from the 1979 Robert Mondavi Cabernet Reserve because Lucian Sionneau of Mouton chose the leaner samples, leaving the fatter ones for Reserve. Only 10 day skin contact and he captured some of the press wines to mitigate this.
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