2018 opus one, napa valley (750ml)
Extremely perfumed and floral with lavender, lilacs and violets to the sweet, ripe berries, such as blackberries and blackcurrants. Some slate and graphite, too. It’s full-bodied, yet ever so balanced and refined, with super fine tannins that last for minutes. Fresh herbs, such as bay leaf and lemongrass highlight the dark fruit. The quality of tannin is exquisite with wonderful polish and refinement. Lasts for minutes. So wonderful to taste now, but better after 2026.
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Very deep garnet-purple in color, the 2018 Opus One soars out of the glass with bright, bold boysenberries, warm cassis and ripe, juicy black plums notes, plus emerging nuances of lilacs, oolong tea, cinnamon stick, tilled soil and black truffles. Medium to full-bodied, the palate is packed with tightly wound layers of crunchy black fruits, supported by firm, grainy tannins and fantastic freshness, finishing with lifted fruitiness and on a lingering mineral note....this vintage is a triumph at Opus One and a testament to the subtle changes that Silacci and his team have been conducting in the vineyards and winery over the last 15+ years. Bravo!
The 2018 Opus One is a blend of 84 Cabernet Sauvignon, 6 Petit Verdot, and the rest Merlot and Cabernet Franc. This deep purple-hued effort leans to lively, fresher side of the vintage but has a brilliant, utterly classic style in its crème de cassis and blue-tinged fruit as well as notes of lead pencil, candied violets, damp earth, and chocolate-like nuances. With a Pomerol-like elegance and purity, it's medium to full-bodied and has wonderful tannins, flawless balance, and a great finish. It plays in the finesse-driven end of the spectrum yet is concentrated and seamless, with serious length. It offers pleasure today but should benefit from 4-5 years in the cellar, and my money is on it evolving for 30 years or more.
Napa Valley’s meteoric rise began in 1976 when it upset Bordeaux and Burgundy in a blind tasting. The victory vaulted Napa into superstardom, cementing it among the most prestigious wine regions in the world. Today, Napa’s cabernet sauvignons and chardonnays - with their mountain of 100-point ratings and limited production - represent the new frontier for fine wine.
Why We're Investing
With all due respect to other New World wine regions, none are more investment-worthy than Napa Valley. Part of that is Napa’s idyllic climate that winemakers consider a Goldilocks zone for viticulture. Part is the cutting-edge winemaking culture devoid of centuries-old rules and regulations. Most of all, though, Napa Valley proved that great wine can come from anywhere, not just Europe. That epiphany occurred on May 24, 1976. Two wine merchants had set up a blind tasting that pitted top California red blends against blue-chip Bordeaux and California chardonnays against white Burgundies. Up until this point, no one thought that Old World wines had an equal in the New World. But when the scores were tallied, Napa Valley proved victorious. This watershed moment shifted the fine wine world on its axis. It thrust Napa Valley into the global spotlight and set the stage for the future broadening of the market. As wine historian Oz Clarke put it: “California was the catalyst and then the locomotive for change that finally pried open the ancient European wine land's rigid grip on the hierarchy of quality wine and led the way in proving that there are hundreds if not thousands of places around the world where good to great wine can be made.” Napa Valley parlayed that success into a cult wine revolution. Pioneers like Joseph Phelps, Dominus, and Harlan Estate began producing small-batch wines (fewer than 600 cases per year) with feverous demand. Add in 99 and 100-point scores from top critics and word-of-mouth hype, and prices for these cult cabs reached stratospheric heights. No winery better exemplifies this trend than Screaming Eagle. The unassuming Oakville estate was largely unknown outside Napa Valley until 1995. That year, wine critic Robert Parker awarded the debut vintage a 99-point score, transforming it into an instant cult icon. A few years later, Screaming Eagle’s inaugural vintage sold for a then-world record $500,000 at auction.
What's the Latest
Watch out. Napa Valley is on a roll. The region has strung together multiple exceptional vintages, most notably in 2010, 2013, 2016, and 2018. The fine wine markets have reacted accordingly. Over the last five years, Napa Valley ranks as the third-best-performing wine region, narrowly edging Italy (47.2 to 45.9). That upward trajectory is still going. The Liv-ex California 50, an index that tracks top regional wines, reached new all-time highs in 2021 and 2022. Napa Valley has enjoyed rising prices thanks to its expanding distribution network. In 2004, Opus One became the first Napa Valley wine to distribute exclusively via La Place de Bordeaux - a renowned system of merchants that sells the most in-demand wines worldwide. Since Opus One’s debut, others like Inglenook and Joseph Phelps have joined the fold, helping Napa reach a global audience while boosting sales for La Place merchants. Meanwhile, California has seen its share of the secondary market grow from 0.1 to 7.1 over the last decade. That’s the highest percentage of market share of any region outside of France or Italy.
The secret to Napa Valley’s future may lie in its past. A number of wineries are taking inspiration from the Old World with classic, terroir-driven wines as opposed to hedonistic behemoths meant to appease select critics. Some Napa Valley estates like Dominus, Opus One, and Pym Rae even have French owners, allowing consumers to truly enjoy the best of both worlds. Napa Valley’s secret weapon is the terroir itself. The region has 16 American Viticultural Areas that contain half of the world’s soils, making it more diverse than any other investment-grade wine region. This viticultural playground stretches from windswept flatlands to gentle rolling hills to rugged mountains, giving producers boundless creative freedom to make the next great American wine.