Ask Chuck

Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

OPUS ONE and Its CEO David Pearson shine at the National Club!

The National Club
The National Club started in 1874 as a political movement that later became a club for professional business persons. The present four story, red brick building was built in 1907 and had many prominent politicians and business persons as members. A few of them were Sir Wilfred Laurier, Joseph Atkinson, Timothy Eaton, Oliver Mowat and Robert Simpson. The club today is till at the same location at 303 Bay Street and houses a grand collection of art and an extensive wine cellar.
Opus One
In the late 1970's Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Bordeaux's Chateau Mouton Rothschild contacted Robert Mondavi of California's wine making family with an idea. He wanted to collaborate on a project to produce a unique wine. Both men were visionaries and very much ahead of their time. Baron Philippe was a sportsman, arts enthusiast and trail blazer. In the 1920's he introduced the concept of "Chateau Bottled" wines and it was under his untiring tutelage that Mouton became a Bordeaux  "First Growth" as well as one of the most consistent and expensive wines in the World.
Robert Mondavi like Baron Philippe was an innovator and artist who blended wine into his world of art, culture and music. The marriage of Mouton and Mondavi was a perfect match.
The first vintage was in 1979.
The Name 
After some deliberation the name OPUS ONE was settled on. The Latin name for a musical meaning of a premier production of a composer "Opus" was matched with the number "One" meaning in this case----one wine. The wine vintages of 1979 and 1980 were jointly released in 1984 although a case of Opus was sold at the first Napa Valley Wine Auction in 1981.
The Wine Today             
Opus One is today a leading ultra premium American brand that is in ultra demand! Three vintages are listed with the Liquor Control Board of Ontario Vintages Section: 2005 Vintages #14324 1500 ml/ $765, 2008 Vintages #158063  750 ml /$364  and 2009 Vintages #26310 750 ml/$385. There are also half (375 ml) bottles of the 2008/2009 vintages available.
Opus One is now 50% owned by Constellation Brands but is operated independently under the supervision of CEO David Pearson.
David Pearson 
David Pearson took over the overseeing of the winery in 2004. He had  a strong background in both Californian and French wines as well a strong academic backgrounds in Oenology and Business. Mr. Pearson introduced the wines of the evening.
The OPUS ONE Tasting a the National Club: April 17th 2013
Opus CEO gave a detailed and very entertaining description of Opus One's founding history. He introduced three wines: Opus One 2005, 2007 and 2009.
Tasting Notes: I likened the wines to a comparison of three athletes.
2005 was a lean and very fit Tri-athlete with great endurance. The 2007 was a more muscular pole vaulter who has established himself and holding steady and the 2009 was an up and coming boxer not yet approaching his prime but up there in the ranks.
The 2005 exhibited a floral, violet  bouquet with cassis, black fruit and chocolate on the palate. The wine had a strong Bordeaux feeling to it with apparent endurance that will guarantee excellent aging potential.   
The 2007 was immediately different in mouth feel. It felt fuller and riper. Again black fruit seemed to dominate with chocolate on the palate. The wine would age well.
The 2009 cassis, blueberry and anise with chocolate in the midst. This will will definitely be a keeper that will grow in potential.
My favourite was the 2005 with a close 2007 second though the 2009 may eventually overtake the 2007. All wines were excellent.
Wine fulfils itself fully when it is matched with food and the meal that the National Club provided was one that worked well.
Toasted Cheese Biscuit
First Course
Portobello Mushroom Crepes with butter cream sauce
Main Course
Bison Steak, mashed potatoes and early carrots
Dessert Tray
Artisan Cheeses---strong to mild

The wines of the evening were of course the three vintages that were tasted prior. Again in my opinion the wine that best suited the Bison Steak was the 2005 however all wines exhibited a nice melody (Get it! Melody---? Opus?) with the meal. The 2007 was quite good with the Mushroom Crepes and the 2009 with the Cheeses.
Opus One has shown that it is a "stayer" and as an Ultra Premium it should keep on doing well with comparable wines.
My thanks to Mr. David Pearson, Sheila Puritt of the Wine Writers' Circle of Canada and Philip Mirabelli, President of  Noble Estates Wine & Spirits for inviting me to this event!