Decanted: Wine Tasting With Opus One

Opus OnePhoto Credit: Opus One

Haute Wine Society and Wine Access’s Head of Wine, Vanessa Conlin, MW, were lucky enough to spend a glorious afternoon wine tasting with Opus One’s CEO Chris Lynch and its winemaker, Michael Silacci. Here is what we learned about one of the greatest wine partnerships in history.

Opus One

Opus OnePhoto Credit: Opus One

Opus One is the realized dream of two men: Baron Philippe de Rothschild of Chateau Mouton Rothschild in Bordeaux and Napa Valley vintner Robert Mondavi. Together, our founders set out to create a single wine dedicated to the pursuit of uncompromising quality. This singular mission shapes every vintage, today and for generations to come.

CEO Chris Lynch
Opus OnePhoto Credit: Opus One

Chris Lynch assumed responsibility as Chief Executive Officer at Opus One in September of 2020. A 30-year veteran of the global fine wine and drinks business, Lynch has held marketing and general management roles in California, Australia, and New Zealand for several fine wine organizations, including Gallo, Kendall-Jackson, Moët Hennessy, Pernod Ricard and most recently, Terlato Wines. He holds an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. Lynch discovered the world of wine while playing semi-professional basketball in France in his late teens. A native of Northern California, he returned from France to discover the emerging wine regions of Napa Valley and Sonoma County. His first trip to Napa Valley in 1979 corresponds to Opus One’s first vintage.

Winemaker/Viticulturist Michael Silacci

Opus OnePhoto Credit: John Bedell
Michael Silacci assumed full responsibility for all aspects of vineyard management and winemaking at Opus One in May 2003. He has been at Opus One since March of 2001, first serving as Director of Viticulture and Enology. Prior to his current appointment, Silacci spent six years as winemaker at Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, one year as winemaker at King Estate in Oregon, and six years at Beaulieu Vineyard as enologist and viticulturist. He has also made wine in France and Chile. He holds a master’s degree in viticulture from U.C. Davis in addition to under-graduate degrees in enology and viticulture from U.C. Davis and the Université de Bordeaux. Embracing a holistic vision of winegrowing as the ultimate expression of terroir, he ensures that the connection between viticulture and winemaking at Opus One is seamless, reflecting the philosophy of founders Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi.



Opus OnePhoto Credit: Opus One

The 2016 Opus One is remarkably elegant and bright offering sumptuous aromas of fresh red and blue fruit, baking spices and vanilla, and a delicate fragrance of spring florals. The initial bouquet is augmented by more nuanced notes of sage, rosemary, and black olive. Juicy flavors of black cherry, blackberry and cassis flood the palate and creamy, fine-grained tannins deliver a delightfully round structure. Harmonious and lively, the flavors linger to create an enduring finish with touches of dark chocolate and espresso.
Blend: 77% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 8% Petit Verdot, 5% Cabernet Franc, 2% Malbec


Opus OnePhoto Credit: Opus One

Aromas of blackberry, rose petals, chocolate and espresso accentuate fruity and earthy nuances. Round velvety tannins enrobe a silky texture with a touch of minerality. The flavors of dark fruit are enhanced by the well integrated acidity. The acidity and tannin structure promise a very long life ahead.


Opus OnePhoto Credit: Opus One

Aromas of rose petals, cassis and black cherry in the 2008 combine with notes of marzipan and sandalwood. A satin texture enrobes the wine’s smooth, round tannins, its bright acidity supporting a juicy and elegant mouthfeel. This precocious and remarkable wine offers a long finish, with traces of clove and dark chocolate.

KEY QUOTES Opus OnePhoto Credit: Opus One

Michael on the 2008 vintage: “It was the smallest vintage ever yield-wise that Opus had, and it was the second year of my obsession with dry farming. It was the second year of a drought… it was a year that we had frost on reducing the potential yields, and Mr. Mondavi passed that year. Jean-Emmanuel Danjoy who I had worked with for ten years was leaving to go to Château Clerc Milon; he’s now at Mouton Rothschild. Every year we look for something that will allow us to bring some tension, because you have to have tension between the acidity and the tannins, and and also if there’s a if we can cultivate a little bit of a healthy tension we do. It was also the second year we really started to understand how to work with petit verdot.

Chris on his favorite vintage:When I had joined Opus back in September, Michael was so gracious that we went through four different tastings of all the vintages of Opus One — 1979 to 2019. It was truly a special tasting. It enabled me as a new CEO to get to understand the progression of wine quality, hearing from Michael, which is very, very important. But the only reason I brought it up is in that tasting — and I don’t have the palette that Michael has — my favorite wine was a 2010. At 10 years old it’s still so youthful, and having tasted the older Opuses I could picture, how it would evolve for the next 10 years of its life and I just think it’s today it just brought back smiles. Just as Michael said. there’s a creaminess, there’s just the freshness to the wine.