Two Bordeaux Blends
We had some friends over for dinner last night, real wine afficionados like ourselves. I opted to break into some good stuff to accompany our meal. The first wine was a 1995 Opus One, which was one of two bottles Catherine and I received as wedding presents back in 2000. The second wine was a 2000 Chateau Cantemerle. I decided to open the Opus One after reading an article in Wine Spectator that wrote about some of the 1995 California Cabernets and how they were faring. In the past, WS has scored the '95 Opus One at 93 or 95. But in this article WS scored the wine at 82, which worried me. Perhaps the wine was past its prime? Perhaps I missed out on the legendary Opus One greatness? As it turns out, there was nothing to worry about. This wine was brilliant on all levels. The 1995 Opus One is a Bordeaux-style blend of 86% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7 % Cabernet Franc, 5% Merlot, and 2% Malbec. It is aged for 18 months in new French oak barrels, and interestingly has 39 days of skin contact. When I first opened the wine, I knew I wanted to decant it so no sediment would wreck the experience. I had stood the bottle up down in the cellar a few days ago to allow the sediment to settle at the bottom. This turned out to be a good move. After pulling the cork, the bouquet leapt out of the bottle. I poured a small sample into a Riedel tasting glass--after all, I didn't want to serve a bad wine to our guests. :-) The wine was largely still at cellar temperature (59 degrees in my cellar), having been brought up only an hour before. The wine was somewhat brick colored with a nice nose and bright flavors. Definitely a good wine. I poured most of the wine from the bottle into our decanter. The remainder went back into the tasting glass (where the sediment was evident in the cloudy color of the wine). I finished that up over the next 20 minutes or so. I just couldn't bear to throw it out, sediment notwithstanding. My initial impressions were that this was a very good wine, nice and complex, but hardly stellar. But I was looking forward to seeing how it would be after a couple hours in the decanter and it reached room temperature. When we poured the wine with dinner, it was as if there was a completely different wine in the decanter. The color, obviously, didn't change, but the aromas were notably improved--we picked out cedar, cassis, and wild cherry. The flavors were stunningly delicious, with a nice long, long finish. We were all very impressed and wondered if a better wine could be found. It was balanced, harmonious, and left nothing to be desired. 95 to 100 on the WineGeek scale. We left some of the Opus One in the decanter to open up further while we enjoyed the Chateau Cantemerle. This wine was probably opened up way too early, but it was certainly enjoyable. It too was decanted for a couple of hours. It was a dark purplish red with lots of earthy aromas. Definitely Bordeaux. This wine is 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Merlot, 5% Petit Verdot, and 5% Cabernet Franc. The wine comes from vines averaging 30 years old. The wine has skin contact for 28 to 30 days. (You have to love it when wineries publish all sorts of technical data on the web.) The flavors in the wine were darker than the Opus One, which is not surprising considering the age difference. Still, I would score this a solid 90 on the WineGeek scale. I have a few more bottles in the cellar, and I look forward to seeing how those age over the next several years. Two great wines, along with great friends, made for a memorable evening.