Earlier this year, on 16th February, iDealwine organised a rare and extraordinary dinner at the Lucas Carton restaurant that wine lovers had been pushing for. The evening featured bottles from Opus One, which is located in Napa Valley, a place well-known for its refined gastronomy and paying attention to food and wine pairings.
The greatest thing about iDealwine’s wine-loving customers is that they never pass up the opportunity to enjoy a good evening over a few bottles of marvellous wines. That was once again evident when the few tickets available for this dinner on the iDealwine website were snapped up within a matter of hours!
We definitely don’t want to give up doing our fascinating e-tasting sessions since they are always a huge hit, but we do also want to get back to organising a series of events, both for and with our best customers, that are centred around fantastic, hard-to-find bottles of wine. American wines are becoming increasingly popular among wine lovers and the theme of this evening was to discover the different sides to Opus One, in good company, with distinctive and impeccable cuisine. The evening was held at Lucas Carton, surrounded by the incredible Art Nouveau decor in this temple of food and wine pairings, which is led by head chef Hugo Bourny. Hugo, whose career was forged after a stint working with Arnaud Donckele at the Vague d’Or, before joining Anne-Sophie Pic and later, Hélène Darroze, now writesprecise menus featuring magnificent products that are chosen with the utmost care, which he does with finesse. In addition to this, he also ingeniously creates wine pairings with the help of head sommelier Marcantonio Sassi, who packed his bags, left Piedmont and headed for France a little over 20 years ago. We pulled out all the stops when organising this dinner with Gwendoline La Burthe, Export Manager at Opus One.
EXCLUSIVE CHAMPAGNES BY PEHU-SIMONET
The day finally arrived when wine lovers could let their taste buds run wild with two exclusive cuvées of Champagne produced by Pehu Simonet. The family has been producing wine in Verzenay (Montagne de Reims) for four generations and despite not marketing themselves, the Champagne house is well-known by wine lovers across the globe as most of its production is exported. The estate, which has been in the hands of David Pehu since 1995, extends over an exquisite and highly sought after vineyard, five hectares of which are located in Grand Cru areas. It also owns a handful of Chardonnay grapes from Premier Cru plots, which were previously sold to traders. They are now used to produce cuvées known as “Fins Lieux”, which David Pehu wanted to sell himself due to the superb quality of the grapes. The 2013 “Les Chouettes”, produced from chalky soil, creates a Champagne with a delicate nose which contains appealing notes of lemon, giving way to a lively palate. This bottle certainly geared us up for the rest of the evening ;). It was followed by something completely different; the 2012 “Les Poules” cuvée is produced entirely from Pinot Noir grapes that are grown in the Mailly Grand Cru area. “Les Poules” has a chalky subsoil with a marl surface and a cool, north, north-east exposure. The vinification process does not involve malolactic fermentation and ends with a light dosage of 1.5g, which preserves the freshness of the wine and gives it a very pure base with beautiful tension. Pehu Simonet – don’t forget the name because it has absolutely charmed us.
OPUS ONE, STAR OF NAPA VALLEY
The Opus One label, which has become something of an emblem of Napa Valley, still features the faces of the winery’s two creators. Towards the start of the 1970s, the highly visionary Baron de Rothschild, wanted to create a wine that was produced by Californian vineyards and so, he teamed up with Robert Mondavi to create the exceptional wine we know today as Opus One. New facilities were installed at the winery in 1991, which provided the two founders with the necessary tools to fulfil their dreams and ambitions. The vineyard, which covers 69 hectares, is certified as organic and tests were conducted with the aim of introducing biodynamic farming methods but the humungous yield was not the desired result so they did not pursue them. Irrigation is permitted in this region since the vines are subject to scorching temperatures during the summer months. The wines are aged for 18 months in barrels with a further 15 months ageing in bottles before they are sold. Although Opus One has a loyal domestic market, 60% of its production is sold in 90 countries across the globe. It’s hard enough these days to get your hands on a bottle of wine produced by Opus One, so you can only imagine just how rare it is to be able to organise a vertical tasting evening with them!
Opus One 2005
The first wine of the evening was the 2005 Opus One, which was the oldest vintage present. 2005 was a rather wet and cool year in Napa Valley with harvests lasting right through until November. The nose is exuberant with aromas of perfectly ripened black fruits, particularly blackcurrants, and stewed fruits, like damson plums. It perfectly expresses the characteristics of a fine, ripe Cabernet Sauvignon, which makes up 88% of the blend. On the palate, this 2005 vintage is full-bodied and harmonious and will be at its best after a few more years in the cellar. The wine is abundantly fresh with elegant aromas of eucalyptus. It was served with raw red tuna on a bed of fermented beetroot cream, and the wine’s supple, delicate texture gracefully opened up the palate.
Opus One 2009
A surprisingly different vintage than usual for Opus One, yet, one which made this evening so exciting. Each of the five wines tasted during the evening had very different profiles, which reflected the climatic conditions that occurred during the year in which the vintage was produced. The 2009 vintage was characterised by an intense heat wave during the September, which meant that the vines were harvested earlier than normal and it had to be completed faster than usual due to incoming rain. The wine has an tropical nose, marked by notes of chocolate and spices (Indian spices), with a hint of smoke and delicious meaty notes. The palate is full of finesse, enveloping and intense right through to the very long finish. It was paired with mushroom-stuffed ravioli in a wine sauce with delicious Colonnata bacon, offering a perfect mix of flavour and texture.
Opus One 2013
This vintage is one of Opus One’s greatest successes. Although the boiling hot summer meant that the grapes had to be harvested much earlier than normal, the end product is a perfectly balanced bottle of wine! The wine seems reserved at first, with an exquisite floral nose of roses and an impressively long and delicate palate. The balance between power and elegance in this wine is nothing short of perfection. Needless to say that the combination of this 2013 vintage and a piece of melt-in-your-mouth beef is one that will last a lifetime, both in your mouth and in your memory ;).
Opus One 2016
The Opus One terroir is certainly resilient as 2016 marked the fifth consecutive year of drought in the region which has an extreme climate, although the wine itself is very delicate. It is floral and well-balanced on the nose, unveiling beautiful and intense aromas of black fruits, particularly of blackcurrants, which is the flavour of great, well-ripened Cabernets. There is a powerful and lively attack on the mouth and its texture coats the taste buds with a remarkable acidity. This 2016 also pairs perfectly with a deliciously rare piece of beef.
Opus One 2018
A young wine with a nose of an explosion of red and black fruits, such as prunes, blackberries and blackcurrants, that is enhanced by delicious spicy notes. The texture spreads its way across the palate with abundant energy and freshness, which is intense and powerful right through to the finish. it’s a lively number that needs several more years in the cellar to calm down. It was paired with a dessert made from a beautiful combination of Grand Cru chocolate from Venezuela and an irresistible cherry compote. This sensational dessert, created by young patissier Jordan Talbot, rounded off the dinner perfectly.
The delicate texture of the 2005 vintage, the enticing and tropical characteristics of the 2009, the balance of the 2013, the floral characteristics of the 2016 vintage and the vigour of the 2018 vintage are all the elements that go into crafting a great wine, which unfurls, year after year, with elegance and harmony.
As you can tell, the guests from iDealwine had a truly magical evening and we are extremely grateful to Gwendoline La Burthe for making this event possible and for bringing it to life with so much talent and enthusiasm. It’s a night we will never forget.