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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Peter Richards

Opus One, the groundbreaking Napa Valley joint venture between Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi, heralded a new phase in its evolution at a recent dinner in London, where the 2001 vintage was unveiled for the first time in public. Opus One was founded in 1979 but now, for the first time in its history, the winery has a sole dedicated CEO in David Pearson, who was appointed in early 2004, and a single head winemaker in Michael Silacci, who arrived from Stags' Leap in 2001. It's like a kid leaving home,' said Pearson. Opus One is 25 years old now, so we're looking to move on - although we'll still need to see the parents now and again for advice and money.' The 2001 was the first wine made by Silacci. Commenting on why the UK had been chosen for the first-ever such public tasting, Pearson hinted that the winery would be increasingly focusing on the UK and other international markets from now on. He also detailed ongoing detailed research into terroir in their Napa Valley vineyards, asserting that on a scale of one to 10, we're at 7.5 in our understanding of our terroir' and that 80% of terroir is water relations.' Opus One 2001 is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot, 3% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. It is set for release on 1 October 2004.