Opus One 2014 flies out of the blocks, say merchants

Strong early demand for Opus One 2014 has added to signs that the market for top California wines remains buoyant in 2017.

Merchants in the US and UK have reported strong sales for the recently released Opus One 2014 vintage, priced at around £2,500 per 12-bottle case in bond – or £250 per single bottle in the UK and just over $300-a-bottle in the US at the time of writing*.

Liv-ex calculated that the price made it the cheapest of the last 10 Opus One vintages being traded on its platform, in the sterling currency.

Decanter’s William Kelley rated the 2014 wine at 93 points, versus 94 for the lauded 2013.

‘It’s quite a serious, savoury Opus which will need a few years in the cellar to unwind,’ said Kelley of the 2014 vintage, advising a drinking window of 2020 to 2037.

See William Kelley’s full Opus One 2014 tasting note

‘We could have sold our allocation many times over,’ said Craig Norton, sales director at Fine & Rare in the UK.

‘2014 Opus One pre-sales are selling very well,’ said Justin Grover, president of Fine Wines International in San Francisco. He added that the wine is consistently one of his best sellers.

Hart Davis Hart (HDH) in Chicago sold its full allocation, although Nick Pagoria, its vice president and retail sales manager, said that this took ‘a bit longer than for the 2013 vintage’.

He added, ‘Encouraging without a doubt – Opus One continues to be a wine that performs well year in and year out.’

This supports ongoing optimism around the California market in general, albeit the region is still a small part of the global fine wine investment scene and Bordeaux has returned to the fore in 2017.

Pagoria, of HDH, said, ‘California has been solid for us as there is constant demand for the established, high level wines. Scarcity certainly works in the favour of the smaller “Cult” producers.

Elin McCoy suggested in Decanter magazine’s October issue that some of California’s ‘cult’ wines were becoming over-blown, with minimal stylistic differences and inflated price tags.

But recent vineyard deals, like Constellation’s buyout of Schrader, indicate that the market sees little slow-down – at least for now.

A 2017 harvest heatwave was this week causing concern for Napa growers, and that could yet have repercussions for the market further down the line, but it was too early to fully assess its impact.

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