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Learn Opus One From Yvonne Choing

Opus One was founded by Baron Philippe de Rothschild, legendary proprietor of Chateau Mouton Rothschild, and Renowned Napa Valley vintner Robert Mondavi. By combining the great winemaking traditions and innovations of both families, the founders’ singular goal was to create an exceptional wine in the heart of the Napa Valley.”

Yvonne Choing is the export manger for Asia of Opus one. 

Brent: Yvonne, what is bringing you to Shenzhen?

Yvonne: I come here because we have an Opus One Dinner that we are going to do in March 22, 2013 in the Langham, Shenzhen, the newly open beautiful hotel.

Brent: Could you give a little bit background on wine and winery and explain it to the audiences and those who are not familiar with Opus One?

Yvonne: Definitely. Opus One was founded by two main people – Robert Mondavi who is renowned Napa Valley vintner, and Baron Philippe de Rothschild who is the owner of the Chateau Mouton Rothschild. The main objective is to combine the great winemaking traditions and innovations of both families, to create an exceptional wine in the heart of Napa Valley.

Brent: How did this partnership come together, and when did it come together? 

Yvonne: It was an interesting story. In the early 1970s, Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi met for the first time in Hawaii and Baron Philippe proposed a joint venture. It took them a couple of years before the project finally went together. Baron Philippe invited Robert Mondavi to Mouton Rothschild. Within an hour, they put together the framework of their plan. 

Brent: How was the wine first received when it came on the market?

Yvonne: The first vintage made is the 1979. We didn’t release it officially till 1984 side by side with the 1980. At that time, we considered about the positioning of Opus One. The founders positioned it high. We released it not cheap at that time and the wine got received very well.

Brent: What the status of Opus One in Asia and in China? 

Yvonne: We have been working hard throughout these years. Our company has been visiting the Asian market since the late 90s. We celebrated the release of our 20th vintage in 1998 and we held vertical tastings and gala events in Tokyo and Hongkong. After all the work, including the wine tastings and travels we have made, the market is understanding more by the day to Opus One. Every time when we go out and do wine tastings with customers, we share the efforts of what we are doing at the winery that makes this bottle of good wine.

Brent: Could you talk about the vintages that are available in China?

Yvonne: The more common vintages you can find on the market are the early 2000 and the late 2000, and they are drinking very well now.

The eariler vintages were made by two winemakers – Tim Mondavi, the son of the Robert Mondavi and Lucien Sioneau who was the winemaker of Mouton Rothschild. In 1985 Patrick Leon took over after Lucien Sionneau’s retirement.

Since 2001, we have got our own winemaker and his name is Michael Silacci. He was trained in making wines in Bordeaux but also made wines in Oregon, California. Now he is making our wines.

Our wine is very elegant and smooth to drink. Opus One is very well balanced between tannins and spice and fruits. For those who prefer softer tannins, less on the spice and softer on the fruits, they can go for the wine that is about 8 to 10 years old or even older.

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Brent: In China, it seems it has become fashionable to invest in wine.  What about investing in Opus One?

Yvonne: Personally our wines are always a collector’s item. Different from those wines that rise prices vary significantly, our wines have a stable value. Despite the fact that later vintages will not be easily available, prices have never gone crazy high. People enjoy Opus One and don’t resell it.

Brent: People can get Opus One in the Langham, Shenzhen.  Are there any other places that people can drink your wine in Shenzhen?

Yvonne: Premium hotels, high-end wine retail shops and most of the perfessional wine bars would be serving Opus One. We are considered as a premium wine.

Brent: I hear the Opus One vineyard is a pretty impressive kind of a chateau in California. Can you talk about the vineyard and how to visit the vineyard?  

Yvonne: You can find information and photos on the Opus One winery website and book for a tour. In the Partner’s room, you can choose one or two vintages to taste. The winery, built with redwood and limestone in 1991, is influenced by California, French and Italian styles. Olive trees are planted along side. Every year, we have numbers of visitors.

Brent: Finally, could you talk more about the wine dinner that you are planning for March 2013?

Yvonne: We are very excited about the upcoming dinner. Both my CEO and VP of International Sales and myself will be attending. The Langham, Shenzhen has a great standard of luxury. I think, Opus One working with the Langham, the dinner will be amazing. Very interesting vinitages will be served there. Come and find out by yourself. I love to see some fans and those who are interested in Opus One to attend the dinner.


Interview by Brent Deverman; Edited by Vera Xie

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By: Vera Tse
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