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What to cook with a gorgeous 94 Opus One?

I've been saving a 1994 Opus One. The time has come to share it, so I want to do it justice and make sure my dinner is up to snuff. I was considering going the "steakhouse" route and splurging on some dry-aged bacon-wrapped filets and making some creamed spinach, but though yummy, it seems a bit pedestrian. Anyone have a divine menu suggestion to really showcase the wine?
thanks, diablita

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  1. I like the beef route, but I would not do bacon wrap filets. According to my butcher, the only reason they use bacon is to add flavor to the beef. I would go Prime Porter House or NY Strip.

    Bring Mortons to your home.

    1. I was worried that you were going to cook with the opus.

      1. If it was me i would do the dry aged sans bacon. I would not want too many flavors getting in the way of that wine. As to the Porterhouse or Ny strip, Porterhouse almost always gets an overdone filet side and NY strip is well... not as good as a rib eye with a big cap.

        1. this has your finest roasted prime rib roast written all over

          1. Diablita, There is an excellent recipe for Beef tenderloin coated with coffee and a chili reduction in the new Saveur.
            It should be a great fit.

            1. I'd do a nice dry-aged bone-in prime rib roast.

              If I didn't have the money for that, I'd do dry-aged steaks, or a simple pot roast.

              I don't really want anything else with an elegant old cab.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Alton Brown on the food network website goes through the process of aging your own rib roast in your fridge and a long, slow roast with high heat at the end to crisp it. Jus made with sage, you could use some decent "lesser" cab for that. When we followed his instructions we had the juiciest, most perfect rare prime rib imaginable, without paying someone else to dry age it. Should be perfect, meat plus sage to bring out all the qualities of the cab..

              2. Beef is good. Whatever cut/preparation, try and sear it a bit in a very hot pan first. Then use a bit of the wine (1/2 glass or so) in making a quick pan sauce out of the fond. Will help with the pairing. IMO, the Opus ia bit single dimensional, and the the depth of a pan sauce will enhance the pairing greatly.

                1. if you don't want to go the steak route--i'd do brown food-- lamb shanks, short ribs-- something rich, with some depth.

                  1. First, that wine has such amazing quality that you might want to have nothing with it. It could be the centerpiece of the evening all by itself. Maybe precede it with some bready crackers and brie (or any other unobtrusive cheese), pass around glasses of water, then have the Opus, and then move on to dinner. You can bring the wine's remainder to dinner, but have the first tasting or two sans food. Over dinner, crack open a younger wine (I recommend the Caymus 2001 cabernet to follow: it will continue well, but definitely won't overshadow the memory of the Opus).

                    As for dinner, like everyone else, I think a delicious steak, medium rare, will pair best with your Opus. Go easy with the preparation: steak with heavy garlics and/or onions might normally be delicious, but you don't want something that will foul your nose or tastebuds worse than can be purged with water. Salt, pepper, butter, even a little soy sauce are all fine here, in my opinion.

                    Do not cook with the Opus, not even a drop. Criminal suggestion.

                    It may sound pedestrian, but a meaty, fatty hamburger or cheeseburger really brings out wine. Some french fries don't hurt either. Won't do for a fancy dinner, but there you go. My wife and I paired cheeseburgers from P Terry's (absolutely delicious!) with bottle of Silver Oak and were impressed. I recommend this route.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: tom in austin

                      A simple hamburger is as good as a non-dry-aged steak, it's true. Some of my most memorable cabs were drunk with burgers.

                      I don't think older cabs are nearly as enjoyable without food, and the claret style was evolved to go with British beef. If you were going to pair one with cheese, I'd go for reggiano, a classic savory to bring out when you've finished the beef but are still working on the magnum or jeroboam or nebuchadnezzar.

                      1. re: tom in austin

                        I must disagree with the rapturous review of '94 Opus. It is a decent wine, perhaps a Very Good wine, but not much more. Of course it is a wine that is in the upper echelons of wines, but nothing like what many think. I've had every vintage of Opus made and while the '94 was a good one - it was a good vintage in Napa... For me Opus has alwasy been vastly overrated. The suggestion for the '01 Caymus is OK. Again not a bad wine, but certainly far better available for the price. My assumption is that the poster was recommending the Caymus Special Selection Cab vs. the regular one... and the Spec Sel '01 is truly tight and shut down now, so not really ready to drink.

                        All that being said, I'm sure that you will really enjoy the Opus and good beef is a great accent for it. I would do a small pan sauce though, it really does help these fruit heavy, jammy Cal-Cabs, and the enjoyment factor does increase.

                        1. re: woojink

                          I would tend to trust someone who has had every vitage of Opus, as I have only had several. Woojink is a more reliable advisor than me.

                      2. A nice piece of medium rare steak would go very well with the '94 Opus One.

                        Imho, I wouldn't pair a cab by a good producer in a good vintage with a hamburger.

                        1. I Completely agree with woojink that the Opus One with just few exceptions (Vintages 1980, 1996, 1997), is one of the most over-rated, over priced wines out of California. I regret to say that the 1994 probably be past its prime already, making the pairing question a waste of time, probably best to find a better wine to drink with all the wonderful grilled meat suggestions in this thread!
                          IMHO the only long living wines Cali makes: Dunn, Togni, Diamon Creek, and Ridge. The rest is history.

                          1. Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. In the end, we decided to drink the wine on its own with some toasted nuts and brie. With much fanfare, we opened the bottle only to be a thoroughly underwhelmed by the wine. It was still very tannic and thin on flavor. While we didn't decant it beforehand, we swirled and swirled and swirled it in our glasses trying to find something positive to say. It was merely okay, not anything I'd be clamoring to have again. I have had some Opus in the past that made me understand all the hoo-ha. But this particular bottle was nothing special--all talk, no action.

                            In case you're at all interested, we did end up having some big, fat filets that we grilled and served with a yummy wild mushroom ragout I made with sauteed shallots, mushrooms, lots of butter and a reduction of whatever red wine (a syrah from the always awesome Ridge) was left over from the night before. We had some luscious zin from Limerick Lane with our dinner and were fat and happy afterwards.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: diablita

                              Interested to hear about your Limerick Lane, I'm sitting on a bottle of 01 that I picked up in wine country about three years ago. Good to know that it went well with your menu.

                              1. re: diablita

                                Sorry about your negative Opus experience. VERY surprised to hear that the tannins are still overwhelming in that wine 12 years later. Actually, my recollection of that vintage, was that the tannins were a bit soft. Actually, what you may have tasted was serious tightness in the wine. I've had bottles of Opus take SEVERAL hours to open up. Decanting is almost always a must. The thinness you describe may have been part of this. Also, there has been an alarming tendency of late to see that most cal-cabs have not been nearly as ageworthy and originally hoped for. With very few exceptions, my wine collector group is finding that medium aged cal-cabs are peaking surprising early and not holding as nearly as long as we thought. In several discussions with folks in the wine biz and wine makers, it is pretty evident that a fair amount of extraction and manipulation is occuring in the making of heavy cal-cabs to drive fruit forward in the taste, creating an aging dilemna for some.

                                All that being said, I have to agree that Opus is generally overrated, and am very happy to hear that you enjoyed the Zin with some syrah reduction. If you like syrah... try some aged Hermitage... IMO, the best expression of the grape.

                                1. re: woojink

                                  Unfortunately, had a recent experience in that early peak you mentioned with a bottle of 1995 Shafer. Granted, it was a NV not a Hillside Select, but we probably should have enjoyed it several years ago. Real disappointment.

                              2. Woojink, would you mind elaborating on some of the Hermitage that you referred to? TIA

                                1. My favorite Hermitages are the Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage la Chappelle and several of the Chave Hermitages. These can and do get a bit pricey, but they are generally Very Good to Excellent in most vintages and oftentimes get SPECTACULAR in great vintages. Let's not forget the great stuff that comes from Chapoutier, they call it Ermitage. Again pretty consistent, and the great years are legendary. Now you can get some of the stuff listed above for well under $100, but others can be $250-$500 or even more. Again, I've had many vintages of many/most of the offerings above. Really great stuff.

                                  Please note, if you're not familiar with old world syrah, these will taste enormously different from syrah made in California and radically different from Australian shiraz. Many of these wines, can be drunk young, but my experience is that the best experiences are from bottles with some age. This experience can and will be Highly Vintage Dependant.

                                  1. Ah OPUS !!! A culinary fare to match the true features of this would be to serve along side a seared breast of duck maybe a little smoking ,in tradition something from the earth should be served with product enhanced from the earth ,if this finds suitable to your desire contact me and I shall complete your menu.
                                    chef ub

                                    1. Here's a few options:

                                      1) Prime Rib

                                      2) Roast / grilled lamb or lamb kebabs

                                      3) Grilled cheddar steakburgers

                                      Steaks also work but I like prime rib with a great cabernet even more.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Chicago Mike

                                        Just to expound on the above a bit...

                                        1) Include your favorite mushrooms in your dish. An earthy mushroom sauce on the side for your meat dish is great with cabernet.

                                        2) Be sure to have a "cheese course", and include 5 of the very greatest matches with cab: Parmesan Reggiano, "real" italian provolone (not the "tube cheese"), Gouda, Chevre, and an aged cheddar.

                                        In fact you can include any of the cheeses above in your recipe. How about a mushroom/parmesan sauce... or shave some parmesan on your steaks...

                                        Also be sure not to spare freshly cracked black pepper on the dishes....

                                        All these flavors are just awesome with cabernet.