As two of the biggest names in the Napa Valley wine industry, Opus One and Caymus make highly sought-after “cult” Cabernet Sauvignon blends of outstanding quality. However, this is where their similarities end. When you compare Opus One vs. Caymus, there’s a clear difference in style and flavor—the former is heavily inspired by Old-World Bordeaux blends, while the latter is unapologetically New World in style.
For this reason, many wine lovers will have a clear preference for one producer over the other. In this guide, you’ll learn what the flavor differences are between Opus One vs. Caymus as well as the differences in value, age-worthiness, and collectability so that you can curate your ideal collection of great Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
Opus One vs. Caymus: Main Differences
The primary difference between Opus One vs. Caymus is that Opus One wines are more herbaceous than Caymus wines, which tend to be fruit-forward. Opus One tastes of earth, herbs, cigar box, and pepper. Caymus tastes of dark chocolate, cherry, tobacco, and baking spices.
However, beyond flavor, there are a few other differences between these producers, which you can see below.
|Producer||Aging Potential||Flagship Blend||Average Price|
|Opus One||20-30 years||75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 10% Merlot, 5% Cabernet Franc and Malbec||$420 per bottle|
|Caymus||10-15 years||100% Cabernet Sauvignon||$215 per bottle|
- Aging Potential
Opus One wines don’t taste as approachable in their youth as wines from Caymus. That’s because Opus One wines are specifically designed for long-term aging—their firm tannins and prominent acidity soften with time, making them delicious and very collectible with age.
While you can age Caymus wines too, they usually come to maturity earlier than Opus One, and they’re often more approachable shortly after release.
So, if you’re looking for a wine to lay down long-term or even resell for a profit, Opus One is often the better choice. But, if you’re looking for a wine to drink soon after buying it, try Caymus.
- Blends and Harvesting Techniques
Opus One is a Bordeaux-style blend, which means it’s made from a traditional blend of grapes that originated in that region of France. Like the First Growth producers of Bordeaux, Opus One’s winemakers handpick the grapes just after they ripen to preserve the fruit’s acidity. As a result, these wines are well-balanced, elegant, and fresh.
By comparison, Caymus’ flagship wine (called Special Selection) is made purely from Cabernet Sauvignon. To make its wines as ripe and concentrated as possible, Caymus leaves the grapes on the vine for a longer period of time before harvesting them. For this reason, the Special Selection label is sweeter and fuller-bodied than Opus One.
Collectors who enjoy blue-chip Bordeaux will likely prefer the taste of Opus One over Caymus. Or, if you’re a fan of big, bold California Cabernet, Caymus is an excellent choice, as it’s one of the most complex and flavorful wines being crafted today. Alternatively, many wine enthusiasts love variety and choose to collect both.
- Vineyard Location
Location plays a key role in the flavor of Opus One vs. Caymus. These wineries are located just three miles apart within the same larger region: the Napa Valley American Viticultural Area (AVA). However, they are located in different sub-AVAs of Napa with differing climates.
The Opus One winery is located in the western part of the Oakville AVA, which is a moderately warm subregion. Cooling winds from the San Francisco Bay give Opus One wines prominent acidity while warm air from the San Joaquin Valley allows the grapes to ripen fully. The result is a wine that has an excellent balance between acidity and sweetness and a complexity of flavor that is quite similar to wines made in moderately warm areas of Bordeaux like the Médoc.
By comparison, the Caymus winery is located in the Rutherford AVA, which has a warmer climate and faster-draining soils. As a result, Caymus wines are richer, riper, and more intense in flavor.
Why is there such a difference in price between Opus One vs. Caymus? It comes down to rarity.
Opus One produces about 25,000 cases per year and its flagship label is only made in years when grape quality is especially high. This increases the value of these wines. The flagship label is among the most collectible wines in all of Napa Valley and is highly sought after among investors.
Caymus’ wines generally aren’t worth as much as Opus One in part because these wines aren’t quite as rare. Caymus produces about 58,000 cases per year–more than twice as much as Opus One.
If you collect only the rarest wines in the world, then Opus One is your best option. However, if you’re looking for an exceptional wine to serve with dinner or to buy in larger quantities for a special celebration (like a wedding), Caymus is a great choice.
Of course, this only gives you a general idea of which producer you might prefer. To decide which wines you’d rather drink, do a blind tasting of the best vintages from each producer.
Comparing the Best Opus One and Caymus Vintages
Blind tasting is the best way to identify the wines that appeal most to you and to compare Opus One vs. Caymus on a level playing field. Consider tasting a variety of vintages from each producer, as vintages can vary significantly in flavor. For example, in Napa Valley, 2009 was a warmer vintage than usual and produced bolder wines, while 2013 was cooler and produced more high-acid wines. You can’t always get an accurate impression of a wine label from just one vintage alone.
If you’re ready to compare Opus One vs. Caymus, consider buying a few of the following vintages, which are known for being of high quality and for perfectly displaying all that these exceptional producers have to offer.
|Opus One Vintages||Caymus Vintages|
|2019 Opus One||2016 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection|
|2017 Opus One||2015 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection|
|2013 Opus One||2013 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection|
|2010 Opus One||2010 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon Special Selection|
|2009 Opus One||1983 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon|
Tasting these wines side-by-side really is one of the best ways to determine which you prefer. However, it’s not the only way. Below, you’ll find a few more useful tips on how to decide between Opus One vs. Caymus.
Choosing Between Opus One and Caymus
To decide which wine is right for you, it’s helpful to consider whether you usually prefer Old-World or New World wines. Collectors who love New World styles will likely prefer the fruit-forward taste of Caymus, while collectors who enjoy earthier notes will favor Opus One’s Bordeaux-style blends. However, keep in mind that while Opus One does taste more similar to classic Bordeaux than Caymus does, these wines still have a great deal of New World influence.
Why You Might Choose Opus One
Opus One is a great transition wine for people who normally only drink Old-World wines and would like to branch out into more modern California cult wines. Likewise, Opus One is a great option for collectors who usually only drink New-World wines and would like to explore more traditional styles. It straddles the line between the two worlds.
Opus One is also a better investment for collectors who want to resell their collections online or at auction. Its value often grows steadily over time, especially when you buy vintages young and keep them in professional storage for a decade or more. Opus One frequently ranks among the top-performing wines on the market every year.
Why You Might Choose Caymus
It can be easier to find Caymus in larger quantities on the marketplace compared to bottles of Opus One, so this is the better choice for big gatherings and dinner parties.
It’s also an all-around crowd-pleasing style of wine that should appeal to most enthusiasts. Its prominent red fruit notes will attract anyone who loves a bold wine, while its complex flavor profile will impress those with discerning tastes.
You can even resell a Caymus collection for a small profit if the bottles are stored under perfect conditions. While the resale value isn’t exceptionally high, sought-after vintages of the Special Selection label have more than doubled in value compared to their price on release.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, if you plan on drinking your wine, taste is the most important factor. The upside to being a collector is you never have to choose between Opus One vs. Caymus. In fact, having a few vintages from both producers gives you a taste of the full diversity Napa has to offer.
It’s also nice to have a variety of wines for different occasions. On days when you feel like sharing a rare bottle with someone special, the 2010 Opus One is the perfect choice. Or, if you have a big bash coming up, a few young bottles of Caymus will grab everyone’s attention. These producers may have very different approaches to Cabernet Sauvignon, but they are equally intriguing.
Wondering about Opus One vs. Caymus wines? Start your collection by visiting the Vinfolio marketplace. Whether you are starting your high-end wine collection or adding to an established portfolio, Vinfolio is your partner in buying, selling, and professional storage. Contact us today to get access to the world’s finest wine.