During the production of Andy Garcia's 2005 film, The Lost City, about life in Havana before and around the time of the Revolution, there came a request to the Fuentes to allow the shooting of scenes to be set in a tobacco field on their vast farm, Chateau de la Fuente, home of the world famous Opus X wrapper leaf... Problem was, at the time shooting was to occur, the crop would have already been harvested, and there would be no plants to shoot among, thus destroying the beautiful mise-en-scène on which the entire sequence rests... Lucky for Mr. Garcia, he has been a friend of the Fuente family for a while, so they planted a special off season crop such that the plants would be the perfect size for the shooting date... Lucky for us, they harvested this crop, and aged it, and found it was pretty darn good, so they decided to roll some special Opus X cigars using this tobacco, and called it The Lost City line to commemorate this special off season growing and filming. As with all Fuente products the blend is pretty secretive, but it is obviously similar to the regular Opus X blend, but uses the off season crop grown for the film. Beyond that, I can find no details regarding the difference in blend. Due to the finite amount of tobacco harvested in that given year, this is obviously a limited production cigar, having now been released in the early winter of both 2009 and 2010 in quantities of several thousand boxes spread over seven vitolas. There seems to be disagreement regarding whether or not certain vitolas actually use the Lost City crop, or are simply double banded Opus X cigars in irregular vitolas (given that the Lancero and Love Affair are the sizes in question, and neither is a regular, large release Opus X vitola... The debate remains, though plenty of discussion and argument can be found on the subject on various Cigar forums).
The appearance of this cigar is nothing less than stunning. It features a variation on the infamous Forbidden band, black and coppery gold in color, with splashed red accents here and there, as well as a second band bearing the Lost City icon, as well as the line "Directed by Andy Garcia at Chateau do le Fuente, July 2004". The wrapper leaf itself is a dark, chocolate brown color, with less red than the normal Opus X Rosado wrapper. It also has a less sun-grown appearance, a slightly smoother texture than the regular Opus wrapper leaf. The pack seems great, with no soft spots, and a generally firm feel. It has only a few noticeable veins. The seams are tight and clean, and the triple cap is flawlessly applied. The body of the cigar has a powdery chocolate aroma to it, which reminds me very much of (yes, you can laugh) Cocoa Puffs cereal. The foot of the cigar gives a sweet woody character, with a touch of that same cocoa powder, and an overripe almost spoiled fruit aroma that I commonly find in good Dominican tobacco. The cap cuts very easily to reveal a lightly snug draw, and flavors of dry cedar, powdery cocoa, and leather, all very dry on the palate. There is also just a hint of spicy pepper on the tongue.
Lit at 2:40pm
Right away, after toasting and lighting, the flavor profile consists of a thick, oak wood flavor, that moves into some oily leather, and finishes with a long, slow, medium pepper that just gently smoulders at the back of the palate. The draw is a little tight, but not problematically so at this point. The burn looks good too, so far. Smoke production isn't anything to write home about, but it also isn't a problem or anything. The one thing I think every time I smoke one of these is how it feels like half the blend is regular Opus X, and the other half is a blend that delivers just a really thick, syrupy, dark, sweet oak wood flavor, which dominates. So far, that is holding true for this example. The ash through the first third is a brilliant, bright white color, almost completely solid, no breaks. It hold for well over an inch before falling as well.
Heading into the second third, the flavor profile has sort of thickened. The spicy pepper continues to make up the long, lingering finish, and the draw brings first a slightly tangy, bittersweet charred oak flavor. This is a departure from the "typical" Opus X profile, in that it has none of the cinnamon and fruit that I associate with the regular like. Instead this is a darker, both more bitter and sweeter cigar. The burn on this stick is perfect, almost razo sharp, and the ash is firm, again, holding over an inch at least each time it falls. The body and strength on this cigar are lighter than the regular Opus X. That isn't to say this is a mild cigar, it is full of flavor, and does have some strength to it, but it falls more in the medium-full area rather than the full on balls to the wall range you might expect. A bit over the halfway mark the draw suddenly opens up, and I am getting great mouthfuls of billowing, white smoke.
I think the strongest aspect of this cigar is the balance and way the sweetness plays off the bitterness, one after the other. The flavor profile is not overly complex, or subtle, but what it lacks on that front it makes up for in bold, defined character. A little past the band point some cinnamon joins the sweet oak flavor on the draw, which makes for a nice change to a profile that has otherwise been pretty much consistent.
Ended at 4:20pm for a total smoke time of an hour and 40 minutes, which for a toro is great, but I maybe was hoping for a longer burn given the price point on these cigars (actually, honestly, even if it burned for 24 hours straight and came with a bottle of Dom Perignon, it still might be a bit pricey). That might be a bit harsh actually, as the Lost City offers big flavors, in a well balanced package that definitely feels and tastes special, even if the blend isn't as complex or powerful as its regular production counterpart. For me these represent an interesting experiment in agriculture, and it is a success. For those looking for the high octane nicotine and spice punch combo of the Opus X, look elsewhere, Lost City is not for you. Lost City offers a smoother, darker, sweeter aspect of Chateau de la Fuente. What will really be interesting is to see how this particular vintage of tobacco ages over the next decade... Only time will tell.