Joseph Phelps Insignia 1996
Bordeaux Red Blends from Napa Valley, California
This problematical growing season made it necessary to employ a rigorous selection process in the assembly of the final Insignia blend in order to maintain quality. As a result, production is approximately half of the '95 vintage and availability of this wine is extremely limited.
At this stage in its development, the wine displays aromas of ripe black fruit, spice and hints of new oak, along with intense fruit flavors, sweet tannins and a long, textured finish.
The Wine Advocate - "Aged 22 months in 100% new French oak, this blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon and 17% Merlot reveals a powerful core of red and black fruits, dusty, loamy soil, lavender and a hint of toast. I would not describe it as elegant, but rather, it is a big, backstrapping, Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine..."
Wine Spectator - "Fresh, with herbal dill and currant aromas, this is fresh and concentrated on the palate. Intense, with vivid currant, anise, herb and cedar notes. Ends with a complex aftertaste, firm tannins and good structure."
International Wine Cellar - "Deep, dark ruby. Black raspberry, cassis, chocolate, minerals and spicy, toffeed oak. Sweet, lively and very ripe, with almost port-like black cherry, licorice and shoe polish flavors supported by solid acidity. Finishes long and firm, with chewy tannins. This has more obvious structure than the sweeter, rounder '95.
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Joseph Phelps Vineyards
Joseph Phelps Vineyards is a family-owned winery committed to crafting world class, estate-grown wines. Founded in 1973 when Joe Phelps purchased a former cattle ranch near St. Helena in the Napa Valley, the winery now controls and farms nearly 375 acres of vines on eight estate vineyards in St. Helena, the Stags Leap District, Oakville, Rutherford, Oak Knoll District, Carneros and South Napa Valley. In 1999, the Phelps family added 100 acres of vineyard property near the town of Freestone on the Sonoma Coast, where Phelps now grows Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Phelps is best known for its flagship Napa Valley blend of red Bordeaux varietals, Insignia, first produced in 1974. Awarded Wine Spectator's "Wine of the Year" in 2005, Insignia is widely regarded as a qualitative benchmark for California winemaking. View all Joseph Phelps Vineyards Wines
About Napa ValleyView a map of Napa Valley wineries
It's hard not to think of Napa Valley when thinking of California wines. The region is, after all, the one that brought world recognition to California wine making. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux Blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Notable FactsWithin the Napa Valley lie smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two is St.-Helena and finally, just granted an AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap and Mount Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
About CaliforniaIt's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
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