Joseph Phelps Insignia 2002
Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, California
Wine Spectator's #1 Wine of 2005!
The 2002 Insignia is full of black cherry jam and allspice aromas, with luscious notes of boysenberry, ripe plums, toasted oak and tobacco. The exceptionally elegant mouthfeel coats the palate with layer after layer of tannin, followed by a lengthy, textured finish containing sweet oak notes and a hint of blackberry.
78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 7% Petite Verdot and 1% Malbec primarily from estate-owned vineyards in Stag's Leap and Rutherford, with additional fruit coming from independent growers.
Wine Spectator - "Rich flavors fan out, the way you hope for, coating the palate with layers of currant, fresh earth, mineral, cedar, tobacco, mocha, black licorice and espresso. The tannins are firm and the structure built for a longer haul. Very much in its infancy still at age 10, it finds that unusual bridge between dense Napa fruit and a Bordeaux build. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec."
The Wine Advocate - "The 2002 Insignia (a blend of 78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 7% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec) is performing even better than it did post-bottling. A cross Napa County blend of some of their finest vineyard sources, it offers a super-sweet nose of creme de cassis, charcoal, incense, cedar and forest floor, full body and silky tannins. It is one of the few Napa Cabernet Sauvignon blends that is world-class, capable of 30+ years of cellaring, and made in abundant quantities (between 8,000-15,000 cases). I remember tasting the 1974 Insignia in the late 1970's and stating that it would need to be drunk in its first 5-6 years of life. Wrong. That wine, which is now 38 years of age, is still a beauty!"
International Wine Cellar - "Ruby-red. Sexy aromas of black raspberry, cedar, coffee, tobacco and bitter chocolate. Lush and smooth on entry, then dense and juicy in the middle, with intense, layered, sharply delineated dark berry and dark chocolate flavors saturating the entire palate. A powerful wine that is already quite expressive. Builds impressively on the back half, showing superb extract and a sweet finishing flavor of dark chocolate. This is consistently one of California 's very few great cabernet-based wines that is not from a single vineyard. Williams ranks this '02 with the winery's top recent vintages: 2001, 1999, 1997, 1994 and 1991."
Wine & Spirits - "A luscious vintage of Insignia, this '02 has the sleek feel of fine Napa Valley cabernet. There's fragrant red berry and forest-floor character at the center of the wine, then blacker currant flavors and tannin softened by luxurious oak in the end. Touches of super-ripeness add to the richness without diminishing the wine's freshness."
Wine Enthusiast - "This celebrated wine is not mind-blowing right now. It's dry, oaky, tannic and soft. There's a wealth of cassis and moo shu pork flavors, and huge new oak. Yet it holds itself back, teasing but withdrawing into its tannic cloak. Collectors, be reassured it’s worth stashing."
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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 grated 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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Alcohol By Volume GuideMost wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
- Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
- Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
- Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
- Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.