Joseph Phelps Insignia 2003
Bordeaux Red Blends from Napa Valley, California
With the release of the 1974 Insignia, Joseph Phelps Vineyards became the first California winery to produce a blend of traditional Bordeaux varietals under a proprietary name. Thirty vintages later, Insignia has remained one of Napa Valley's most highly acclaimed and sought-after wines. Originally sourced from the best available grower fruit, since the 1990 vintage Insignia has been produced primarily from estate-owned vineyards in the Stag's Leap District and Rutherford Bench – two of the most desirable sources for Cabernet Sauvignon in the world.
84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petite Verdot, 3% Merlot and 3% Malbec, primarily from estate-owned vineyards in Stag's Leap, Rutherford and St. Helena (87%), with additional fruit coming from independent growers (13%).
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Wine Enthusiast - "One of the first, if not the first, of the proprietarily named Napa Bordeaux blends, Phelps Insignia has been one of California’s greatest Cabs for decades. This is their 30th anniversary bottling, and it’s worthy of the tradition. Ultrarich and smooth, with a mouthfeel that’s pure velvet, it’s fairly thick in tannins now, suggesting cellaring. But it’s huge in blackberry, dark unsweetened chocolate and spicy plum fruit, and will easily hold for a very long time. Best now, if carefully decanted, and through 2020."
The Wine Advocate - "The 2003 has performed well in recent tasting, showing a dense purple color along with notes of creosote, lavender, flowers, creme de cassis, espresso roast, white chocolate and a hint of oak. Still in a young adolescent stage, it should drink nicely for another 15-20 years."
Vinous / Antonio Galloni - "Saturated bright ruby-red. Aromas of currant, black cherry, graphite, licorice, sweet butter and bergamot, accented by dried herbs. Juicy, spicy and still a bit youthfully tight but with lovely sweetness to its flavors of black cherry, licorice and flowers. Finishes with big tannins supported by the wine's depth. Less viscous than the 2002. This wine has always been tight but may be starting to turn the corner. Phelps stopped doing pad filtration in 2003 after getting rid of the brettanomyces in the winery (they started washing their barrels with ozonated water in 1999). Many vintages since then have been bottled unfiltered, noted winemaker Hepworth, adding that "we've never really employed fining, even in high-tannin years like 2013. We don't like what it does to mouthfeel." Rating: 92+"
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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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