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Joseph Phelps Insignia (1.5 Liter Magnum) 2014

Bordeaux Red Blends from Napa Valley, California
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0% ABV
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Winemaker Notes

The 2014 Insignia opens with expressive blackberry, cocoa powder, Bergamot and floral aromatics. Fresh and focused with concentrated black fruit, mocha, cardamom and Madagascar vanilla notes. Opulent and rich with supple tannin structure and balance.

Blend: 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc

Critical Acclaim

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JS 97
James Suckling
The blackberry, dark-chocolate and walnut aromas are persuasive. Full body, a dense and fruity center palate and beautiful depth and intensity. The tannin texture is exceptional. Great wine. Drink in 2020 and onwards.
V 97
Vinous
The 2014 Insignia is shaping up to be one of the surprises of the vintage. A rich, explosive Insignia, the 2014 exudes pedigree. A host of dark red cherry, plum and pomegranate notes make a strong first impression. Bright, vibrant aromatics add lift, while beams of salinity contribute to the wine's energetic personality. One of the interesting aspects of the 2014 is that there is no Merlot in the blend.
Range: (94-97)
RP 96
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Composed of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc coming from six vineyards and reared for 24 months in 100% new French oak, the 2014 Insignia Proprietary Red Wine has a deep garnet-purple color and nose of crushed blackberries and fresh blackcurrants with touches of cigar box, sandalwood, dried lavender, beef drippings and mocha plus a waft of wild thyme. Medium to full-bodied and incredibly elegant and fine in the mouth, the lively fruit is well structured by grainy tannins and seamless acid, finishing long and earthy. 14,500 cases were made.
Rating: 97+
WE 96
Wine Enthusiast
This fine vintage of Insignia combines 87% Cabernet Sauvignon with 9% Petit Verdot, 2% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc. Soft, supple and seamless, it offers rich but balanced cassis and milk chocolate flavors, with supportive and complementary oak. It should do well in the cellar and will be best from 2024–2034.

Cellar Selection

WW 96
Wilfred Wong of Wine.com
Always a wine on my radar screen, Joseph Phelps has produced a tannic one for the ages. The 2014 vintage rocks with superb black currants that are complemented with its oak treatment. Give this wine time in the cellar. (Tasted: October 30, 2017, San Francisco, CA)
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Joseph Phelps

Joseph Phelps Vineyards

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Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Napa Valley, California
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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.

Napa Valley

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One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production as well as tourism, the Napa Valley was responsible for bringing worldwide recognition to California winemaking. In the 1960s, a few key wine families settled the area and hedged their bets on the valley's world-class winemaking potential—and they were right.

The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980s, when producers scooped up vineyard lands and planted vines throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, and today Napa is home to hundreds of producers ranging from boutique to corporate. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Napa whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that claim specific characteristics based on situation, slope and soil. Farthest south and coolest from the influence of the San Pablo Bay is Carneros, followed by Coombsville to its northeast and then Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford. Above those are the warm St. Helena and the valley's newest and hottest AVA, Calistoga. These areas follow the valley floor and are known generally for creating rich, dense, complex and smooth reds with good aging potential. The mountain sub appellations, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs, include Stags Leap District, Atlas Peak, Chiles Valley (farther east), Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain District and Diamond Mountain District. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from a lot of time in the bottle to evolve and soften.

Bordeaux Blends

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One of the world’s most classic and popular styles of red wine, Bordeaux-inspired blends have spread from their homeland in France to nearly every corner of the New World, especially in California, Washington and Australia. Typically based on either Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot and supported by Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, these are sometimes referred to in the US as “Meritage” blends. In Bordeaux itself, Cabernet Sauvignon dominates in wines from the Left Bank of the Gironde River, while the Right Bank focuses on Merlot. Often, blends from outside the region are classified as being inspired by one or the other.

In the Glass

Cabernet-based, Left-Bank-styled wines are typically more tannic and structured, while Merlot-based wines modeled after the Right Bank are softer and suppler. Cabernet Franc can add herbal notes, while Malbec and Petit Verdot contribute color and structure. Wines from Bordeaux lean towards a highly structured and earthy style whereas New World areas (as in the ones named above) tend to produce bold and fruit-forward blends. Either way, Bordeaux red blends generally have aromas and flavors of black currant, cedar, plum, graphite, and violet, with more red fruit flavors when Merlot makes up a high proportion of the blend.

Perfect Pairings

Since Bordeaux red blends are often quite structured and tannic, they pair best with hearty, flavorful and fatty meat dishes. Any type of steak makes for a classic pairing. Equally welcome with these wines would be beef brisket, pot roast, braised lamb or smoked duck.

Sommelier Secret

While the region of Bordeaux is limited to a select few approved grape varieties in specified percentages, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include equal amounts of Cabernet Franc and Malbec, for example. Occassionally a winemaker might add a small percentage of a non-Bordeaux variety, such as Syrah or Petite Sirah for a desired result.

SWS475351_2014 Item# 319722