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Flat front label of wine

Joseph Phelps Insignia 2002

Bordeaux Red Blends from Napa Valley, California
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Winemaker Notes

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.

Critical Acclaim

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RP 100
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2002 boasts an inky/purple color along with notes of graphite, violets, blackberries, creme de cassis and hints of charcoal and barbecue in addition to a full-bodied, multilayered mouthfeel that builds incrementally with great purity, staggering fruit concentration, and a long, velvety, 50+-second finish. This prodigious effort should continue to drink well for 20+ years.
WS 96
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.
W&S 93
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.
WE 92
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

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 and tourism, the Napa Valley is the AVA that brought worldwide recognition to California winemaking. 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.

Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two are St.-Helena and the valley's newest 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 District, and Mt. Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more 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/or 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 can be bold and fruit-forward or restrained and earthy, while New World facsimiles tend to emulate the former style. In general, Bordeaux red blends can 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, the New World is free to experiment. Bordeaux blends in California may include Syrah, Petite Sirah, Zinfandel, or virtually any other grape deemed worthy by the winemaker. In Australia, Shiraz is a common component.

MMR84578_2002 Item# 84578