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Joseph Phelps Insignia 2005

Bordeaux Red Blends from Napa Valley, California
  • CG97
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  • WS92
14.5% ABV
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4.4 8 Ratings
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4.4 8 Ratings
14.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

The initial blend assembled in April of '06 was quite reticent. Not until early ‘07 did the wine "blossom" in barrel showing amazing depth, texture and vibrant fruit qualities. Deeply colored, concentrated and layered, with floral, anise, black cherry and graphite aromas, this wine is classically structured with excellent acidity, well-balanced tannins and a mouth-staining, persistent finish.
Only shipping discounts can be applied to this product, other promotional discounts do not apply.

Critical Acclaim

All Vintages
CG 97
Connoisseurs' Guide
92% Cabernet Sauvignon; 7% Petit Verdot; 1% Merlot. This year's version of Insignia is a stunning wine that vies for very top honors of the vintage. Its utterly enveloping aromas of perfectly ripe currants, creamy oak and dried violets are followed up in the mouth with wonderfully extracted, carefully proportioned Cabernet flavors that go on and on. The wine is lush yet solidly structured with a fine sense of balance and tannin right where it should be, and, as good as the wine will be in its youth, it will be better yet with age.
RP 95
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Since 2004, 100% of the Bordeaux varietals used in the Insignia proprietary blend have been from estate vineyards. The beautiful, dense ruby/purple-tinged 2005 Insignia (a 12,500-case blend of 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, and 1% Merlot) possesses sweet aromas of black cherries, cassis, chocolate, camphor, and a subtle hint of roasted herbs. Medium to full-bodied and elegant, with a European style imposed on the rich, velvety, California fruit, this cuvee will benefit from several years of bottle age, and should easily keep for three decades.
WE 95
Wine Enthusiast
This is not a wine for tonight, or next year, or for at least the next six years. It's shut down in tannins, with an astringency that can't be overcome even with decanting, although that won't stop people from opening it before its time. Buried beneath the tannins are well-developed black currant, roasted meat and cedar flavors that define upscale Napa Cab. Really fine and distinguished, a wine to cellar and enjoy for many years.
W&S 94
Wine & Spirits
This vintage of Insignia is primarily Cabernet Sauvignon (92%), blended with small amounts of Petit Verdot and Merlot, sourced from Phelps's estate vineyards in Rutherford, Stags Leap District, south Napa and St. Helena. For now, it's a sleek wine, with black currant flavors equal to a substantial presence of oak. The tannins are superripe and luxurious; they gain detail with air, becoming more mineral while allowing a fresh scent of roses to come forward. Accessible now for its richness, this will yield more complex pleasures with ten years of age.
WS 92
Wine Spectator
Smooth, supple and complex, offering wonderful aromas and serving up a range of herb- and mineral-laced currant, black cherry, blackberry, sage and pebble notes. Ends with a clipped edge. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Merlot.
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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.

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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.

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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.

LHM96082_2005 Item# 96082