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Joseph Phelps Insignia 2013

Bordeaux Red Blends from Napa Valley, California
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14.5% ABV
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4.4 83 Ratings
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4.4 83 Ratings
14.5% ABV

Winemaker Notes

First produced from the 1974 vintage, 2013 Insignia marks the 40th vintage of our flagship Napa Valley wine. Deeply pigmented, the 2013 Insignia opens with heady blackberry and plum aromatics laced with baking spices, cardamom and espresso. Focused and fresh, this exceptionally concentrated wine showcases elegant tannin structure and a silky mouthfeel layered with dark fruit, sweet vanilla bean, cracked black pepper and bittersweet chocolate.

Blend: 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot, 3% Malbec and 1% Cabernet Franc

Critical Acclaim

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RP 98
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2013 Insignia (their 40th vintage) is a blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot, and the rest Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. This wine is aged 24 months in 100% new French oak barrels, and the production can vary from just over 10,000 cases to nearly 20,000 cases in a very abundant vintage. There were 12,300 cases produced in 2013, and this vintage of Insignia is certainly going to turn out to be one of the great ones. The wine offers a stunning inky blue/purple color, a gorgeous nose of blueberry and blackberry liqueur, pen ink, graphite, new saddle leather and barrique. The wine has fabulous concentration, a full-bodied, multi-layered mouthfeel, and tremendous finish with moderate tannin. It’s interesting to note that the Phelps winemaking staff had been gradually reducing the amount of Merlot in this wine over recent vintages. The 2013 should hit its peak in 5-7 years and last for 35-50. Rating: 98+
WE 98
Wine Enthusiast
The mighty Insignia shows a vibrancy of purpose and craft in this, its 40th vintage, combining 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot, 3% Malbec and 1% Cabernet Franc. Together they find a higher calling of perfumed violet, dark plum and berry along with graphite and an edginess of dried herb. Firm, structured tannins show tremendous potential for aging and decanting. This is a near-perfect effort from a blockbuster vintage. Editors' Choice.
WW 96
Wilfred Wong of Wine.com
Another outstanding Napa Valley wine from the superb 2013 vintage, the Joseph Phelps Insignia—a blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot, 3% Malbec, and 1% Cabernet Franc—shows up with a big-time performance. The wine exhibits exceptional ripe fruit flavors—black currants, cassis, and blueberries. The finish delivers endless pleasure and long-term cellaring potential. (Tasted: October 10, 2016, San Francisco, CA)
TP 96
Tasting Panel
The original proprietary Bordeaux-style blend produced in California (it debuted with the 1974 vintage) proves it’s still one of the best. Silky-smooth and mellow with deep, elegant favors of plum, spice, and toasted oak, it’s a complex, lovely classic.
JS 95
James Suckling
Extravagant aromas of crushed blackberries, mint, eucalyptus and flint. Full body, round and velvety textured. Rich and flavorful finish. Lusciousness with form. Reserved palate. Very attractive now but better in 2020.
W&S 95
Wine & Spirits
Insignia has been built as a regional blend since its first vintage in 1974, becoming an estate-grown wine in 2004. It’s based on cabernet sauvignon grown in six vineyards, from Suscol in the south to sites in Oak Knoll, Stags Leap and Rutherford, up to Phelps’s Spring Valley Home Ranch in St. Helena. Ashley Hepworth has fine-tuned the style, so Insignia is still a rich wine, but now, especially in 2013, shows the kind of firmness of structure that makes the richness profound. This vintage is fresh and lively, even while it is dense and powerful, as if the power is coming out of the black raspberry fruit as well as the bright, sparkling-fresh mineral tones of the tannins. Delicious now if you give it several hours in a decanter, this is destined to evolve into a classic.
WS 93
Wine Spectator
Rich and full-bodied, but exhibiting the lift of a brighter red. The dark berry flavors give this an elegant mouthfeel and ease the tannic strength. Tempting now but worth cellaring. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2018 through 2032.
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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.

RPT32160425_2013 Item# 155466