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Joseph Phelps Insignia (3 Liter Bottle) 2004

Bordeaux Red Blends from Napa Valley, California
  • WE97
  • RP95
  • WS94
  • ST93
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Winemaker Notes

The 2004 vintage marks the first time Insignia has been blended entirely from estate-grown fruit - the fulfillment of a dream that has taken many years to realize. The low-yield vintage produced a wine with syrupy blackberry and blueberry aromas married with seductive spice, followed by velvety tannins, roundness in the finish and outstanding texture, all of which are superbly integrated.

Critical Acclaim

WE 97
Wine Enthusiast

Tasted in October, 2007, the wine was mute, offering little aromatically except for teasing notes of blackberries and oak. That shyness extended to the taste, where strong, hard tannins provide an almost impenetrable coat of armor to what’s inside. But right down the middle of the palate is a deep, intensely powerful stream of perfectly ripened cassis that’s all.

RP 95
The Wine Advocate

The 2004 Insignia (the first to be 100% from the estate vineyards) is a blend of 72% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, 12% Petit Verdot, and the rest Malbec. I had this wine several times in Napa, and it is a beauty. A flashy, exuberant style for Phelps, with dense ruby/purple color, a gorgeous nose of creme de cassis, incense, licorice, smoke, and spice, the wine has supple tannins, a flamboyant, full-bodied mouthfeel, and tremendous length. Despite its precociousness and up-front style, this wine should evolve easily for 20 or more years. There are 10,000 cases of the 2004.

WS 94
Wine Spectator

Tight and complex, with a deep, potent core of ripe currant, herb, sage and dusty berry fruit, shaded by light toasty, cedary oak. Deftly balanced, intense and concentrated, this is young and closed in now, yet you can taste the depth and richness. Tannic. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Best from 2010 through 2020. 9,000 cases made.

ST 93
International Wine Cellar

($200; cabernet sauvignon with 14% merlot, 12% petit verdot and 2% minerals) Bright ruby-red. Complex nose melds cassis, black cherry, lead pencil and cedar. Sweet and fat but with a firm structure and very good vinosity. There's a sappy quality to the currant, cedar and chocolate flavors. Boasts the density of the vintage's best examples but, in comparison to the Backus, the tannins hit the palate a bit earlier. The very long finish hints at cedar and graphite. I'd put this aside for a couple of years.

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Joseph Phelps

Joseph Phelps Vineyards

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Joseph Phelps Vineyards, , California
Joseph Phelps
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.

Friuli-Venezia Giulia

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The source of some of Italy’s best and most distinctive white wines...

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The source of some of Italy’s best and most distinctive white wines, Friuli-Venezia Giulia is where Italian, Germanic, and Slavic cultures converge. This is represented in the styles and varieties of wines produced in this region of Italy's far north-east. Often shortened to just “Friuli,” the area is divided into many distinct subzones, including Friuli Grave, Colli Orientali del Friuli, Collio Goriziano, and Carso. The flat valley of Friuli Grave is responsible for a large proportion of the region’s wine production, particularly the ubiquitous Pinot Grigio and the popular Prosecco. The best vineyard locations are often on hillsides, as in Colli Orientali del Friuli. In general, Friuli boasts an ideal climate for viticulture, with warm sunny days and chilly nights that allow grapes to ripen slowly and evenly.

In Colli Orientali, the specialty is crisp, flavorful white wine made from indigenous varieities like Friulano (formerly known as Tocai Friulano), Ribolla Gialla, and Malvasia Istriana. Red wines, though far less common here, can be quite good, especially when made from the deeply colored, rustic Refosco variety. In Collio Goriziano, which continues into Slovenia, many of the same varieties are planted. International varieties like Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc are also common, but they tend to be Loire-like in style with herbaceous character and mellow tannins. Carso’s star grape is the red Teranno, notable for being rich in iron content and historically consumed for health purposes. It has an earthy, meaty profile and is often confused with the distinct variety Refosco.

Pinot Gris/Grigio

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One grape variety with two very distinct personas...

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One grape variety with two very distinct personas, Pinot Gris in France is rich, round, and aromatic, while Pinot Grigio in Italy is simple, crisp, and refreshing. In Italy, Pinot Grigio is grown in the mountainous regions of Trentino, Friuli, and Alto Adige in the northeast. In France it reaches its apex in Alsace. Pinots both “Gris” and “Grigio” are produced successfully in Oregon's Willamette Valley as well as parts of California, and are widely planted throughout central and eastern Europe.

In the Glass

Pinot Gris is naturally low in acidity, so full ripeness is necessary to achieve and showcase its signature flavors and aromas of stone fruit, citrus, honeysuckle, pear, and almond skin. Alsatian styles are aromatic, richly textured and often relatively high in alcohol. As Pinot Grigio in Italy, the style is much more subdued, light, simple, and easy to drink.

Perfect Pairings

Alsace is renowned for its potent food–pork, foie gras, and charcuterie. With its viscous nature, Pinot Gris fits in harmoniously with these heavy hitters. Pinot Grigio, on the other hand, with its lean, crisp, citrusy freshness, works better with simple salads, a wide range of seafood, and subtle chicken dishes.

Sommelier Secret

Outside of France and Italy, the decision by the producer whether to label as “Gris” or “Grigio” serves as a strong indicator as to the style of wine in the bottle—the former will typically be a richer, more serious rendition while the latter will be bright, fresh, and fun.

NEDINSIGDMG_2004 Item# 119693

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