Joseph Phelps Red Bordeaux Blend Napa Valley Insignia 1997
The 1997 vintage presented one of the most challenging growing seasons in recent memory, yet produced some of the best red wines California has seen in decades. Early on, barrel tastings of the 1997 Insignia indicated color and flavor concentrations beyond the levels achieved in 1994 and 1995, and we consider those two years among the best in the last 25! After torrential rainfall in December and January, warm, dry weather through July initiated early budbreak, excellent fruit set, and veraison which was two to three weeks earlier than normal. Sugar concentrations were near desired levels by the end of July, and reports of a large crop surfaced as some wineries began to harvest in early August. (This was not a scenario that indicated high quality.) However, the weather made a dramatic change on August 8 as a major cooling trend brought fog, mild temperatures and half an inch of rain on the 19th. Finally, with the return of warmer weather in the third week of September, the crop achieved near-perfect ripeness levels and harvest began in earnest. At this stage in the wine's development, it continues to exhibit amazing color and concentration, as if it were half its age. With complex aromas of black cherry, plum, chocolate, currant and toasty oak, the wine displays layers of flavor and richness that disguise its power and longevity. Beautifully crafted and balanced, the 1997 Insignia reflects a new level of quality from both the vineyards and the growing regions. If we were to draw up a wish list of weather patterns for the ideal vintage, they would not resemble the above! Yet our 1997 Napa Valley Cabernet meets or exceeds every quality standard this same wish list would include. With its opaque color, concentrated, jammy aromas of black cherry, herbs and mocha, the wine reveals similar, satisfying flavors and a long, intricate finish.
[Steak] Consistent notes. However this--the 3rd or 4th bottle--just seemed better than the others. Looking forward to more.
[belated Christmas in NYC] Decanted for 3 hours. Deep purple color. Distinctive Insigna taste sweet fruit, liquor, gum, and smoke. On the palate, chocolate, red fruit, new oak, and smoke. Interestingly though it was remarkable for 3 hours. At the six hour mark, it morphed, being predominantly cola with some fruit; corroborated by others.
This was my introduction to Insignia and still holds a place in my heart. The blend really brings out the winemaker's artistry. Complex, fruity, balanced, and drinkable. This wine made lots of friends in Malta.
External Reviews for Joseph Phelps Red Bordeaux Blend Napa Valley Insignia
More floral aromas of black raspberry and clove. Supple and sweet on the palate; like the '96, juicy but not especially dense. Finishes with substantial but even tannins. 88-90 points Stephen Tanzer's IWC. A Cabernet Sauvignon wine from California in USA. 1997 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon 750ml
97 Points - Wine Spectator, 96 Points - Wine Advocate Dense, rich and focused, youthful and concentrated, with hints of maturity on the edge of the core currant, mineral and spicy berry flavors. Wonderful vibrancy and intensity for a wine this age, which only bodes well for the future. A classic. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot.--97 California Cabernet retrospective. Drink now through 2020.
97 Points "Dense, rich and focused, youthful and concentrated, with hints of maturity on the edge of the core currant, mineral and spicy berry flavors. Wonderful vibrancy and intensity for a wine this age, which only bodes well for the future. A classic. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot.--'97 California Cabernet retrospective. Drink now through 2020. 20,000 cases made." Wine Spectator, Web Only -2008, James Laube
...Supersweet aromas of blackberry, cassis, bitter chocolate, espresso and tobacco. Thick and seamless yet bright and sharply defined. Very long and spicy on the aftertaste, with excellent grip.Sweet tannins coat the teeth... Stephen Tanzer's IWC. A Proprietary Blend wine from California in USA. 1997 Phelps, Joseph Insignia Proprietary Red Wine 750ml
Joseph Phelps' flagship wine is their fabulous Insignia, a wine with a tremendous track record back to the debut vintage of 1974. It is produced in significant quantities (18,000-20,000 cases) for a wine of such quality. The prodigious 1997 Insignia (83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot, and 3% Petit-Verdot) lives up to its pre-bottling promise. Tasted on three separate occasions, every bottle has hit the bull's eye. The color is a saturated thick-looking blue/purple. The nose offers up explosive aromas of jammy black fruits, licorice, Asian spices, vanillin, and cedar. Full-bodied as well as exceptionally pure and impressively endowed, this blockbuster yet surprisingly elegant wine cuts a brilliant swath across the palate. A seamless effort with beautifully integrated acidity, sweet tannin, and alcohol, it is still an infant, but can be drunk with considerable pleasure. Anticipated maturity: now-2025