Joseph Phelps Vineyards is a family-owned and operated wine estate with vineyards and wineries in Napa Valley and on the western Sonoma Coast. The winery was founded in 1973 by Joseph Phelps, a successful construction executive and entrepreneur whose early interest in wine led him to establish vineyards on a 670-acre former cattle ranch in Napa Valley. Over the next 42 years Joe became one of the most respected figures in the California wine industry, building Joseph Phelps Vineyards into a critically-acclaimed winery internationally known for its iconic wines and unwavering commitment to quality.
In 1974 Joe Phelps had the idea to make a separate cuvee each year, one that would represent the finest wine he could make from each vintage. He didn’t necessarily think it would always be a Cabernet Sauvignon. It might be a white wine in some years, a Chardonnay or a Riesling, or it might be a Syrah or Merlot. His only thought was to make one wine that represented the best of what Joseph Phelps Vineyards could produce each year. He decided to name the wine Insignia, a proprietary name that would give him the flexibility to make the wine out of any varietal he chose.
As it happened, 1974 was a great year for Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley and the 1974 Insignia was 94% Cabernet from the Stags Leap District. The following year Merlot dominated the blend, and in 1976, it returned to Cabernet, this time from the Eisele Vineyard. It was becoming increasingly clear that red Bordeaux varieties – particularly Cabernet Sauvignon - were ideally suited to Napa Valley and would consistently yield the best wines of the vintage. From 1977 on, Cabernet Sauvignon was never less than 50% of the Insignia blend and gradually became the dominant varietal. Joe’s vision evolved: Insignia would always be a proprietary red Bordeaux-style blend.
Over forty years later, Insignia is recognized as one of the world’s most iconic wines. The 2002 vintage was awarded “Wine of the Year” by Wine Spectator magazine in 2005 and Robert Parker Wine Advocate has awarded four perfect 100-point scores to the 1991, 1997, 2002 and 2007 vintages of Insignia.
“Joseph Phelps was one of the great visionaries of Napa Valley. His legacy is one of extraordinary quality. He was one of the first to see the merit in blending, which his legendary Insignia, which first debuted in 1974, has proven year after year. It remains one of the world’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated blends.”
Robert M. Parker, Jr.
Blend: 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec and 3% Cabernet Franc from estate-grown Napa Valley vineyards: 29% Las Rocas Vineyard (Stags Leap District), 23% Suscol Vineyard (South Napa), 20% Yountville Vineyard (Oak Knoll District), 18% Barboza Vineyard (Stags Leap District) and 10% Home Ranch Vineyard (St. Helena).
Ageing: 24 months in 100% new French oak.
Harvest dates : 25/09/2018 - 29/10/2018
87% - Cabernet Sauvignon
8% - Petit Verdot
3% - Malbec
2% - Cabernet Franc
99/100, James Suckling: Blackberry and black chocolate with mint, conifer and clove. Sweet tobacco, violets and flowers, too. Some graphite. Cool and complex. Full-bodied with ultra fine, dusty tannins and a wonderful, extremely long finish. Savory and refined. A classic-styled 2018. This needs time, but is so approachable and gorgeous. One of the best Insignias ever. Alive and changing all the time. 40% Stags Leap AVA. 87% cabernet sauvignon, 8% petit verdot, 3% malbec and 2% cabernet franc. Leave this for five or six years, but so wonderful now.
97+/100, Lisa Perrotti-Brown: Deep garnet-purple colored, it comes storming out of the glass with powerful notes of blackcurrant cordial, stewed black plums and boysenberries, plus hints of cedar chest, graphite, menthol and wet slate with a fragrant waft of clove oil. The medium to full-bodied palate already demonstrates remarkable balance at this youthful stage, featuring a firm backbone of fine-grained tannins and bold freshness to support the tightly wound, crunchy black fruits, finishing long and spicy.
96-98+/100, Jeb Dunnuck: A blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, and the rest Malbec and Cabernet Franc, the 2018 Insignia will spend the usual two years in new French oak barrels. It sports a vivid purple color as well as super classic notes of cassis, crushed violets, fruitcake, and gravelly, earthy minerality. Rich, full-bodied, and concentrated, it has stunning purity of fruit, ripe, present tannins, and a great finish.