2005 Joseph Phelps "Insignia" Napa Valley Bordeaux Blend
***Three Stars and awarded "Wine of the Year" in 2008*** 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.
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.
*Cellar Selection* 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.
Wine & Spirits
This vintage of Insignia is primarily cabernet sauvignon (92 percent), 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.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
(92% cabernet sauvignon with 7% petit verdot and 1% merlot; bottled the month before my visit) Bright ruby-red. Highly complex nose melds currant, black licorice, lead pencil, mocha, bitter chocolate and fresh herbs. Deep and sweet in the middle, with juicy acidity giving shape to the concentrated, silky flavors of cassis and dark chocolate. This, too, is downright Bordeaux-like. Finishes with broad, lush tannins and excellent length. This has fleshed out nicely since I tasted it from barrel a year ago but should still be kept for a minimum of five or six years. 93(+?)
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. Best from 2011 through 2018
2005 "Insignia" blend and grape sources: 92% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, and 1% Merlot from estate-owned vineyards in Rutherford (30%), South Napa (22%), the St. Helena home ranch (17%) and Stags Leap District (Barboza Vineyard, 17% and Las Rocas Vineyard, 14%).