2007 Joseph Phelps "Insignia" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
Aged 24 months in new French oak, this infant 2007 exhibits an inky/purple color along with notes of graphite, spring flowers and smoky oak. This full-bodied, classic Insignia reveals fabulous depth, ripeness, texture, viscosity and richness. Still young and unformed, it should evolve for 25 or more years. Perhaps I should just go ahead and give this 2007 a three-digit score as it is a profoundly great Cabernet Sauvignon-based effort. The production was 13,500 cases of this 100% estate fruit blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot and 4% Petit Verdot. The alcohol came in at 14.5%. The growing season was nearly ideal, with early bud break, generous flowering, a bountiful crop size, and summer weather that was warm and dry with no significant heat spikes. According to the Phelps winemaking team, the cluster grape weights in 2007 came in 23-45% lower than average, which surprised everyone. However, the fruit quality was one of the finest they had ever seen. The result is one of the top Insignias yet produced. (RP)
This year's Insignia builds on past success and is as always a sophisticated and exceptionally deep wine. Its extraordinary marriage of layered richness and finesse places it among the year's very best, and, while fit with plenty of young Cabernet tannin, it is even now a wine of real polish that seems to show a little more with each sip. It is a wine for collecting and saving to special occasions, and it will last if well-cellared for a decade or more.
*Collectibles* Firm, intense and concentrated, massive yet well-proportioned, with a dense, focused core of graphite, dried currant, blackberry, black tea, forest floor and blueberry flavors. Full-blown, finishing with rich, layered tannins that beg for cellaring.
Aromas of blackberry, leather, lead pencil, and flowers. On the palate this is dense and velvety, with a gorgeous texture. Agile and balanced, this is hard not to drink right now. The finish is long, with notes of coffee and dark fruits.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Bright ruby. Claret-like nose offers cassis, minerals, bitter chocolate and strong soil tones. Densely packed and quite tight today, in a classically dry style. But there's also superb sex appeal and excellent energy to the flavors of plum, currant, licorice, bitter chocolate and spices. Most impressive today on the long, chocolatey aftertaste. (ST)
*Cellar Selection* You have to count this as another great Insignia, dry and complex and ageworthy, although the tannins are fierce now, and it may lack just a bit of the glamor of, say, the 2004 or 2001. It’s certainly a big wine that floods the mouth with blackberry, black currant, cassis and new oak flavors. The tannins and acids make it aloof, resistant, tough. It wants time in the cellar.
Wine & Spirits
Phelps's top red wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (88 percent), Merlot and Petit Verdot, all grown at estate vineyards. Most of the fruit comes from the southern districts of Napa Valley—Suscol, a relatively cool site in South Napa, along with Stags Leap and Oak Knoll. That cool tone comes across in red currant flavors, in the quiet presence of a substantial wine. It's sleek with dark tannin that feels youthful and austere, hinting at a Christmas spice that predicts what holiday celebrations might be in store ten years down the line.
Vibrant cassis and black cherry fruit with a herbal note for complexity. Insignia is typically rich and opulent, though the 2007 is more focused and refreshing - delicious now and a good candidate for the cellar. 17/20 points.