2006 Joseph Phelps "Backus" Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The single vineyard 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Backus Vineyard from the Oakville Corridor is a monster. A 1,100-case blend of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Petit Verdot and Malbec, it is bursting with aromas of charcoal, scorched earth, barbecue smoke, lead pencil shavings, graphite, cassis, blackberries, and oak. Dense purple to the rim and very closed, this is a big, muscular, full-bodied effort meant for serious long-term aging. Its potential is extraordinary, but I wouldn’t want to touch a bottle for 5-8 years. It should last for three decades or more. (RP)
*Cellar Selection* Not the greatest Backus ever, and not in the league of the 2001 and 2005. More akin to the 2000. But shows the power and superb tannin development of this fine Oakville vineyard. Nearly 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, it’s flamboyant in blackberry, black currant and cedar flavors, with a grip of mineral or graphite. Should age quite well at least for the next 12 years, gradually losing tannins and gaining sweetness.
*Two Stars* Richness and ready extract come at the cost of real toughness here, and, while never a wine of worry, this very dense, deeply draughted, tannin-framed youngster struggles a bit to show the curranty, black soil and olive-like complexties that lie at its heart. Its best lies well in the future, but its pedigree is clear even now, and if sure to show better five years down the line, it looks to be one that will grow for ten or more.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Bright ruby. Superripe aromas of cassis, graphite and mint. Sweeter and more aromatic in the mouth than the Insignia, showing a finer-grained texture and more early finesse. A rocky character and enticing violet perfume lift the middle palate, but the substantial tannins currently cut off the wine's finishing fruit. This will need patience.
Wine & Spirits
If you love late '50s Cadillac convertibles, here's your vinous equivalent: It has the scent of fine leather, a hint of tobacco (didn't everyone smoke in the car back then?), that top-down, sunny warmth and the gravity of a steel frame. For now, the tannins are extreme, cushioned by a creamy richness and the block of dark, licorice-like fruit. This is grown at Phelps's estate vineyard in Oakville, a west-facing plot that rises from the valley floor to a plateau in the foothills of the Vaca Range. Most of the 21 acres of cabernet were planted in 1998, with four dating to 1975; all of it has been farmed under biodynamics since 2004.