2010 Joseph Phelps "Backus" Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
(includes 2% petit verdot; the oldest vines here are in the process of being replanted): Bright medium ruby. Restrained, mineral-driven aromas of cassis, bitter chocolate and espresso, complicated by nutty oak. Sweet, pliant and concentrated but in a more masculine style than the Insignia, offering good verve to the thick flavors of black fruits and chocolate syrup. This big boy finishes with substantial tannins that coat the front teeth. Very tight from the recent bottling and tricky to taste today. For fear of making wines with excessively tough tannins, winemaker Ashley Hepworth doesn't do much post-fermentation maceration for Backus and is now vinifying with some whole berries 93+ (ST)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon Backus Vineyard (100% Cabernet Sauvignon) achieved nearly 15% natural alcohol, and is aged 24 months in 100% new French oak. It has Pessac-Leognan-like aromas of charcoal, scorched earth, creme de cassis, and a distinct loamy soil/earthy character as well as minerality. Full-bodied, powerful and masculine with mouthstaining levels of extract in addition to mouthwatering levels of tannin, this 2010 needs to be forgotten for at least a decade, and drunk over the following 30-40 years. It could be a 50-year wine. (RP)
"Winemaker Ashley Hepworth has done a fabulous job with these new releases," Antonio Galloni wrote for Wine Advocate. "While most of the attention at Phelps centers around the flagships Insignia and Backus, over the last few years I have been equally impressed with the straight Cabernet Sauvignon, a wine that delivers tremendous bang for the buck. In addition to these wines, I also tasted a few Syrahs from the 1970s. Today, Phelps is known for their Cabernet Sauvignons, but it is also worth remembering Joe Phelps was the first grower to introduce Syrah to the Napa Valley several decades ago."