2010 Joseph Phelps "Backus" Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon

SKU #1155948 93 points 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)  (6/2013)

90 points 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)  (10/2013)

K&L Notes

"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."

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Price: $199.99

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Cabernet Sauvignon and Blends

- Cabernet Sauvignon has come a long way from its role as a blending varietal, however dominant, in the wines of Bordeaux. Today it is the most planted red varietal in the world. Identified as a descendent of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc, the late-ripening Cabernet Sauvignon needs to be planted in warmer climates to fully ripen. Its small berries can easily be identified for their distinctive blue color, thick skins and high tannins. And while the varietal has its own definitive characteristics: green pepper-like aromas and black currant flavors among them, it is perhaps most prized for its ability to convey terroir, vintage and winemaking. A relatively new varietal, Cabernet Sauvignon started making inroads into the wines of the M├ędoc and Graves in the late-18th century. Today it is also dominant in the up-and-coming Entre-Deux-Mers region of Bordeaux and can also be found in Southwest France. It is the companion varietal to Sangiovese in Italy's Super Tuscans and is planted all over Europe, stretching to lesser-known winegrowing regions like Russia and Lebanon. In the Americas Cabernet Sauvignon has found champions in every nook and cranny of California and among winemakers in Washington, where it complements plantings of Merlot. In South America, Cab thrives in Chile, but can also be found in smaller amounts in Argentina and even in Mexico.

United States

- When people consider domestic wine, they normally think about the state of California. The fine viticultural Region within California, including the Napa Valley, Sonoma, Santa Cruz Mountains, Mendocino and Santa Barbara, are capable of growing grapes of world-class quality. But there's plenty of fabulous wine coming from other states, too. Oregon, Washington and New York are also causing eyebrows (and glassware) to be raised around the world. Click for a list of bestselling items from the United States.


- With the explosive growth that California's wine industry has seen the past several years, it's easy to view winemaking and grape growing in the Golden State as a recent phenomenon. And while it's true that California's viticultural history is brief compared to several European countries, this state's roots date back well over 200 years. Due to the enormous response to California wine within the United States and worldwide, there are thousands of excellent and diverse wines being produced within the state each year. For our entire selection of California wines, please visit this link.
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Napa Valley

- America's most famous wine region, which encompasses a varied geographical territory running about 20 miles long from the San Francisco Bay northward to the foot of Mount St. Helena. Napa's great diversity, both in terms of climate and terroir, has led to the creation of a number of smaller AVAs like Stags Leap District, Rutherford, Howell Mountain, Oakville and Mount Veeder, among others. Cabernet and chardonnay still reign supreme, but just about everything under the sun is grown in Napa Valley, in quality levels ranging from $2 jug wine to $500 a bottle California cab.