2013 Joseph Phelps "Insignia" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2013 Insignia (their 40th vintage) is a blend of 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot, and the rest Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. This wine is aged 24 months in 100% new French oak barrels, and the production can vary from just over 10,000 cases to nearly 20,000 cases in a very abundant vintage. There were 12,300 cases produced in 2013, and this vintage of Insignia is certainly going to turn out to be one of the great ones. The wine offers a stunning inky blue/purple color, a gorgeous nose of blueberry and blackberry liqueur, pen ink, graphite, new saddle leather and barrique. The wine has fabulous concentration, a full-bodied, multi-layered mouthfeel, and tremendous finish with moderate tannin. It’s interesting to note that the Phelps winemaking staff had been gradually reducing the amount of Merlot in this wine over recent vintages. The 2013 should hit its peak in 5-7 years and last for 35-50. 98+ (RP)
*Editors' Choice* The mighty Insignia shows a vibrancy of purpose and craft in this, its 40th vintage, combining 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot, 3% Malbec and 1% Cabernet Franc. Together they find a higher calling of perfumed violet, dark plum and berry along with graphite and an edginess of dried herb. Firm, structured tannins show tremendous potential for aging and decanting. This is a nearperfect effort from a blockbuster vintage. (VB)
The 2013 Insignia is ripe, forward and explosive, with striking nuance and delineation throughout. Vivid and intense, but also showing admirable restraint, the 2013 is super-impressive. Twenty-four months in 100% new oak has really tamed what was once a powerful, almost over the top wine. Today, the 2013 is still closed and not fully formed, but it is shaping up to be a real gem. (AG)
Extravagant aromas of crushed blackberries, mint, eucalyptus and flint. Full body, round and velvety textured. Rich and flavorful finish. Lusciousness with form. Reserved palate. Very attractive now but better in 2020.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Black fruits and violet on the nose, complemented by spicecake and nutty oak. Boasts outstanding purity and density of fruit but the wine's superb sweetness is nicely controlled by its sheer juicy concentration and spice character. Conveys great inner-mouth tension owing to its firm acidity and strong underlying minerality. A terrific early showing considering the recent bottling, with a high-pitched floral element that contributes to the wine's weightless impression. The tannins are beautifully integrated with the fruit but it's hard to imagine that this wine won't shut down at some point. The long, rising finish spreads out horizontally to saturate the palate. (ST)
Wine & Spirits
Insignia has been built as a regional blend since its first vintage in 1974, becoming an estate-grown wine in 2004. It’s based on Cabernet Sauvignon grown in six vineyards, from Suscol in the south to sites in Oak Knoll, Stags Leap and Rutherford, up to Phelps’s Spring Valley Home Ranch in St. Helena. Ashley Hepworth has fine-tuned the style, so Insignia is still a rich wine, but now, especially in 2013, shows the kind of firmness of structure that makes the richness profound. This vintage is fresh and lively, even while it is dense and powerful, as if the power is coming out of the black raspberry fruit as well as the bright, sparkling-fresh mineral tones of the tannins. Delicious now if you give it several hours in a decanter, this is destined to evolve into a classic.
*Two Stars* If its first aromas are a little reluctant when first poured, there is no such hesitance as the nose opens over time and reveals deep, rich, layered notes of red and black currants, hints of olives and cola and background notes of creamy, slightly caramelly oak. The wine is certainly on the full side in palate weight and its supple, almost decadently open impressions on the palate could be taken for slight excess. But it is never weighty or overdone at any point and, indeed, is impeccably balanced both in its underlying acidity and in the way that its not unsubstantial tannins are well-suited to the overall depth and continuity on display from first to last. Like its predecessors, it might seem to encourage drinking up in its early years, but we would strongly caution against that siren lure and, instead, suggest a six to ten year wait in the cellar while its full potential is realized.
Rich and full-bodied, but exhibiting the lift of a brighter red. The dark berry flavors give this an elegant mouthfeel and ease the tannic strength. Tempting now but worth cellaring. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2018 through 2032. (JL)