2010 Joseph Phelps "Insignia" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Pre-Arrival)
Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 2010 Insignia is striking. Cool, mineral notes frame a core of blue and black fruit, licorice, spices, smoke, and melted road tar as this stunning wine opens up in the glass. Totally alive in the glass, the 2010 captures the essence of this cold, late harvest. Hints of menthol, violets and crushed rocks all flow through to the incisive, vibrant finish. My sense is that the 2010 is still holding back much of its significant potential. The 2010 is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot and 2% Malbec. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2030. Winemaker Ashley Hepworth has done a fabulous job with these new releases. 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.
Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
(85% cabernet sauvignon with 10% petit verdot, 3% merlot and 2% malbec): Bright, deep red. Captivating violet lift to the aromas of cassis, minerals, bitter chocolate, licorice and sexy oak; I would have guessed this had a good deal of cabernet franc. Then extremely primary on the palate, but already showing a seductive sugar/acid balance. Boasts lovely clarity and lift to its dark fruit, minerals and bitter chocolate flavors. Finishes with a serious brace of tongue-dusting tannins and outstandingly subtle, juicy persistence. A brilliant showing considering it was bottled just a month prior to my visit: eight or ten years in the cellar may well bring an even higher score. A year ago, I preferred the 2009, but this evolved beautifully during its final months of elevage. Director of winemaker Damian Parker always destems the fruit but typically ferments with some whole berries.