2009 Joseph Phelps "Insignia" Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

SKU #1112130 96 points Connoisseurs Guide

 It is quite clear by now that 2009 is proving to be a standout year for Cabernet, but within the crowd of outstanding wines, this one holds its head just a bit higher. It is, as Insignia always is, a wine of exceptional crafting and polish, and yet in this outing, it seems to have an extra measure of richness and fruity strength, not to mention plenty of grippy structural tannins. There is an almost brooding aspect about it that suggests that it is not yet even close to showing all that it has, and it looks very likely to be among the more age-worthy and longest lived Insignias of recent years. Bravo! *Three Stars*  (12/2012)

96 points Wine Enthusiast

 This wine continues a long-standing tradition, showing a mastery of the art of blending. It's made using grapes that are sourced from at least six vineyards scattered from Yountville to St. Helena. Right out of the bottle, it's a soft, smoothly tannic wine that's rich in blackberry jam, black currant, blueberry, raspberry, dark chocolate and spice flavors. The wine, which contains small amounts of Petit Verdot and Malbec, is so powerful, it easily carries the 100% new French oak. Just gorgeous now, and it should develop bottle complexity for at least the next 10 years.  (12/2012)

93 points Vinous

 Bright dark ruby. Rather brooding aromas of cassis and licorice. Very young, even a bit medicinal today, conveying intense black fruit and chocolate flavors and an element of thickness leavened by fresh acidity. This extremely primary wine finishes very long but strongly tannic, with its finishing fruit currently dominated by its spine. This wine was easier to taste upon its release in late 2012 and still needs a lot of time in the cellar. The winery started doing longer maceration in 2008 and 2009, said Hepworth, who also told me that there was heat in September but that the fruit in many spots was not fully ripe when four inches of rain fell in mid-October. Insignia, however, was made with fruit that was in by then. Phelps rushed to pick in Suscol owing to some mold growth but declassified the affected fruit. 'In 2009 we learned not to wait too long to pick,' said Hepworth, who rates 2009 and 2011 the trickiest vintages since she took over winemaking responsibilities in 2008. (ST) 93+  (4/2016)

91 points Wine Spectator

 Combines deep, ripe dark berry fruit with crushed rock, cedar and lead pencil notes. A step back in richness and complexity for Insignia, this is built for cellaring. (JL)  (10/2012)

90 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

 This deep ruby/purple-colored offering is an elegant, medium-weight wine with sweet red and black currant fruit, dark cherry, loamy soil and foresty characteristics as well as ripe tannin. (RP)  (11/2013)

Jancis Robinson

 Opaque ruby. Juicy, pure fruit with a luscious berry character. Scented spice from oak is quite apparent, but not overdone. Firm, ripe tannins give firm structure. A very good impression of Bordeaux, from the right bank, perhaps? 17.5/20 points (RH)  (11/2013)

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Price: $169.99
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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 Médoc 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.


- 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.
Specific Appellation:

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.