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84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 3% Cabernet Franc and 1% Malbec
The 2016 Insignia is fresh and focused on entry with expressive cocoa powder, graphite and earthy spices. Elegant and complex with a supple, creamy texture and bold tannins, this latest vintage offers luscious ripe plum and blackberry character with hints of roasted coffee and dark cherry throughout the palate to a long, velvety finish.
Deep garnet-purple colored, the nose is a little reticent to begin, needing a fair bit of coaxing to reveal beautifully beguiling notions of wild blueberries, warm blackberries, black currant cordial, cloves and cedar chest with nuances of camphor, yeast extract, charcuterie and candied violets. Medium to full-bodied, the palate has fantastic elegance and depth, revealing loads of subtle floral, black fruit and earthy layers with a firm, very finely grained texture and seamless freshness, finishing with epic length. 13,400 cases were made.” (LPB) (1st Nov 2019)
COMMENTARY: No matter how many Cabs or clarets I taste in my lifetime, the Joseph Phelps Insignia always stands at the head of the class. It is one of the wines amongst a handful of others that I place in that proverbial “desert island” category. The 2016 vintage is magnificent. TASTING NOTES: This wine is complete. Its lovely aromas and flavors are impactful and wonderous on the palate. Enjoy its rush of bold, ripe black fruits, and earth with a grilled, well-marbled ribeye topped with minced shallots. (Tasted: February 20, 2020, St. Helena, CA)
Lovely density and intensity with dark berries, blueberries and inky undertones with hints of spice, chocolate and walnuts. Medium to full body, fine tannins and a flavorful finish. The texture and length are fantastic here. Complex. Hints of smoky wood at the end. This needs three to five years more in bottle age. Exciting wine. Try after 2022. (5/2019)
This is a lengthy, powerful blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot and 3% each of Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Together they coalesce as one seamless, complex experience of black currant, brambly berry and black pepper, with accents of graphite, pencil and cedar. Robust in tannin and youthful energy, it will benefit from aging. Enjoy 2026-2031. *Cellar Selection*” (VB) (11/2019)
Is the 2016 Insignia the next 1997? Coming mostly from the Stags Leap region, with the rest from the Home Ranch, this deep purple-colored beauty offers a magical bouquet of crème de cassis, fruitcake, forest floor, tobacco leaf, and toasted spices. It shows even more complexity with time in the glass and is a full-bodied, powerful, ageworthy example of this cuvée that’s going to benefit from 4-5 years of bottle age and keep for 25+ years or more.
“The 2016 Insignia is fabulous. Dark and powerful in the glass, the 2016 pulses with a sense of vibrancy that is impossible to miss. Even with all of its energy, the 2016 is understated and nuanced, especially next to the vintages that surround it. Today, the 2016 is a bit less expressive than it has been in the past, and yet all of the elements are in place for it to develop into an exquisite wine. (AG) (12/2018)
84% Cabernet Sauvignon; 10% Petit Verdot; 3% Malbec; 3% Cabernet Franc. We may well be accused of being monotonous and even a bit biased in the perennial praise that Insignia earns in these pages, but we would remind that we evaluate every wine blind, and, when all is said, tasted and done, Phelps’s flagship bottling is special, very sophisticated stuff and once again claims a place at the very head of the class. It is complex, it is polished and it is extraordinarly deep with an unsurpassed fusion of fruity richness and grace, and if, as usual, it shows the integral tannins of a wine destined to be very long lived, those short on patience and used to savoring young Cabernets cannot fail to find it other than irresistible even now.
The nose is fruity, elegant and offers power, density and complexity. It reveals notes of ripe cassis, ripe blackberry and small notes of small blue berries associated with touches of wild raspberry, cherry as well as hints of violet, rose wood and liquorice stick/tea. The mouth is fruity, mineral, fresh, well-balanced and offers a good definition, gourmandize, a slight acidulous frame as well as density/richness. In the mouth this wine expresses notes of fleshy cassis, fleshy blackberry and small notes of crushed red berries associated with fine touches of cherry as well as hints of cornflower, lily and blueberry. Good length and persistence. Tannins are elegant, structuring and offer a fine chew.
Made by longtime winemaker Ashley Hepworth, Joseph Phelps ‘Insignia’ is a blue chip stock in the Napa Valley. The wine – first made in 1974 – was the valley’s first proprietary ‘Bordeaux blend’. It comes from non contiguous estate vineyards, mostly on the valley floor and lower hillsides. Insignia has a certain old fashioned character. The 2016, a bit oaky at first, is also packed with juicy, dense, sweet berry flavours, plus notes of tobacco and graphite. More than many Insignias when they are young, the 2016 already possesses a wonderful thick softness and length. Drinking Window 2022 – 2045 (KM) Inner quote mark (10/2019)
This vintage of Insignia accurately reflects the cooler year, and the result is a lifted, energetic showing of this yardstick Napa Valley wine – a blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec and 3% Cabernet Franc. Aromas of raspberry compote, black cherry and fresh violets seamlessly transition onto the palate, joining succulent liquorice and cigar box spice. The finish is impressively expansive and lingering. While decidedly modern in style, it is done with a deft touch.
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