Layers of ripe cassis and blackberry fruit on this wine's nose and palate are underscored by impressions of spice, clove and anise, with a lush, plummy fruit generosity supported by firm, well structured tannins.
Wine Enthusiast 91 points - Rich and concentrated in red cherry, cigar and plum, this demurely approachable and enjoyable wine has the legs to age. Structured and tightly drawn, it holds a tannic overbite that eases in the glass. Cellar through 2017.
Vinous 88 points - The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon is a picture-perfect example of the year. Dark blue and black fruits, smoke, licorice, spices, menthol and new leather flesh out in the glass. The 2012 is supple, racy and expressive, even at this early stage. This is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
Wine Advocate 89 points - The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, which comes from holdings throughout the valley, is a blend of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Merlot and tiny quantities of Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. In what was a generous vintage, yields were surprisingly modest at 2.5 tons of fruit per acre. The wine exhibits a deep ruby/purple color along with sweet, smoky blackcurrant, unsmoked cigar tobacco and forest floor characteristics. This medium-bodied, elegant, rich wine can be drunk now or cellared for 15+ years. (Oct 2014)
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The dark ruby-colored Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon resembles a classic Bordeaux both in aromatics and flavor. A rich bouquet of cinnamon, spice, licorice, graphite and caramel are followed by integrated layers of cherry, currant, fresh cream and balanced, sweet tannin, all of which contribute to a youthful, bright, multi-layered wine.
Wine maker notes
Though it takes a Cabernet Sauvignon designation, Phelps' Cabernet is typically blended with small percentages of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and/or Malbec for enhanced complexity. Grapes are harvested and fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks in contact with the skins, and aged an average of sixteen months in a combination of roughly 50% new French and American oak barrels and two- to four-year-old French and American oak barrels before being blended, lightly filtered and bottled.
In the late 60s, Joseph Phelps was running one of the largest construction companies in the U.S. when he won the bid to build Souverain Winery (now Rutherford Hill) located a few miles outside of St. Helena. Enamored with the beautiful Napa Valley and contemplating a career change, in 1973 he bought the 600-acre Connolly cattle ranch in Spring Valley, and began planting vineyards. The winery was completed in 1974 and that same year the first Syrah was made, the first grapes were crushed at the new facility and the first Insignia was produced. It was a period of unparalleled activity, creativity, ingenuity, entrepreneurship and risk-taking and it put Joe Phelps on the map of top Napa Valley wine producers.
Nearly four decades later, the flagship wine, Insignia, is recognized as one of the world’s great wines. Twenty nine of 34 vintages have been rated ninety or more points by various wine publications. The 2002 vintage was awarded “Wine of the Year” by Wine Spectator Magazine. Over the years, the goal of becoming 100% estate grown resulted in carefully planned acquisitions of prime vineyards in the Napa Valley. Today, the Phelps estate consists of the Spring Valley Home Ranch outside of St. Helena, Banca Dorada in Rutherford, Las Rocas and Barboza vineyards in Stags Leap, Yountville Vineyard in Oak Knoll, Suscol Vineyard in South Napa and Backus Vineyard in Oakville.