ITEM 16686

1993 Joseph Phelps Vineyards Insignia Napa Valley


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bordeaux blend

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joseph phelps vineyards


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Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: 95 points

As I reported last year, the 1993 Insignia is one of northern California's most impressive wines. While this vintage seems to suffer from a slight degree of irregularity, there is no shortage of profound Cabernets. For example, the 1993 Insignia possesses a dense, almost opaque ruby/purple color, as well as a huge, sweet nose of blackcurrants, fruitcake, spice, and vanilla. This classic, rich wine, with a sweet, ripe mid-palate, displays a full-bodied, layered, super-concentrated personality. Although still a baby in terms of development, it is remarkably successful because of the ripe tannin, high glycerin, and intensity of fruit. It will easily last for two decades, although I suspect most of it will be consumed within 7-10 hours of purchase. When speaking of great red wines, what about the succession of exceptional Insignias Phelps has produced since 1991? How much fun well-heeled collectors will have comparing the 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994, and 1995, and probably the 1996, in 10-20 years. The early line on these wines is spectacular, as all of them possess outstanding potential. The 1993 and 1994 Insignias appear to have an edge on the 1995, but I imagine the 1995 will perform more strongly with another 6-12 months of barrel age.Regardless of the value and quality of the Vin de Mistral wines, it is unlikely Joseph Phelps will ever shake its reputation as being first and foremost a high quality producer of Cabernet Sauvignon. Some of the greatest California red wines were made at this winery during the seventies, wines that remain reference points today. Consider for example, the 1974 Insignia, 1975 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa, 1975 Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele, 1976 Insignia, 1977 Insignia, and 1978 Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele - all splendid California red wines that have aged effortlessly as well as gracefully. The vintages of the nineties offer the potential for wines that will equal if not eclipse some of those legends.Joseph Phelps' winemaker, Craig Williams, was enthusiastic about the potential quality of the 1996 vintage, and at the same time, lamented the fact that yields were down once again, with production for the Cabernet Sauvignon off 10%-25% from the relatively modest yields of 1995. As I have indicated in past issues, this winery has been on top of its game since the 1991 vintage, turning out a bevy of top-notch Cabernets, along with their increasingly popular Vin de Mistral wines. Current and upcoming releases continue to reflect a commitment to high quality and innovative thinking.Tel. (707) 963-2745; Fax (707) 963-4831

Review Date: 12/1/96