Simply a stunning bottle of Chardonnay, rich in texture and packed with flavors of lime blossoms, fresh Granny Smiths and poached Golden Delicious apples. The Wine Advocate says it “delivers intense stone fruit and mineral flavors with superb grace.” Don’t miss this one, one of the highest-rated Chardonnays of the vintage.
Joseph Phelps has long been one of Napa Valley’s stalwarts. For more than 30 years, they have been a pacesetter for critically acclaimed wines. As Robert Parker wrote of their flagship red, 'The Insignia cuvée has been one of Napa’s great Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines since its inception in 1974' and Wine Spectator observed that Phelps is 'one of Napa Valley's benchmark Cabernet Sauvignon producers.' Their focus is on world-class standards, top growers and meticulous cellar triage with Insignia seeing only the best components each year. Phelps has a web of vineyards that would make any winemaker excited to go to work. The winery has been working exclusively with estate-owned fruit sources since 2004, and their specific sites are exceptional. They know every nuance of the land and can conjure magic and bottle thunder. And as evidenced by the press for the 2008 Insignia, Phelps’ continued march towards exclusively estate-owned vineyards is paying handsome rewards.
The Chardonnays are all barrel-fermented in puncheons and barrels, and go through 100% malolactic. The 2015 Chardonnay Pastorale Vineyard has a gorgeous nose of orange blossoms, ginger and allspice over a core of ripe peaches, apple pie and pink grapefruit plus a waft of cedar. Medium-bodied with a seductive satiny texture, it delivers intense stone fruit and mineral flavors with superb grace, finishing long and multi-layered.
Youthfully wound up yet fleshy, this wine slowly opens to reveal a sense of crispness, wet stone-like minerality and a taste of fog from the nearby Pacific Ocean. Apple skin, Meyer lemon and key lime flavors provide upfront freshness; toasted oak and almond qualities add substance and weight.
The 2015 Chardonnay Pastorale Vineyard is a little bit brighter in style than the Freestone tasted alongside it. White orchard fruit, green pear and mint are nicely pushed forward. Most of the wine was fermented and aged in 500-liter barrels, which helps preserve freshness, energy and tension. A slightly reductive note on the finish reinforces an impression of vibrancy. This is superb stuff.