The 2017 Insignia is one of those “once in a lifetime” wines that comes together so beautifully you start comparing every other wine to it. As memorable as those heady aromas of mocha, cedar and blueberry are, you won’t have to trust your recollections when you have a 6-pack to stretch out over the years, arriving in its own classic wooden box.
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 2017 Insignia is a blend of 94% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc coming from: 46% Las Rocas vineayrd (Stags Leap District), 22% Barboza vineyard (Stags Leap District), 13% Suscol vineyard (South Napa Valley), 10% Yountville vineyard (Oak Knoll District) and 9% Home Ranch (St. Helena). It was aged for 24 months in 100% new French oak barrels. Deep garnet-purple colored, it comes bounding out of the glass with exuberant scents of Black Forest cake, preserved plums and blueberry pie plus touches of redcurrant jelly, potpourri, clove oil and dark chocolate. Medium to full-bodied, the palate has gained weight from it's in-barrel offering, boasting rich, decadently perfumed black fruit preserves flavors with a racy backbone and velvety tannins, finishing long and spicy. 7,400 cases were made.
Tasted out of bottle, the 2017 Insignia is beautiful stuff that excels in the vintage. Revealing a dense purple color as well as stunning notes of crème de cassis, lead pencil shavings, tobacco, and earth, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a silky, seamless texture, building tannins, and a great finish. It has the more linear, elegant style of the vintage, yet it’s balanced, has ample concentration, and is just a gorgeous wine that will evolve for 30 years or more.
This is a soft and velvety red with blackberry and blueberry character. Some boysenberry, too. Hints of spice. Medium to full body, round and juicy tannins and a flavorful finish. Drink or hold. Better after 2021.
The 2017 Insignia is quite powerful and dense. Inky dark fruit, leather, spice, menthol, lavender and licorice all race out of the glass. After bottling, the 2017 is quite a bit more shy than it was from barrel. The 2017 was made entirely from pre-fire lots and naturally lacks the opulence the later picks would have added. If opened young, the 2017 will benefit greatly from aeration. In 2017, most of the fruit came from estate vineyards in Stags Leap.