Joseph Phelps Insignia 2012
Joseph Phelps Insignia is one of the most sought after Cabernet-based reds made in America. Founded in 1972, Joseph Phelps Vineyards is an independent, estate-based winery located outside of St. Helena. Perched on a knoll in Spring Valley, the graceful redwood winery overlooks vineyard-studded hills, the town of St. Helena and the Mayacamas Mountains to the west. After years of studying the complex relationship between wine quality and place, and understanding the importance of 'terroir', Phelps has developed estate-owned vineyards in the premiere growing regions of Stag's Leap, Rutherford, Oakville, Oak Knoll and the eastern foothills of Napa, as well as in Sonoma.
The 2012 is a blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 10% Merlot, 3% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc from 100% estategrown Napa Valley vineyards in Stags Leap District (17% Barboza Vineyard and 10% Las Rocas Vineyard), Napa Valley (22% Suscol Vineyard), St. Helena (18% Home Ranch Vineyard), Oak Knoll District (18% Yountville Vineyard) and Rutherford (15% Banca Dorada Vineyard).
Wine AdvocateThe flagship wine of the estate in reds is their Insignia, which has been one of the great Bordeaux blends made in California since the debut vintage in 1974. It usually has 30+ years aging potential, even in lighter vintages, of which the 2012, 2013 and 2014 are decidedly not. The 2012 Proprietary Red Insignia, a final blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot and the rest Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc all from estate vineyards, was aged 24 months in 100% new French oak. There are 15,000 cases of it, and it's a fabulous, classic Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. Inky purple to the rim, with notes of lead pencil shavings, incense, camphor, blackberry and creme de cassis, the wine is full-bodied, offering a multi-layered, textural, skyscraper-like mouthfeel, terrific purity, density and richness. All of this is achieved without a sense of heaviness or anything aggressive. This is a beauty to drink now and over the next 30 years.
Wine EnthusiastIn this vintage, the producer's beloved blend is a commingling of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc. Two years in new French oak give it a youthful, tannic nature around smoky black cherry, burly leather and full-bodied richness and concentration. Further time in the bottle should coax out the blackberry and cherry; cellar through 2027.
Wine SpectatorPacks a wallop, perhaps overly so, with extracted dark berry flavors and tannic muscle. The drying sensation on the finish distracts from the ripe blackberry, earth, cedar and gravel notes. Aromas of cassis, currant and blackberry offer more promise. Either way, this is built to cellar. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2017 through 2030. 15,000 cases made.