$PHLP

2018 joseph phelps, insignia, napa valley (3L)

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Why We're Buying

Investing in 2018 Joseph Phelps Insignia means investing in history. First released in 1978, Insignia was California’s first blend of traditional Bordeaux grapes released under a proprietary name. (Up until this point, most California wines were a mix of low-quality mission grapes and field blends.) Phelps’ meticulous craftsmanship and uncompromising standards were met with widespread acclaim. In 2005, Insignia even won Wine Spectator’s “Wine of the Year.” The 2018 vintage continues the tradition of excellence in classical style. Cassis, black currants, graphite, tobacco, and cocoa unfurl from the nose with the full body and regal structure evoking first growth Bordeaux. Add in balance that rivals that of Simone Biles, and it’s easy to see why wine critic James Suckling praised the vintage as “one of the best Insignias ever.” The Final Sip: Own a piece of history that holds its own against modern heavyweights.

Critics Scores

JEB DUNNUCK
97

Jeb Dunnuck

Very much in the style of the vintage with its pure, concentrated, yet also elegant and focused style, the 2018 Insignia offers up a vivid purple hue to go with lots of red and blue fruits, menthol, tobacco, graphite, and distinct minerality. With an almost Bordeaux-like style, medium to full-bodied richness, present tannins, and a great finish, it's a beautiful, classic Cabernet Sauvignon blend from this team that's going to benefit from 4-5 years of bottle age and keep for two decades or more.

ROBERT PARKER'S WINE ADVOCATE
97

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

The 2018 Insignia is a blend of 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc. The vineyard sources this year include: 30% Las Rocas (Stags Leap District),18% Yountville (Oak Knoll District), 13% Banca Dorada (Rutherford), 18% Suscol (South Napa Valley), 14% Home Ranch (St. Helena), 12% Las Rocas (Stags Leap District), 7% Barboza (Stags Leap District). It was aged for 24 months in 100% new French oak barrels. Deep garnet-purple colored, it comes storming out of the glass with powerful notes of blackcurrant cordial, stewed black plums and boysenberries, plus hints of cedar chest, graphite, menthol and wet slate with a fragrant waft of clove oil. The medium to full-bodied palate already demonstrates remarkable balance at this youthful stage, featuring a firm backbone of fine-grained tannins and bold freshness to support the tightly wound, crunchy black fruits, finishing long and spicy. - Lisa Perrotti-Brown

JAMES SUCKLING
99

James Suckling

Blackberry and black chocolate with mint, conifer and clove. Sweet tobacco, violets and flowers, too. Some graphite. Cool and complex. Full-bodied with ultra fine, dusty tannins and a wonderful, extremely long finish. Savory and refined. A classic-styled 2018. This needs time, but is so approachable and gorgeous. One of the best Insignias ever. Alive and changing all the time. 40% Stags Leap AVA. 87% cabernet sauvignon, 8% petit verdot, 3% malbec and 2% cabernet franc. Leave this for five or six years, but so wonderful now.

WINE SPECTATOR
94

Wine Spectator

This is richly layered, with cassis, crushed plum and blackberry puree flavors moving through slowly but steadily, while warm earth, ganache and black licorice notes follow along. Picks up a tarry edge on the finish as the fruit takes an encore. For fans of the muscular, fruit-driven style. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2022 through 2036. — J.M.