With the release of the 1974 Insignia in the spring of 1978, Joseph Phelps Vineyards became the first California winery to produce a blend of the traditional Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot grape varieties of Bordeaux under a proprietary label. Considered innovative at the time, the Insignia name was selected to represent the finest available production in each vintage year, and became the first proprietary wine of California to place blending above either varietal or vineyard designation as a determinant of quality. It would not be followed until a decade later by the second such wine, Opus One, and Insignia has remained the benchmark of this category for over a quarter century.
Insignia is an opulent wine of concentration, complexity and structure, with a superb balance of finely tuned acidity and dense, velvety tannins. Cassis, liquorice and spice are abundant on the palate, with notes of eucalyptus and earth. The finish is sweet, elegant and extended.
|WS 91: Combines deep, ripe dark berry fruit with crushed rock, cedar and lead pencil notes, and the tannins have a green bitter edge. A step back in richness and complexity for Insignia, this is built for cellaring. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot and Malbec. Best from 2014 through 2024. 10,540 cases made. ÐJL,,RP: 90. This deep ruby/purple-colored offering is an elegant, medium-weight wine with sweet red and black currant fruit, dark cherry, loamy soil and foresty characteristics as well as ripe tannin. This should be an early maturing Insignia that evolves quickly, but positively over the next 10-12 years. ,
|Antonio Galloni / Vinous Media 95 Pts
A gorgeous, totally voluptuous wine, the 2009 Insignia bursts from the glass with exuberant blue and black fruit, grilled herbs, cloves and cassis. In 2009, the Insignia is silky and polished, yet there is considerable underlying tannin that needs time to soften. Layers of fruit flow effortlessly to the huge, structured finish. I imagine the 2009 Insignia will enjoy a broad drinking window. It is striking today, but also clearly has the stuffing to age for many, many years.
Steven Tanzer 94 Pts
Good deep ruby. Rich but youthfully stunted aromas of plum, currant, chocolate, licorice and mint. Then plush, fine-grained and sweet on the palate, with excellent fat and a loamy complexity to the flavors of blackcurrant, dark chocolate and graphite. This has evolved nicely since I tasted it a year ago from barrel. In a distinctly generous style but structured for a long life in bottle. Finishes with gripping, tongue-saturating tannins and terrific chocolatey length.
|Wine maker notes
|Grapes from each vineyard are vinified in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, in contact with the skins, over an average period of 21 days. After malolactic fermentation, the blend is assembled within six month of harvest and aged approximately two years in new French oak barrels. The wine is then given a light filtration before bottling.