Napa’s First Growth Is Our Wine of the Year
Out of the thousands of wines we tasted, the 2014 Joseph Phelps Insignia was our #1 wine of last year. Powerful and dense, the 2014 Insignia shows beautifully delineated black and red-fruit preserves, is creamy and rich with sturdy tannins, and calls for a long cellar life. We fully expect this wine to mature and gain such rich complexity as to warrant a perfect score. Why? The 97+ score from Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate is an indication that the score will likely be upgraded. Each Insignia that has earned a coveted Parker 100 points (1991, 1997, 2002) was upgraded—after time in the bottle. Insignia stands with Opus One as one of Napa’s most iconic Bordeaux-style blends and the current release is as Parker says, “another beauty.” $250 from the winery—or just $199.99 on Wine Access today.
Our relationship with the Phelps family dates back to the early 1990s, when we helped launch the 1994 vintage in NYC. Our allocations since have regularly disappeared in a flash. In the case of the stunning 2014 Phelps “Insignia,” the 41st vintage—which ranks among the four or five greatest Napa Valley wines of the year—it won’t last the day.
Its angular Old World structure has seduced international collectors and critics since the late California pioneer Joseph Phelps debuted the label in 1974. Ever since that offering, Robert Parker has shouted praise from the rooftops, posting six 100-point reviews (1991, 1997, 2002, 2007, 2012, and 2013 vintages) and declaring it to be “one of the world’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated blends.”
Clearly, The Advocate is aligned with our belief that this wine is only going to inch its way toward perfection. Why? This past October, The Wine Advocate upped the ante adding “1+” to the already glowing review, propelling the 2014 Insignia into 97+ point territory. “Incredibly elegant and fine in the mouth,” gushed the Advocate, while Antonio Galloni of Vinous called it, “a rich, explosive Insignia, the 2014 exudes pedigree,” and James Suckling praised its “beautiful depth and intensity” in his 97-point review.
In 2014, the Phelps team pushed the vines to the limit during the sunny yet mild growing season, forcing each plant to compete for water reserves by leaving cover crop untilled, delaying irrigation, and thinning clusters. The result of their relentlessness is a powerful, full-bodied blend that’s elegantly approachable. A modern classic that will gather power in the cellar for decades.
- Wine Access Wine Team