Today we are extremely excited to offer our inaugural release of Insignia, the famous Napa Valley Cabernet from the historic Joseph Phelps winery in California. Joseph Phelps’ Insignia is one of the truly great iconic Napa wines, capable of appealing to almost all wine lovers, embodying a Bordeaux style with Napa flair. In 2012 they have made one of their greatest ever wines, reflected in its potential 100 point score from Robert Parker.
The 2012, together with the 2013 vintage in Napa, both offer exceptional growing seasons, in particular 2012 saw no frost, perfect spring and summer temperatures. The top wines emerging will be considered all time classics, with parallels being drawn to the 2009 and 2010 vintages in Bordeaux. Parker claims, ‘Both vintages are clearly the two greatest years for North Coast Bordeaux varietals – and probably Chardonnay as well – since the wonderful duo of 2001 and 2002.’
Insignia is a true Bordeaux blend incorporating all five varietals, the 2012 Insignia is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 10% Merlot, 3% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc. Parker rated the 2012, 96-100 points and given the price, this represents amazing value for such a revered wine. The 100-point 2002 already retails for £1,500 per case of six bottles – if you are lucky enough to locate them! At £685 per case for the Insignia 2012, we think this is a fabulous opportunity not only for those who wish to consume this delicious California Cabernet, but for those looking to invest as well. At today’s first release price, a 96 point score would make the 2012 undervalued, however, the 2012 vintage is one of the greatest ever and we expect Parker’s final score to be pushing, if not 100 points, which will see the wine double in value.
Compare Insignia 2012 with the 100-point Screaming Eagle which retails for £4,900 per case of three or the 98-point scoring Scarecrow, which retails for £325/bottle and the Insignia is even more compelling; it is a high-end California Cabernet which doesn’t break the bank.
Founded in 1974 by Joseph Phelps, Insignia has become one of the most revered Napa wines, winning Wine Spectator’s #1 Wine of the Year in 2005. In fact, it is held in such high esteem by critic Robert Parker that last year, to mark the winery’s 40th anniversary, he visited the estate for an historic tasting of each Insignia vintage from 1974-2012, awarding the 1991, 1997, and 2002 vintages each a perfect 100 points points – proving that the best California Cabernets can stand the test of time. On his website, Parker reported on the tasting, noting that the event was, ‘one of the most historical vertical tastings I have ever done… I had the privilege of tasting every vintage from 1974 to 2012. This has always been a remarkable wine and sadly I am old enough to remember the 1974, to which I gave a great rating, but then suggested it be drunk within 10-12 years. I never thought it would last. Of course, it turned out to be one of the great mature wines of the vertical tasting…’
The critical acclaim and accolades are beyond anything founder Joe Phelps could have expected, or even desired for himself or his winery. Shy and introspective, Joe Phelps moved from Colorado to Napa in the late 1960s to help construct the former Souverain winery. Falling under the spell of Napa’s beauty, he decided to switch careers, plant a vineyard and build his own winery. Phelps’s estate was completed in 1974 in time for harvest. Released in 1978, the first vintage of Insignia was ground breaking for Napa Valley as up until then wines had generally been released as single varietals – Chardonnay or Merlot – or as California brands of dubious titles, such as ‘California Hearty Burgundy,’ rather than simply with a proprietary label such as ‘Insignia.’
Since 1974, Insignia has been produced in every vintage; in the early years Phelps purchased fruit from other independent growers but since 2004 100% of the fruit has come from his own estate. Joe’s son, Bill, now runs the winery, with Ashley Hepworth – a talented young winemaker who earned her stripes at Ch. Angelus in St. Emilion before working at Joseph Phelps – continuing the legacy of producing world-class wines and earning praise from both Robert Parker and Antonio Galloni.
Joseph Phelps Insignia 2012 – 6×75 – £685 IB or £836.76 incl duty and VAT
Robert Parker, Tasted October 2014, 96 -100 Points
‘Joseph Phelps’ flagship wines include the incredibly ageworthy Insignia. The 2012 Insignia Proprietary Red is composed of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 10% Merlot, 3% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc, all aged 24 months in 100% new French oak. The vintage was of such high quality and quantity that 17,500 cases were produced. A magnificent Insignia that will be bottled in several months, it boasts an opaque purple color as well as fabulous notes of graphite, blackberries, blackcurrant liqueur, camphor, barbecue smoke and spice box. Rich, full-bodied and opulent with plenty of tannin and structure lurking beneath the extravagant generosity of fruit, this stunning 2012 should drink well for 25-30+ years.
This venerable winery continues to turn out a bevy of impressive wines in both 2012 and 2013.’ Drink 2018-2040
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