Joseph Phelps 2012 Insignia Napa Valley Red Wine
97 points Jeb Dunnuck
Another sensational 2012 is the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Insignia, which is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Petit Verdot, Merlot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc. Aged two years in new barrels, this is a decidedly opulent, sexy wine that has loads of crème de cassis, roasted herbs, lead pencil, lavender, and exotic spice. With a massive, expansive, broad, yet also weightless texture, it has a stacked mid-palate, no shortage of structure, and a blockbuster finish. It’s an incredible Cabernet that can be drunk today with incredible pleasure or cellared for two decades or more. (8/2018)
97 points James Suckling
Amazing aromas of blueberry, blackberry, mineral and bark. Complex nose. Full body plus super integrated tannins with superb balance and depth. Coffee and chocolate too. Very long and mind-bending. A tribute to the vintage. Drink or hold. A long life ahead of it. (11/2015)
96 points Robert Parker's Wine Advocate
The 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. (RP) (10/2015)
96 points Vinous
Just bottled, the 2012 Insignia is rich, voluptuous and racy to the core. Raspberry jam, mocha, wild flowers, spices and espresso are laced together in a sensual, enveloping Insignia that should drink well with minimal cellaring. I imagine the 2012 will reward readers with a long drinking window of pure pleasure. Today, it is a total knock-out. (AG) (10/2015)
95 points Connoisseurs Guide
As rich and as deep as can be in the nose and immediately impressing as a very serious Cabernet with elements of black olives, hardwood spice and loamy soils overlying its very sure, highly concentrated, black currant fruit, the latest Insignia is a layered, multi-faceted offering of striking richness and range. It is both weighty and fairly supple with a proper spine of youthful tannin, yet as Insignia is so often wont to do, it already shows a somewhat polished side that predicts a fairly refined future. Still, it is not a wine to be drunk down in haste, and its high recommendation comes with the urging that it be given time to reach its best. *Three Stars* (12/2015)
95 points Wine Enthusiast
In 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. *Cellar Selection* (VB) (12/2015)
94 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar
Saturated ruby. Very ripe aromas of black raspberry, musky espresso and mocha, but the 14.6% alcohol is in line with other recent vintages. Fleshy, plush and sweet, showing a distinctly wild, gamey aspect to its dark fruit and espresso flavors. This viscous, full-bodied wine is wonderfully sweet and sexy today. The big, building back end features huge, ripe, dusty tannins that coat the front teeth. Will it shut down in the bottle? Certainly, the 2012 will rely more on its tannins than on its acidity for longevity. (ST) (4/2016)
93 points Wine Spectator
Packs 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. (JL) (10/2015)
92 points Wine & Spirits
This vintage of Insignia is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% each Merlot and Petit Verdot, with the balance in Malbec and Franc. It’s Phelps’s most ambitious red, wearing its oak aging like a thick velvet curtain, but one that pulls aside to reveal deeply saturated flavors of plum, black cherry, cedar and tobacco. There’s some delicacy to the wine, apparent in a hint of lavender and rose, carried along on a gracious finish. A great vintage of Insignia, worthy of long aging in a cool cellar. (10/2015)
Harvest Dates: October 3 - 29, 2012.
Blend: 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot, 10% Merlot, 3% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc from 100% estate grown Napa Valley vineyards:
• 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
• Rutherford, 15% Banca Dorada Vineyard
Aging: 24 months in 100% new French oak from coopers Taransaud, Dargaud Jaegle, Nadalie, Demptos, Marcel Cadet and Sylvain prior to bottling in January 2015.
Winemaking Notes: Vineyards were carefully monitored throughout the growing season for optimum, even ripening, paying close attention to Insignia designated blocks. Grapes were held seperate during picking, sorting and fermentation. The 2012 Insignia has an inky dark hue and aromas of ripe blackberries, star anise, cigarbox, clove and sweet mocha notes. Richly opulent with velvety texture and supple tannins, this full-bodied offering envelops the palate in luscious, lingering black plum and violets along with layers of baking spices.
Growing Season: The 2012 growing season proved to be excellent from start to finish in Napa Valley. It was a warmer year than the prior three, beginning with cold, dry and sunny weather for the first few months. Bud break occurred during the first two weeks of April and both bloom and veraison took place earlier than 2010 and 2011. Phenomenal fruit set and perfect ripening weather in August, September and October resulted in superior fruit with exceptional quality.
Review: (96-100) Points, “A magnificent Insignia that will be bottled in several months, it boasts an opaque purple color as well as fabulous notes of graphite, blackberries, black currant 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.”-R.P., Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate, Oct. 2014
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