Still a young wine at age 12, the 2001 Insignia exhibits a dense purple color along with a sweet bouquet of camphor, blackberries, cassis, incense and spring flowers. Full-bodied, rich and heady with sweet tannin, stunning concentration and a fabulous finish, this remarkable Insignia has 25 or more years of life ahead of it. (RP) 98+
A triumph. Aged nearly two years in all-new French oak, this massive wine stuns with its superb balance. Manages the elusive challenge of reining in hugely ripe black currant, cherry and oak flavors and sweet tannins while keeping the palate impression soft and alluring, almost feminine. Just gorgeous right out of the bottle, but should develop effortlessly through the decade and beyond.
(from an early harvest, like 2015; the first vintage of a ten-year spell without any Cabernet Franc): Dark red with ruby highlights. The aromas of currant, graphite minerality and dark chocolate convey an inviting warmth. Wonderfully suave, fleshy and sweet, especially for its 13.9% alcohol. Deep, broad flavors of raspberry, sandalwood and soy are energized by a subtle mineral quality and harmonious acidity. Outstanding intensity and tight grain here. Finishes with serious but integrated tannins that spread out horizontally on the very long finish. This wonderfully balanced, still-young wine has clearly benefited from the firming influence of its 8% Petit Verdot element, the highest to this point. Incidentally, this was the last vintage of the Insignia with measurable brettanomyces--but it works for me! (ST) 95+
This is a great vintage of Insignia, which means it's a great Napa Cabernet that will last for decades. The balance is amazing, incorporating beautiful red fruit deepening to black cherry and darker berry, a lot of alcohol and a lot of oak holding it structured and strong. The texture is flawless, with tannins adding richness and earthy notes of black Stags Leap District soil. Those tannins seamlessly support the sweet blend of Cabernet with a touch of Petite Verdot (8 percent) and Malbec (3) extending the clean berry flavors long after each sip.
Far and away the more polished of the two showcase bottlings from Phelps, this year's Insignia is simply bursting with well-extracted curranty fruit and is, from its first sniff through to its very long finish, a luxuriant wine that is layered with gorgeous oak. It claims different territory than its sturdier partner below, and it achieves a real sense of elegance without sacrificing richness or size. It is so finely balanced that it almost tempts drinking now, but its undisguised tannins remind that its best lies some years ahead. *Two Stars*
First vintage with no Merlot. Bright crimson with blackish hints. Lively top notes with real refreshment. I'd have guessed more Cab Franc from the nose. But then lots of sweetness on the palate. And a certain tarriness of texture. Still a little chewy and bitter. I wouldn't choose to drink this yet! 17/20 points (JR)
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