The 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Backus Vineyard is a massive, youthful blockbuster with an opaque purple color as well as firm tannins (despite the general openness and ripeness of the 2002 Napa Cabernets). Almost overly rich, it has a long evolution ahead of it given its firm tannins and off-the-charts concentration and extract. One has to admire this cuvee for its extraordinary structure and multidimensional personality, but at present, even with airing, the primary aromas of new oak, loamy soil, graphite, incense and black fruits are all one can expect. In the mouth, the wine remains brutally tannic, but there is enough stuffing to easily balance out the wine’s structure. It is a young, possibly great wine for the ages, and I would not hesitate to put my money where my mouth is. This 2002 should be absolutely amazing in 25-30 years. The Backus Vineyard is planted in the red soils of the steep hillsides of Oakville, overlooking Screaming Eagle and Rudd Estate. (RP) 96+
From first sniff to finish, this head-turning young wine is nothing less than a classic expression of all that is best in Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Its juicy, concentrated aromas are rich in cassis and plentiful sweet oak while finding highlights of mineral and black soil terroir, and its very deep, keenly fruited flavors follow suit. Despite a bit of tannic hardness that is entirely in keeping with its varietal and age, the wine is wonderfully well-balanced and offers plenty of promise for an increasingly supple future if allowed the six to ten years of cellaring that its depth and beauty have surely earned. Kudos to Phelps for its one-two combination of stunners. *Three Stars*
Smooth and polished, with a velvety mouthfeel that conveys cherry and blackberry flavors, without heavy extract. Oak plays a supportive role. The overall impression is of elegance, power and extreme balance. The tannins are soft enough for immediate drinking, yet should protect this wine through at least 2015.
Cassis, kirsch, menthol and roasted herbs on the nose. Rather muscular on the attack, then dense, lush and highly concentrated in the middle, with a deep core of dark fruit and bitter chocolate flavors. In comparison to the Insignia, this is a more rustic style of wine, but the concentration of phenolic material is impressive...I'd wait a good six or seven years on this wine. The Backus vineyard, located across the valley from Harlan Estate, is now farmed bio-dynamically. (ST) 92+
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