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.
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)
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)
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*
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)
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)
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. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. (JL)
This vintage of Insignia is 75 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 percent 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.
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2013 Chateau Ste. Michelle "Cold Creek Vineyard" Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (Elsewhere $30)