As I have mentioned before, one of the benefits of collecting wine, or building your own wine cellar, is the ability to go to the cellar and select a bottle of wine that fits your particular mood or palate at that moment. Sometimes that selection might be based on the kind of day you had. Several weeks ago, I went to my wine cellar in the evening after a particularly busy day in the office, and I selected a bottle of Joseph Phelps Insignia proprietary red wine. The vintage was 2001.
Let me give you a little background on Insignia. Insignia was the first proprietary Bordeaux style blend produced in California. It is the flagship wine of the Joseph Phelps vineyards. Nearly 40 years after the inaugural vintage, Insignia is recognized as one of the world’s great wines. In fact Wine Spectator Magazine named the 2002 vintage as the “Wine of the Year.” It is interesting to note that Robert Parker, of the Wine Advocate magazine, rated the wine in 2002 at 93 to 96 points and that was before the wine had been released. Again in December of 2003 Parker tasted the wine again and rated it at 95 points. In February of 2005 Parker tasted the wine yet a third time and rated the wine at 95 points. In June 2011 Parker tasted the wine again and rated it almost perfect at 99 points. Joseph Phelps made about 18,000 cases of the red blend which consists of 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petite Verdot and 3% Malbec.
I opened the wine and let it sit for about two and a half hours before I poured the first glass. I served the wine at room temperature. I found the wine to be still very youthful. It has a very dense purple color to it and it had a great bouquet. It had very balanced tannins…it did not take your breath away at the finish. It had a very balanced, full palate velvety taste to it. It was sensational wine and I think that it will just get better and better over the next 10 to 15 years.
My good friend, Stan Minden at Chalet Party Shoppe, have discussed the Insignia wine. And after this tasting, I discussed my thoughts with Stan and discovered that he is fortunate enough to have even some older vintages of Insignia and had generally the same comments. He did share with me that he has noticed there is a chance on several bottles of wine that the corks have been rather brittle and I had the same issue. My cork snapped in half when I took it out. Now this could be the case of the wine key not getting straight into the cork and thus snapping it. The problem with having the cork snap like this is that there is a tendency to get some cork shreds in the wine. This is always a pain. So, if you open the older bottles, you might be alerted to this issue and pay close attention to how you open the bottle. In short, if you get the opportunity to drink Joseph Phelps Insignia, I think you find it is just a delightful wine and it will be a joy for you to drink.