1997 Joseph Phelps - Insignia Napa Valley
Wine Spectator: 97 Points
"Dense, rich and focused, youthful and concentrated, with hints of maturity on the edge of the core currant, mineral and spicy berry flavors. Wonderful vibrancy and intensity for a wine this age, which only bodes well for the future. A classic. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot.--'97 California Cabernet retrospective. Drink now through 2020. Tasted twice, with consistent notes. 20,000 cases made."
Wine Enthusiast: 95 Points
"Opens with aromas of black cherry and pencil lead, fruitcake and cookie dough; now it's all one big melange wrapped a bit tight. The balance and immense depth of fruit shine, even in this unevolved state. Standard dark-plum and chocolate notes are rendered with uncommon subtlety here. The finish goes on and on. Needs four to six years, but will last and last."
Wine Advocate: 100 Points
"An ideal warm, dry spring, June and July was followed by a surprisingly cool August that slowed down what looked to be rapid sugar accumulation in the grapes. September's temperatures were average to above average, without any potentially damaging heat spikes. This allowed the harvest to unfurl slowly, with no stress or imminent danger. For many Napa Cabernet Sauvignons, this resulted in one of the top vintages of the nineties. Consumers, observers and wine critics will undoubtedly argue for decades over which vintage of the nineties turned out to be the finest – 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995 or 1997. The 1997 Insignia is a 20,000-case blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Merlot and 3% Petit Verdot, with 60% coming from estate vineyards and 40% from growers. The alcohol came in at 13.8%. An inky/plum/purple color is accompanied by a stunning bouquet of violets, charcoal, crème de cassis and a hint of toast. Prodigious when it hits the palate with a full-bodied expansiveness, there is not a hard edge to be found in the 1997, only velvety tannins, compelling depth and fruit intensity, and stunning purity. It is a perfect expression of Napa viticulture and wine that should continue to age effortlessly for two decades or more."
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