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 Vintage1999 Label 1 of 140 
ProducerJoseph Phelps (web)
VarietyRed Bordeaux Blend
SubRegionNapa Valley
AppellationNapa Valley
UPC Code(s)010465709608, 010465709622

Drinking Windows and Values
Drinking window: Drink between 2005 and 2017 (based on 109 user opinions)
Wine Market Journal quarterly auction price: See Joseph Phelps Insignia on the Wine Market Journal.

Community Tasting History

Community Tasting Notes (average 93.1 pts. and median of 93 pts. in 330 notes) - hiding notes with no text

 Tasted by floridawinedrkr on 6/23/2015 & rated 95 points: Outstanding!!! Like an aged Bordeaux. Red fruit, leather, wet cedar, dark chocolate. Very silky smooth. What a great wine. Excellent from start to finish. (436 views)
 Tasted by dedwards on 5/6/2015: awesome (1180 views)
 Tasted by jrobs7777 on 2/28/2015: Saturday Night Cali Cabs (Our House (2033 Brandywine)): Now 16ish years on, this appears to have peaked and is on the downward side of a long bell curve drinking window. There are signs it may be getting just a bit tired. That is not to say it was bad on this night. Still a powerhouse and delicious but it seemed to lose just a tad of the freshness and power from our previous bottle over 5 years ago. Tannins have subsided a bit. Acidity is still there. Chocolate, dark fruit and menthol make for a delicious wine. This will still be good for a few years but I would not hold for much longer. (2369 views)
 Tasted by lvjohn on 2/22/2015 & rated 95 points: Decanted (some solids) and let breath for five hours. Wonderful! Deep purple in the glass. Very pure yet robust. Great nose. Fills the mouth and then lingers on the tongue. Complex yet well integrated. Great stuff from the first glass to the last. No sign of getting tired or flabby. (2013 views)
 Tasted by AlexHop on 2/21/2015 & rated 93 points: Excellent but not as complex as some Insignia vintages. Given how wonderful I find many 1999 Napas almost a little disappointing. Great start and still shows nice fruit but a shorter finish than I'd expect. (1941 views)
 Tasted by Anonymous on 2/15/2015: Superb in every way (1990 views)
 Tasted by Duncan Wine on 2/14/2015 & rated 94 points: Saturated deep ruby red. Aromas of dark cherry and touch of mocha. Smooth and superbly balanced with a big finish. Stood up in cellar two days before drinking. Opened and sampled 8 hours prior to dinner and left unopened in cellar. Another sip 2 hours before meal. No decanting required. WOTN. (1473 views)
 Tasted by TexasBob on 12/25/2014 & rated 92 points: Absolutely gorgeous medium red that really catches the light. Tightly restricted nose of rose petals, cloves, and freshly-crushed cranberry. Notes of diluted cherry cough syrup, extracted red fruits, with the slightest hint of green herbs in the finish along with slightly dusty tannins. This is at an ideal drinking stage, though it likely has at least another five years at this level. (1713 views)
 Tasted by davidandrose on 12/24/2014 & rated 91 points: Thought I was opening an '02, suprised later when I realized the vintage. Not decanted, this seemed thin right out of the bottle in spite of its dark color and lack of bricking. I found that syrah stems added weight, grit, complexity and darker fruit, compared to cab stems which showed this as a bordeaux-styled wine lacking depth and finish. After two hrs the wine had picked up heft, showing some green pepper on the nose, red cherry, old tobacco and older leather on on both the nose and palate. Finish had lengthened as well. Still fine with some air, but clearly on the back nine. Drink by '17 to minimize deterioration, but clearly drinkable through 2020. (1476 views)
 Tasted by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on 11/23/2014 & rated 95 points: Popped and poured. Inky purple blackness Not too much heat. Well balanced. Aftertaste of green pepper. Smooth and satisfying - like drinking gravy. Awesome. Nice little tingly bit on the tip of the tongue. Blackberry and boysenberry. Powdered sugar finish. Wine of the night. (2601 views)
 Tasted by SonnyChiba on 11/23/2014 & rated 94 points: Excellent wine. This thing is ripping. Dark dark color, full bodied, delicious black fruits, red cherry nibs coming through, as well as mocha. Balanced with a rich finish. Definitely right in the spot for my liking. Ready to go for another 10+ years. (2173 views)
 Tasted by affordableCollector on 10/9/2014 & rated 86 points: dark red, magenta, orange, in the color. dark fruit, earth, on the nose. blackberry, spice, cigar, on the palate. high acid, low tannins, on the finish. (2542 views)
 Tasted by arguseyes6 on 10/3/2014 & rated 94 points: Raspberry and smoke on nose. There was nice fruit forward of black currant with licorice on a long finish. Mid palate vegetal green pepper flavor. Decanted for a half an hour and developed nicely over the next hour or so. Tannins soften with time. (2161 views)
 Tasted by WStucker on 9/24/2014: This bottle confused me. I was using a Coravin over about a week on it. I could get what some notes were talking about, but there was a dry, over the hill, slight prune character in the foreground. Finally understood why tonight as I pulled the cork for the final glass and it completely fell apart!! (2344 views)
 Tasted by recotte on 8/24/2014: Really beautiful nose exploding from this as it was being decanted for sediment. Served immediately, this was in a great spot. Mature, integrated tannins. Nice body, silky on the palate, still showing fruit. Stood up well with no hint of fading across the 90 minutes it was consumed in. (2393 views)
 Tasted by erslack on 8/12/2014: drank with a 2000 cos and a 1987 grange. this was a distant third. (2393 views)
 Tasted by wine4ever on 8/4/2014 & rated 94 points: Still awesome, but has evolved a lot this past year. Each of the different grape varietals seem to be "competing" this go around - if that's possible. Made for an interesting couple of hours of tasting. Not as flamboyant and lush as in the past, turning more elegant, tannins well integrated. Still tons of dark fruit, spiciness, granite, some forest, herb, and touch of oak. Smooth, with a long, long finish. The mature plateau has been hit. Best over next 3-5 years, but drink by 2023. (2259 views)
 Tasted by JimN on 7/29/2014 & rated 95 points: Screaming Eagle Showdown (Yellow Springs Inn): Part of a blind tasting of 1999 US Cabernets. This was in my top three, and virtually tied with the Screaming Eagle and Colgin Cariad. A massive, dark and brooding wine. I correctly guessed as Insignia. Drinking well with a good decant, but has a decade or more ahead of it. (1926 views)
 Tasted by PSUSteve on 7/29/2014 & rated 95 points: Served blind. Decanted for 75 minutes and drank over the next two to three hours. The nose was dusty bordering on musty but the palate was deep berry fruit with complex layers. Very long finish. I thought this fell off a little bit as the evening went on. My WOTN against a high powered line-up. (1762 views)
 Tasted by werdna39 on 7/4/2014 & rated 94 points: Pop and pour. Wonderful nose. Smooth, good fruit. Seems to be on it's mature plateau. (1857 views)
 Tasted by Agreenblatt on 6/22/2014 & rated 95 points: Perfect balance between body and silky smooth finish. Aged so well in a magnum was hard to believe it was the same wine. Ready to drink upon opening. Had with Debragga and was perfect. (1653 views)
 Tasted by Agreenblatt on 6/22/2014 & rated 96 points: magnum made the difference. Great balance between body and silky smooth texture. Had much youth to it as opposed to the 750 ml. Perfect with steak. (1781 views)
 Tasted by Firefly78 on 6/16/2014 & rated 93 points: Cigar box, graphite, tobacco, rare meats and dark, ripe fruit.
Fleshy, dense, soft and rich, with medium/medium- acidity and fine sweet tannins. The alcohol was sticking out a little, with a noticable burn at the back of the throat. (1896 views)
 Tasted by 55degrees on 5/26/2014 & rated 94 points: Stored at 55 degrees since release placed upright and brought to room temp over an hour. Perfect cork with moderate tartrate. Decanted with filtration and minimal agitation. Dark ruby with faint brick rim. Good legs. Nose of stewed red fruits and some plum with slight cigar box and slatey earth with a tinge of herb.
Excellent mouthfeel still with good bing cherry and general red fruit character intermixed with leathery earthy undertones. Fine tannins but well integrated yielding a nice balanced wine with a long smooth finish. Definitely improved over 2 hours with dinner of porterhouse steaks from the grill with potatoes and tomato salad. In retrospect it might have done with a longer decant but alas it's my last one. 2018 at least. (2107 views)
 Tasted by Anonymous on 5/17/2014 & rated 93 points: einfach wunderbar, grandiose Länge 60sec. plus (1843 views)
 Only displaying the 25 most recent notes - click to see all notes for this wine...

Professional 'Channels'
By Jancis Robinson, MW
JancisRobinson.com (3/21/2013)
(Joseph Phelps, Insignia Napa Valley Red) Subscribe to see review text.
By Stephen Tanzer
Vinous, May/June 2002, IWC Issue #102
(Joseph Phelps Vineyards Insignia Proprietary Red Wine Napa Valley) Subscribe to see review text.
By Stephen Tanzer
Vinous, May/June 2001, IWC Issue #96
(Joseph Phelps Vineyards Insignia Proprietary Red Wine Napa Valley) Subscribe to see review text.
By Richard Jennings
RJonWine.com (8/1/2003)
(Joseph Phelps Insignia) Sexy, berry nose; very tasty, concentrated, cherry, berry, chocolate palate; medium-plus finish 93+ pts.  93 points
NOTE: Scores and reviews are the property of JancisRobinson.com and Vinous and RJonWine.com. (manage subscription channels)

CellarTracker Wiki Articles (login to edit | view all articles)

Joseph Phelps

Producer website

In the late 60s, Joseph Phelps was running one of the largest construction companies in the U.S. when he won the bid to build Souverain Winery (now Rutherford Hill) located a few miles outside of St. Helena. Enamored with the beautiful Napa Valley and contemplating a career change, in 1973 he bought the 600-acre Connolly cattle ranch in Spring Valley, and began planting vineyards. The winery was completed in 1974 and that same year the first Syrah was made, the first grapes were crushed at the new facility and the first Insignia was produced. It was a period of unparalleled activity, creativity, ingenuity, entrepreneurship and risk-taking and it put Joe Phelps on the map of top Napa Valley wine producers.

Nearly four decades later, the flagship wine, Insignia, is recognized as one of the world’s great wines. Twenty nine of 34 vintages have been rated ninety or more points by various wine publications. From 1990 to 2007, the average score from Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate is 94.5 pts., with the lowest score still a fabulous 91. The 2002 vintage was “Wine of the Year” by Wine Spectator Magazine, and the 2007 vintage has been rated 98 points by Robert Parker and 96 points by Wine Spectator Magazine.
Over the years, the goal of becoming 100% estate grown resulted in carefully planned acquisitions of prime vineyards in the Napa Valley. Today, the Phelps estate consists of the Spring Valley Home Ranch outside of St. Helena, Banca Dorada in Rutherford, Las Rocas and Barboza vineyards in Stags Leap, Yountville Vineyard in Oak Knoll, Suscol Vineyard in South Napa and Backus Vineyard in Oakville.

Beginning with the 2009 vintage, estate-grown wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Insignia, Backus (the single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Oakville) and Eisrébe, a dessert wine made from the Scheurebe grape. In addition, a small amount of Syrah is produced from fruit owned by Hyde Vineyards in Los Carneros.

Though the main focus is on Bordeaux varietals, Joe Phelps has had a life-long love affair with the wines of Burgundy and a desire to craft wines in that style. Originally Chardonnay was sourced from St. Helena, later from Yountville and then from Los Carneros. Through the years, however, Joe continued to search for the ideal spot to grow both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and his search ended when the perfect combination of climate, soil and location was found in Freestone, located in the Sonoma Coast AVA, a mere eight miles from the Pacific Ocean. In 1999, 200 acres were acquired and planting began. Today, 80 acres of Pinot Noir and 20 acres of Chardonnay are producing some remarkable wines which are available for tasting at the Freestone Guest Center. Visit Freestone Vineyards to learn more.

Red Bordeaux Blend

Read about the grapes used to produce Bordeaux The variety Red Bordeaux Blend in CellarTracker implies any blend using any or all of the five traditional Bordeaux varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Malbec. As such, this is used worldwide, whether for wines from Bordeaux, Meritages from California and Canada, some Super-Tuscan wines etc.


Of interest concerning the sources for grapes for this wine:



WineAmerica (National Association of American Wineries) | Free the Grapes!


California Wines (Wine Institute of California)

California is one of the most diverse wine regions in the world, with almost 100 grape varieties grown in over 100 viticultural areas, including dozens of ­different microclimates and soil types, as well as a very individualistic set of ­winemakers, many with international experience, which adds to and deepens that diversity.

Napa Valley

Napa Valley Wineries and Wine (Napa Valley Vintners) | Article in CellarTracker

Napa Valley

Napa Valley AVA

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