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 Vintage2005 Label 1 of 29 
ProducerJoseph Phelps (web)
VarietyCabernet Sauvignon
VineyardBackus Vineyard
SubRegionNapa Valley
UPC Code(s)010465229908

Drinking Windows and Values
Drinking window: Drink between 2011 and 2025 (based on 19 user opinions)
Wine Market Journal quarterly auction price: See Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon Backus on the Wine Market Journal.

Community Tasting History

Community Tasting Notes (average 93.4 pts. and median of 94 pts. in 50 notes) - hiding notes with no text

 Tasted by wine-strategies on 4/4/2015: WOTN, (the 2005 Alban Seymour's needed lots more air, but mostly just needs many more years of rest) and for good reason; this is very well-balanced and chock-full of complexity, with countless layers of red and black fruit that are constantly revealing hidden nuances and silken textures. Checks all the boxes a fine wine should, and avoids any suggestion of over-ripe or over-wrought. Elegant, but solidly built, too. The best has yet to come, I think, as tertiary development has yet to really take hold, but with just 2 hours in decanter this was showing brilliantly on the night. An absolute joy to drink. Thru 2027, highly recommended

Served non-blind. (1580 views)
 Tasted by mrmedoes on 5/3/2014 & rated 94 points: Short line: "a big boy with finesse." Giant Oakville cab nose on this that is appealing to say the least. It had just a touch of vegetal character at open, but left to grab some slow o for four hours, it burned off. Acidity is a great cutter here. I'm betting it will integrate better in late age, but I'm pretty sure that if you had a beef pairing, this would be outstanding as the acid cuts the fat. Big tannins if you hold the finish, but they're not unbearable. For the curious (me), totally drinkable and approachable. (3306 views)
 Tasted by Robert Pavlovich on 4/4/2014: Oozes class and expensive oak on the palate with gobs of wood and tannin but its already well integrated, giving the wine a creamy texture, and plenty of vanilla extract. Good freshness. Hedonistic fruit. Should age well for at least a decade. (3064 views)
 Tasted by grafstrb on 3/29/2014: -- popped and poured --
-- tasted a single pour, blind, over approx. 20 min. --

Black cherry Nose. Medium bodied. “Soft” palate: blackberry; typical; fine tannins. The reveal surprised me, as this didn’t really strike me as anything special at all. (2622 views)
 Tasted by wine-strategies on 1/11/2014 flawed bottle: TCA, bummer. (4211 views)
 Tasted by rhanke on 12/14/2013 & rated 92 points: nice aroma, great balance (3266 views)
 Tasted by badgermitch on 12/6/2013 & rated 93 points: 3 hour decant. Big Cali cab, but beautiful with the decant. Wotn (1906 views)
 Tasted by IGN WINESNOB on 11/17/2013 & rated 95 points: Opened and waited a couple hours. Nice nose as we allowed to open slowly, it presented well. Over the night, consumed with great enjoyment as blossomed nicely (1863 views)
 Tasted by IGN WINESNOB on 10/5/2013 & rated 94 points: Great from pop and v'd. Nice nose from start. Opened slowly, but when it did presented well. Day two, slower open, but great as well. (2002 views)
 Tasted by bobwire on 5/30/2013 & rated 93 points: i thought it started a little tight and slightly sour at the start but after about 30 minutes it open oped quite nicely.
This is a big cabernet . I personally prefer a softer wine but all in all it was a fun wine to drink and despite it brooding character didn't seem to take away from the meal but didn't put it all together either (2529 views)
 Tasted by Thirsty1 on 5/2/2013: This was a pop and pour on the way to Chicago. It was a little closed down and didn't get much time to open with four participants. Dark powdered chocolate and ceder were prevalent but was multilayered and powerful. Very nice but wish I had the chance to have more. (2375 views)
 Tasted by Yiannis on 4/15/2013 & rated 95 points: Backus vs. Insignia (Atheneum Intercontinental Hotel, Athens, Greece.): Less powerful than the 2004 but more etheral. Licorice, blackberry and cedar on the nose alongside the dark chocolate that is one of this wine's signature aromas. Full-bodied with less ripe fruit compared to the 2004, hence tannins and acidity are perceived as higher here. Aftertaste is long. This was the Bordeaux lovers' darling among the wines of this tasting. (2904 views)
 Tasted by k.lonis on 4/14/2013 & rated 94 points: (Deals/Genka Gastronomy Fair, J. Phelps Backus & Insignia mini vertical, Intercontinental Hotel)
This is a blend of 93% CS, 4% Petit VErdot, 3% Malbec, inox fermeting tanks, 24 months in oak, total produciton of 14.000 btl.
Dense, gorgeous nose full of spices, peppers, toasted oak, vanilla, jammy but not in a heavy sense, mostly small stone fruits like plums.
Massive in the palate, high acidity, ripe and poweful tannins, tight, rich but lacks some overall concentration, the alcohol gives a hot kiss, plum-my and green pepper aftertaste. A great wine but I think a step back from the 2004, at this point at least. (2043 views)
 Tasted by harish on 1/26/2013 & rated 93 points: very good very smooth. i would love to buy again (2525 views)
 Tasted by RobertDwyer on 1/1/2013 & rated 87 points: Decanted 5+ hours. I felt this wine had a bit of a dour personality with dry woodsy/cedar aromatics and drying tannins that overwhelmed any supporting fruit characteristics. It was quite stern and hard to love. Some might like this style but for me it was out of balance and lacked the things I like most about Napa Cab. 14.5% alcohol.

Probably one of the biggest QPR busts I've ever experienced. Thankful I paid $79.99 on a closeout rather than the $225 (ouch!) this supposedly retails for. I like the style of the Insignias I've tasted much more than this. (2551 views)
 Tasted by bubbachumps on 11/10/2012 & rated 94 points: A real treat to have this wine along with '02, '05, '06, '07 and '08 Insignias. Incredibly exotic nose with notes of blackberry, cassis and loads of spice. Rich fruit in the mouth, consistent with the nose, but much more reserved than the nose. This benefit from more time in the bottle. Delicious! (2937 views)
 Tasted by IGN WINESNOB on 10/29/2012 & rated 96 points: Pure from the pour. Quite nice. Great nose, legs, color in glass. An experience that is remarkable. Finishing tomorrow, can't wait as these mature once open like no other I have had. Awesome!! (2699 views)
 Tasted by andycpa on 10/23/2012 & rated 94 points: Drank with my Wife on her birthday at Flemings. The wine manager and chef manager love it. By far a spectacular Cab with Steak. (2704 views)
 Tasted by badgermitch on 10/12/2012 & rated 92 points: Changed tremendously over a few hours. Needs time to open up. Big powerful Cab. should be better in time. (2342 views)
 Tasted by IGN WINESNOB on 6/17/2012 & rated 93 points: Popped on Fri, one small glass with the goal of finishing on Sun, Fathers Day as I have found they are best 2-3 days after opening!! Pleasant, but muted, a while to open. These Backus wines are very intresting as the couple of bottles I have consumed took DAYS to open properly. Finished bottle Sunday, opened quickly in glass, within 15 minutes, and quite a transformation. Great nose, finish, color. Not sure if these just need to age, or you have to decant for 3 days, but understanding now, you must decant or wait on these wines, but well worth it. (2969 views)
 Tasted by JasonG on 2/15/2012 & rated 94 points: Love this wine. Dark, dark garnet color. Very substantial bouquet of flower petals, sandalwood, touch of grapeseed, and pure red fruits. Very full, but not hot, mouthfeel. Finish is long, exceptional, very balanced. I could drink this forever. Glad I tasted blind so I didn't know what it cost or what it was until several weeks later - what a stunner. I agree this will easily hold another 5 years. (3136 views)
 Tasted by tp096255 on 12/1/2011 & rated 93 points: ---
COLOR: Opaque black-garnet, almost to the rim.
NOTE: This is a beast and needs 5+ more years. I should have listened to other CT reviewers but oh well. Equivalent to the best Bordeaux I've had. Extremely structured and built to last 20 more years. That being said, I haven't met a Bordeaux that excited me (even first growths) so this was more of an academic exercise for me. The nose wafts 2 full feet out of the glass, but it's unyielding like the 2008 Kapcsandy. Full of pencil lead, granite, then boysenberry liqueur sneaks in before it's overwhelmed by the tar and tobacco. Faint heat but that doesn't show up anywhere else. At 5 hrs mouth is a bit more generous with the blackberry compote, camphor, medium glycerin, pencil lead. Finish is a fight between the minerals/pencil lead and fruit. Ultimately I just find a strong cherry tobacco note lingering.

DECANT: 1-8 hours
GLASS USED: Riedel Sommelier Bordeaux
TASTE: 9.3-
COST: 105
VALUE: 6.0
TRY AGAIN: 2016 - 2031
Inquiries can be addressed to troypeterson@usa.net
 Tasted by IGN WINESNOB on 11/19/2011 & rated 93 points: Decanted for 2 hours. Didnt open up really until in the glass and given some attention. WHen it did, very nice. This is powerful CAB, and real nice experience. Should definitely be for special occasions. (4342 views)
 Tasted by IGN WINESNOB on 11/5/2011 & rated 94 points: Opened slowly, very nice nose and finish. Drank over two nights. Slightly better day 2. Really nice experience. (4181 views)
 Tasted by lumpyelbow on 10/8/2011: Napa 2011; 10/6/2011-10/9/2011 (Napa Valley, California): Some meat and tobacco notes. Astounding.... 93% CS. 100% new French oak. (4967 views)
 Only displaying the 25 most recent notes - click to see all notes for this wine...

Professional 'Channels'
i-WineReview.com, Joseph Phelps Wines (10/31/2010)
(Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon Backus Vineyard Oakville Napa Valley) Subscribe to see review text.
By Stephen Tanzer
Vinous, May/June 2008, IWC Issue #138
(Joseph Phelps Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Backus Vineyard Napa Valley) Subscribe to see review text.
By Stephen Tanzer
Vinous, May/June 2007, IWC Issue #132
(Joseph Phelps Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Backus Vineyard Napa Valley) Subscribe to see review text.
NOTE: Scores and reviews are the property of i-WineReview.com and Vinous. (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.

2005 Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon Backus Vineyard

Winemaker notes:

Grapes were harvested at an average 25.0 Brix, fermented in stainless steel tanks, then aged 24 months in new French oak barrels manufactured by Taransaud, Dargaud, Jaegle, and Darnajou. The wine was subsequently bottled without filtration in January, 2008.

The 2005 Backus Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon yielded a clasc, more European-style wine early on as it aged in barrel. The wine evolved slowly, showing beautiful weight and aromatics after one year which continued to increase after the second year. The result is a deeply ruby colored wine with hints of graphite, freshly ground espresso bean, crushed stones, ripe dark berries and plum, all of which contributes to an enticing bouquet. The texture is layered with ripe, well-integrated tannins along with a velvety, seamless finish. The 2005 wines are sure to be long-lived.

Cabernet Sauvignon



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