Tasted Saturday, October 13, 2007 by Dave Dalluge with 1,076 views
Steve has already described the origin of the idea for this event and the setting at WA Frost. I'll just add that the food was amazingly good and the service was even better. Fresh stems were brought for each flight. Rumor has it that one person was brought in solely to wash and dry glasses for us. Drew our waiter provided world-class service. The pours were spot on. He even provided some operatic entertainment near the end of the meal.
Thanks to George Kautzman (who supplied the oldest vintages), Steve Sigmond (who supplied the newest vintages), and Chris Larson (who filled in the gaps) for all of their excellent work pulling this amazing tasting together. It couldn't possibly have gone any better.
Chris had effectively lowered expectations on this flight and it showed far better than anyone expected. An impressive start!
Hardly imperfect. The 1987 and 1989 were most impressive.
This flight was the weekest of the older wines, but all were very enjoyable. These showed more similarity than differences.
This flight alone was worth the price of admission!! Too bad about the 1976, because I think it would have fit right in. Is it sad that the best Insignia is the first one? Probably not, because the track record -- as demonstrated by this tasting -- shows remarkable high quality thoughout the 30+ years. An absolutely awesome flight. Thanks again George!
The 1986 was my favorite vintage of the 1980s by quite a bit. An awesome wine. The 1991 was a disappointment given how good this vintage should be. 1998 and 2000 reminded me of the Harlan tasting -- wines unworthy of the name.
This was an awesome flight. However, this is also where the wines started showing too young. I have had the 1994 six times with the last bottle about a year ago. It changed considerably over that time, and last year I thought it was showing fairly old. However, this flight really showed me how youthful it really is. I first had it in 1999, and it was an epiphany. The smell and taste rattled around in my head for a few days. I couldn't believe how good it was. Based on this tasting, I would say the 1994 has many years ahead of it, and could continue along a trajectory like the 1974. Regardless I look forward to the experience.
I liked the 1996 and 1997 a lot. They are still youthful, and should develop nicely. I have had the 2001 twice, and it is a nice wine, but nowhere near the wow for me that the 1994 was at a similar age. It could just be me, but I suspect it is much more concentrated fruit and heavier oak.
I'm not sure who's idea it was, but somehow a wine list appeared in my hands. Diane and I looked over the options and -- after soliciting input from the group -- ordered a 1990 Grand Dame. As described in my note below, I can't tell you what relief this was. After twenty seven amazingly homogeneous wines, the Grand Dame was like a drink of water after a long day in the dessert. I thought I would be able to handle this marathon tasting. I held on for quite awhile, but in the end I couldn't quite make it.
I tasted through these but took no notes. At this point in the night I had trouble distinguishing much of anything about them. It's sad, because I was really looking forward to my first taste of the 2002.
I was very impressed with the wines. Phelps has been producing a wine of consistent high quality since the inaugaral vintage of 1974. The older wines (say through 1990) had a wonderful homogeneity about them, yet all possessed some level of vintage uniqueness that shone through. Most impressive!