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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This bottle was amusing. It played hide and seek from start to finish. Decanted for 2 hours for Bday dinner at Osteria Mozza. Upon opening, the bouquet exploded with lots of cassis, tobacco and meat as expected of classic higher end Napa cabs. The palate was spot on within 30 minutes of decanting with red fruits, cedar, chocolate. The tannins were silky smooth and balanced with the acid and fruits. Drank another sample after 2-hour decant before putting wine back in bottle to take to Mozza. It was very disappointing...bouquet is practically gone, palate was very tannic. Took along a 2004 Kapcsandy as back-up wine. Decanted again at the restaurant in hope that the magic would come back. And sure enough, the gorgeous bouquet and palate slowly came back...just to disappear again towards the end of the bottle. The wine got really tannic and out of focus about 2 hours into dinner. I don't know what to make of this bottle. I guess you can say I got punk'ed. Hahaha! It was very enjoyable nonetheless. Very nice wine overall. Got this bottle from a reputable auction site and it had good storage history. If I have another one, which I don't, I'd only decant less than an hour and would drink in 1 sitting. If you have some of these...cheers to you!
Inky blood red. Cherries and tobacco nose. Decanted from a magnum and left to open for an hour. Could have used 3. A beautiful, powerful cab. Toasted bread, chocolate and cedar. Black fruits, clear acids, and rich, mildly sweet plums. This is drinking well, but has years to go.
Opened and allowed to breathe for 2.5 hours, but not decanted. Tobacco, red cherry and crushed stone on the nose. Fruits are still fairly powerful for a wine of this age and the tanins, which are nicely integrated and although soft, show some grit. Wine shows its New World pedigree but is definatly done in a bordeaux style. Have three more bottles and believe I'll try to consume by 2016
I let this breath for 2 hours in the bottle. It peaked at 30 minutes in the glass or 3 hours in the bottle. I wouldn't recommend decanting as these older insignias can go through a quick life cycle in my experience. Had it with filet and really enjoyed it all night long. Went nicely with the chocolate cake as well. What you'd expect from an insignia.
From magnum. This wine continues to improve in the bottle. The nose was just out of this world and easily worth 95-96 points. Complex, exhilarating black fruits with complexing elements of underbrush, graphite and chocolate. In the palate, it was full bodied, elegant, with resolved tannins and very decent length. A winner from an un heralded vintage.
Outstanding, one of the best showing wines all year so far. Perfectly stored since release. Wonderful bouquet on the nose, dark fruits, herbs, some olive. Great presence on the palate, with oodles of flavors and a long finish. Simply wonderful.
AT Kevin D's, last wine of the night for the group. He was very generous with hiss cellar this evening. Went into the cellar and pulled two 750s of this, popped and poured, drank over an hour. Could have used a chance to open up.
Delicious out of the chute, still a little tight. Ripe, dark fruits, mocha, mushrooms, eucalyptus, dark cherries (mid palate), some spice. Mild tannins, starting to resolve.
Very good, although in scheme of Insignia's would rank in the middle of what I have experienced.
Mocha chocolate powder on the nose, intermingled with wet earth, mushrooms and mint. In my mind, the tell--tale sign of age is there. Lots of barrel toast and morello cherries on the palette. Tannins add superb texture and structure. Super long finish. This wine is outstanding.
annie's favorite so we popped one, very nice wine, big nose with dark fruit and chocolate, rich on the palate but with nice tannin / acid bite to keep it in check, very full bodied with dark fruits and cocoa... nice effort even if a bit rich, also some herb or spice element sneaking around in the background
Tasted blind alongside 7 other Cali cabs, decanted for 2 hours. Gorgeous nose of dark cherry, anise, cedar and dark earth. Beautiful dark fruit and lovely structure and tannins - balanced right between primary and secondary. Excellent on its own and even better with food. My WOTN, #2 for the group
dark, almost opaque; incredible lovely mostly fruity nose; smooth tannins, hint of walnut flavor; very nice finish - the standout thing about this wine was the nose, lovely in your face with every sip!
Very nice. Full bodied with excellent intensity, lush fruit, and suave profile. Really a solid wine, soft and enjoyable with some very nice dark notes that keep it serious. Drinking very well right now and for the foreseeable future. Well built. Very much enjoyed by a bunch of smart Kiwis. B+/A-
Got to agree with most of the tasting notes here. Great performance for a 1999. Not the level of intensity and concentration that one gets from the top years but no one is going to complain when served this late in the evening.
Just perfect! This has plenty of time left but drinking wonderfully right now. Decanted 3 hours at cellar temp. Re-bottled and took to dinner. Upon first taste, my wife and I quickly exchanged knowing glances - as we recognized this bottle as being something special. And then we proceeded to fill our family's glasses with the other bottle that we brought to dinner so we could get more of this for ourselves! (For our family to drink a wine over $20 is a treat for them - so they were more than taken care of with the other wine! But a wine this good needs to be consumed by those that can appreciate it!!!) Excellent vintage. Going to see if I can find more.
3rd time I have had this. This bottle was a gift from Dr.T. Opened at a Christmas party. Not decanted and moderately sedimented. Drinking beautifully now. Smooth and elegant. Very different than when released. Notes of cedar, herbs and plums. Integrated tannins. Long finish. 95 points.
Consumed at the SAFW Reunion. Aromas and flavors of black cherry, blackberry, some dark chocolate, a touch of mint, cigar box from the oak. Intense, rich and full bodied. Velvety in the mouth. Nice balance. Tannins are soft and totally integrated into the wine. A long and appreciable finish of 30-40 seconds.
The wine was decanted for an hour before pouring. A deep garnet color in the glass. Very pungent nose of red and dark fruits. We drank this wine at a Ned Towle (Westchester Wine School) tasting (appx 15 wines, some of great note and age) and it was voted the wine of the nite by a majority of participants. I'm writing this review more than a month after the tasting so I'm going from memory. Now, get this straight: I'm the last guy to sing the praises of California wines. I find them to be generally overrated, overly expensive, and way too alcoholic. But, I have to admit, I was flabbergasted that this wine outshone 05 Solaia, 94 Beringer Reserve, 86 Talbot et al. Lots of fruit on the mid palate, white pepper accents, decent acidity making for a very well balanced, modern-style, not-too-hot wine from California. I'm glad I have some more so I can revisit this beauty.
Took about 1 hour in the bottle to open up and was best at about hour 3. Drinking beautifully now, balanced, ellegant, soft tannins, not a powerful wine but very stylish. Likely will keep a few more years but why wait!
Sweet dark cherry fruit, nice restrained chocolate, lots of cedar and licorice on the nose. Nice smooth palate, with good balance of dark fruit and tannins starting to move to secondary. Not a blockbuster, but nicely constructed and very ready to drink today. WOTN against some big boys from 1999 - Dominus, Monte Bello, Les Pavots, Togni...
In this bottle the tannins have integrated to a more smooth palate feel with the fruit coming forward. Dark fruit flavors are the dominant aspect with a medium finish and medium acidity keeping this adolescent from being flabby. Glad we popped it now instead of a couple of years down the road.
Extraordinary wine. I'm always excited about opening one of these...they never fail to please. Wish I could have one every night. So smooth and lush. The perfect weight and texture, - dances in my mouth with layers of flavors and oh, what a wonderful bouquet.
Remarkably aromatic. Scents of lavender along with the classic California cab smells, but really intense. Did not decant long enough. Only at about 45 to 60 minutes in the glass did the acidity yield to dark flavors of earth and tobacco. Multi layered, long finish. Perhaps an underrated Insignia?
Tasted non blind at an offline. Double decanted and left cork out for four hours before serving.
Dark garnet color in the glass, clear looking throughout. Nose started with a hint of coffee followed by a little tobacco, light notes of white pepper, red berries and plums. Flavors of red berries, red raspberries, red cherries and red plums. Bright acidity, medium to firm tannins, full bodied. Drink or hold.
CT Wisconsin Offline (Madison, WI): Not as good as the '97 & '98 I had before this. Tight nose, cedar and plums jumped out right away. Big and tannic at this stage. Needs more time to come around on the palate.
From Magnum. Not tasted blind. Very nice, subdued aromas of black fruits and cedar. In the palate it was full to medium bodied, very balanced, with low acidity and a nice, complex finish. I liked it better than the magnum of 1999 Dead Arom that we had alongside it.
De Magnum. No probado a ciegas. La nariz es un poco reticente, pero deliciosa. Con aromas de frutas negras y cedro. En boca, tiene cuerpo medio a lleno, muy balanceado, con baja acidez y un final largo y complejo. Me gustó más que la magnum de 1999 Dead Arm que nos tomamos junto a ella.
Velvety smooth and still lots of fruit in this wine. Cranberry, plum, and cedar notes, plus a hint of kirsch on the first few tastes. Tannins have softened very nicely. Beginning to have a garnet color but was still showing a dark ruby presence. Not much improvement after about 30-45 minutes, but this Insignia did not fade either. Drink sooner than later. Not too sure if this will get any better with several more years of age.
This 11 year old wine, had no trace of any oxidation; the color was a perfect dark purple. We decanted and when we did the aromas filled the room of plums, prunes or any other dark fruit, touched off with a terrific vanillan background. The flavors were just as dramatic. Truly a great wine.
Right now, this bottle is leaning the line between youth and 2ndary notes--it's right there straddling the line. Great balance, no heat (as I recall tasting the 2003 a few years back and it stunk). This bottle was perfect and in a great drinking place between the two poles.
Double-splash decanted and brought to a restaurant. Very pretty deep garnet in the glass. Dark berries, bit of leather and slight hints of tobacco in the nose. Dark cherry/berry in the mouth. Very nice texture and structure. Tannins have softened and this wine is in a nice place. Drink.
Terrific all around wine. Dark blue fruit and sweet vanilla framed by wood. I'd actually prefer the wood to be a bit more subtle. A hint of chocolate covered fruit on nose. Palate is clean and fresh. Just remarkable that it is still so fresh. Great acidity. Coating fine tannins. Great fruit and concentration. Nice finish with good length.
cork fell apart but looks ok; decanted for one hour (minor sediment); important deep plum and clean earth on the nose; red currant and sl tart red and black plum; cedar and tannins not quite integrated; medium mid palate; big but not ponderous; still has that firmness that the 99 cali cabs often show; didnt quite match with the bbq skirt steak with a sl sweet teriyaki sauce (which made it seem v sl sour)
Dark red to rim. Forward nose of dark ripe fruits/berries, smoke, tar, cassis. Full body, layered lush fruits follow the nose, gets even bigger towards the mid and back-palate with great concentration, long finish, moderate complexity. Outstanding.
Restaurant purchase; not decanted. This is still very youthful, very strong upon opening and needed 2 hours or so to tame into a more approachable wine. While I'm tempted to write that its strength and power even at 2+ hours lacked refinement, this was a well-structured and balanced wine, although still very fruit-forward. This has many fine years still ahead of it.
Probably the most powerful Insignia I have ever had! Decanted and then poured after about an hour. BIG, concentrated flavors of cassis, blackberry and a hint of oak. Not as elegant as I am used to with Insignia, this is a huge wine with a massive body, superb concentration and multilayered flavors. Well balanced with lots of acidity and firm tannins that matched the concentration of the fruit. A ridiculously long, voluptuous finish. Like a typical Insignia -- but on steroids. This bottle had a long, long life ahead of it.
How about this for an "off" year. Consistently one of the top wines in Napa. No other wine pleases as much as often as Insignia. Whether its food, poetry or seduction on the menu this is the wine to reach for when your reputation is on the line.
Opened the bottle and began drinking almost immediately...needed very little time to open up. Well balanced, plenty of fruit, elegant and pleasing. The tanins were there, but I wouldn't cellar this wine for too much longer. It's ready now. Wish I had another bottle. Enjoy!
Had a lot going on with cooking and playing cards. However, I remember smelling the wine even before the cork was completely removed. Very nice tannins and great fruit in this bottle. More berry and cherry smells with no earth tones at all. Very impressed with this wine as were the guests.
At the peak of its powers, dark purple in color, with big and bold blackberry, licorice, spice and smoke aromas. The palate is rich, balanced, elegant and smooth, with no rough edges. Full-bodied, with plenty of fruit left.
We spent about 3 hours with this bottle. The color was a deep garnet, the perfect picture of a red wine (5/5). The aroma was cream de Cassis with sage and thyme notes which were present 2" from the top of the glass (13/15). On the palate this wine was still a bit tannic and dry even after 3 hours in the decanter. I think this is typical of the '99 Napa vintage as other wines I have had from this vintage had the same heavy tannins. It was tough to pick out a primary fruit although this wine had layers of complexity (16/20). This wine was another very high quality bottle from Phelps that still had some years left in it (9/10) for a total of 93. This wine reminded me of some top notch Bordeaux more than a Cali-Cab giving testimony to Napa's ability to produce very remarkable Bordeaux blends. Sad to say that the era of $100 Insignias are gone.
Classic, typical Insignia (my favorite winery in all of Napa). Leather notes with good fruit and long finish. Tannins are holding up well, but I feel that this wine has reached its peak (I am finding lately that 10 year old Napa cabs are at their best).
We let the wine breath for about 1.5 hours before getting into it. It is really soft and balanced with just the right amount of acidity. Great color / mouthfeel and the finish is wonderful. You just can't go wrong with this one but I'm not sure how many years this will hold- maybe 3-4?
Outstanding bottle of wine. Great density and concentration. Deep garnet color. Not showing the 10 years of age. After 2+ hours in decanter, some slight bricking. This is a powerhouse, but understated at the same time. Nose of black fruit, plum, smoke, char and pencil lead. With time, secondary notes of dark bitter chocolate and coffee developed. Well integrated fine tannins coat well. Slightly bitter on the back end of the palate. Good acidity. Finish is strong.
13th Annual Lyon 10 year Retrospective (Eugene, Oregon): I gave this 1 more point blind in this tasting than my last bottle unblinded. This bottle continues the trend for Insignia for me. I was pretty sure about my guess as there's a recognizable "iron fist in a velvet glove" aspect to this wine I've tasted many times before in various vintages. Black cherry, berry, currant, cedar, plum, stone, on and on... Tied for my WOTN w/ Lafite.
big ripe and naturally sl sweet plum, cherry and mixed fruit; faint hints of prune but not overripe; wonderful mid palate and very complex flavor with well integrated oak, earth, tobacco, alfalfa, hints of cassis; relatively low acidity; sl bitter tannic backbone, which pales in comparison with the fruit; opens up over an hour in the decanter; one of my fave 99 cali cabs to date.
Dark garnet to purple color in the glass, clear hue throughout. Nose of smoke, plums, florals, currants, raspberries and a bit of dark chocolate. Lovely flavors of plums, berrries, a bit of Bing cherry and a dash of raspberries. Medium acidity, firm tannins and body. Drink now with some air time or continue to hold.
Very aromatic and obviously a blend after drinking two classic cabs first. Could really smell and taste the cab franc and petite verdot. Very nice with sweet tannins and deep fruit. Has years to go yet. Got some plum on the palate. A restrained Insignia compared with those north of 2000.
Beautiful nose especially in comparison to a 2003 Bond Matriarch. I agree with others who have describes this as Bordeaux-like- fairly restrained fruit but complex flavors of tobacco and cassis. A terrific pairing with a beautifully prepared aged strip steak. This is my first tasting of this vintage, but I'd say that this wine is probably in its peak drinking window.
Sotheby's Pre-Auction Tasting (Sotheby's, New York): The best of the CA cabs at the tasting. This was intriguing, complex, and distinctive. There were layers of dark and red fruits, and the wine showed similarly to a '97 we tasted in March. Though I generally prefer old world wines, I would consider buying this wine.
2nd time I have had this wine. This was opened by Otis as part of our 1999 Cal Cab retrospective dinner. This was the top wine in my opinion. When I first had this in 2003, it was tannic and unforgiving. It has opened up very nicely since then. Dark black red color without any bricking. The fruit was still concentrated but more pleasurable. Notes of black cherry, plum and light oak. Round finish. 93 points.
A long weekend in Seaside, OR; 6/5/2009-6/7/2009 (Seaside, OR): Upon opening, the nose showed currant, cherry and cedar aromas. Over 2 hours the nose developed more to reveal tobacco, plum, and cherry aromas with the cedar note beginning to slip into the background. The palate had nice red fruits and earthy flavors with some nice minerality coming through after about 2 hours. Good mouthfeel and a long finish. This was the second time that I have tasted this wine, and I enjoyed it much more this time than I did a couple years ago. My WOTN, and a pleasant surprise.
Wow, was this good! Sweet black fruit, accented by fresh tobacco and cedar. Silky smooth, yet concentrated, with a long finish. I haven't tried this before, but it must be in its prime drinking window. A wonderful marriage of the best of California and Bordeaux.
A classic wine in the prime drinking window. Still dark garnet in color with nose of dark fruit, mocha, and hints of vanilla. Palate is extremely elegant and concentrated with layers of smooth/soft fruit. Lengthy finish. The key word here is elegant. Of note, the fruit is just starting to fade a bit thus if your not into aged wines then you may want to drink soon.
P.S. I may have been a bit rash on my previous note: after two hours decanting the fruit finally made its appearance; but still not on the same level of quality as the Insignia '95, '97, '02, or even '04.
Where’s the fruit, where’s the mid-palate? If you like Bordeaux you may like this one, but if you want fruit you may be disappointed (too Bordeaux-like for my taste.) The pedigree prevented me from giving it a lower score.
Opened, poured and drank; should have been decanted; still tight, but underneath the firm tannins there are rich concentrated dark berry fruit flavors; finishes long; looking forward to watching this one evolve over the next 10 yeas.
Deep..............dark fruit color that gives up a big nose of fruit. A ton of black fruit that surronds the palate on top of medium to fine grained tannins. Opened up even more with about 30 minutes of decanting to reveal a bit of earthiness and some pepper. A truely delicious wine and much better, in my opinion, than the more recent Insignia wines. It seems in the last few years that the wines have become almost too big with really jammy fruit and have lost their old structure. Enjoy!!!
12/10/08: Beautiful dark Ruby red color with a great nose of blackberry, cherry, chocolate, earth and spices. The flavor is cherries and blackberries, dried cherry, currant, chocolate, cedar, sage ,bell pepper and anise. Beatiful soft tannins, great structure, layered complexity bring it all together. The finish really never quits with beautiful soft tannin, fruit and earth.
Outstanding. On my list, this beat all comers in a high-end Cali Cab tasting. Outstanding concentration of fruit, and still extremely young. Still developing. Loads of jammy fruit, cherries and berries galore. Finish lasted for 30 seconds. Truly excellent bottle.
Blind California Cabernet Tasting: This wine had us all confused. Tasted as part of our blind Cali Cab tasting, it had a very similar nose to Wine No. 1, which turned out to be the 04 Corra and Wine No. 8, which was the 95 Shafer HSS. After all is said and done, most people ranked this as the top wine of the night, with everyone placing it at least first or second. New world style. Very impressive nose. Best nose of the night, that is for sure. Some floral notes, oddly enough, but huge red fruit nose with deep red color. A very concentrated wine that filled the mouth incredibly well. Full and rich with big bold fruit, both red and blue with brown sugar and syrup. A nice long finish. Very smooth with well integrated tannins. Probably an ideal time to drink.
The last of our 99s. Pretty much the same note and rating as the previous bottles. We had this with oxtail stew and slow roasted lamb shanks. Great match. I think that 99 is a great vintage for Insignia and quite underrated.
Tasted at the Saturday Cellartracker event in Seattle. I was a bit disappointed by this wine. I was expecting so much, and it didn't deliver. Don't get me wrong... it was good. It just doesn't deserve the accolades and high scores that it tends to garner. If I had to give it a score, I'd give it a 90. It was nice, but nothing special.
Decanted 3 hours prior to consumption. Deep ruby color leads to a mildly muted nose of blackberry, chocolate and currant. More currant, dark cherry, currant, chocolate and cedar carry into medium to full bodied palate. A hint of cedar and sage are also present. Finish is fully integrated and lasts 40 seconds. A very good bottle wine just entering its prime drinking window.
Double decanted 24hrs ahead. A nose of precise black fruit with just the right amount of sweet cassis, cedar, mint and earthy notes. Fabulous texture on the plate with pure black fruits and vanilla. A grippy finish of excellent length that shows briary black fruit, a little dried leaf and that mintiness again. Appealing for its balance of ripeness and structure. Like many 1999 California Cabs, the once fierce tannins have softened. Drinking well now but 4-5 years will hopefully add a little extra secondary interest.
This wine has really improved over the last 13 months. It is drinking great right now. Aromas of smoke, dark fruits, chocolate, leather and cedar. Dark and full bodied, it is very rich with great structure, balance and complexity. Tastes of cassis, plum, dark cherries, spice, earth, chocolate, and sage. Nice long finish. 14.5% alcohol. 94-95 pts. This wine was much better than the 99 Pine Ridge Stags Leap we also had which wasn't showing all that well.
Initially a bit hard-edged, and missing the fruit of the bigger, riper vintages. However, after some time, this eventually became quite nice. After 1+ hour of air, the black currant, cassis and berry flavors came alive, and this showed very well. Impeccable balance, with a lot of structure that makes me think this will last for a while, but will probably never be as generous with providing enjoyment once the fruit starts to fade. (Score is based on the improvement with air.)
This just keeps getting better and better. Nose of briary fruits and white pepper. The structure is there with sweet tanin and dark fruit. The finish long and lingering. Just a real joy to drink and I wish I had more than only one bottle left. I only hope the 01' and 02' turn out as well.
Drank this along side a 97 BV GDL in the battle of the vintages. This one was significantly more youthful, showing the ageability of the 99's. This was terrific, nose of cherry and vanilla bean, with hints of dusty oak. Palate was full bodied and youthful, with still mildly austere tannin structure, loads of cherry, cassis, and hints of earth and sage. Finish was long, and balance was tremendous. Edged out the 97 GDL which was starting to show its age.
Insignia is one of our absolute favorite wines. When my wife and I open a bottle together, you would think that the comments would be "this is great", "amazing", etc. Instead, you will hear comments like "don't touch my glass!", "don't be taking an extra pour when I'm not looking!", or my favorite "get me a straw so I can drink the last drops without getting any sediment". Suffice to say, this is really really good stuff. On this particular bottle, the nose exploded out of the glass with tons of black cherry and current scents with new oak and the flavors were extremely smooth and perfectly balanced. You can truly call it an absolute pleasure on the palate. We did not decant this and there was really no need to. This vintage is in it's prime drinking window now but it is so well made that I think that window will be open for a long time. You could drink it now or you could drink it several years from now. Whenever you do, you will definitely enjoy it. Thanks for the bottle Denny!
Tasted March 12, 2008. Served double blind. Dark purple color in the glass, clear hue throughout. New world nose, "woody" from a heavy oak treatement with big jammy fruits with additional notes of white pepper, blueberries amd cocoa. Rich and jammy berries and cherries on the palate. Also "hot" on the palate as well. My double blind guess was a 2002 Joseph Phelps Insignia. Not rated because frankly it didn't show well, especially after the Bordeaux line up.
Opaque ruby/burgundy colour. Aromas of green pepper/vegetation, vanilla, perfume, crushed black fruit, and brown sugar. Medium-full bodied, lush, with plum, spice, and vegetal notes. Moderate finish, ~35s, with vanilla and crushed fruit replays from the palate. Quite nice, but I was expecting more.
let decant for over 1 hour. On the nose aromas of chocolate, leather, oak and cherries. The wine had a wonderful finish deep and long lasting. During dinner (steak) over 2 plus hours the wine stayed consistant and showed that it could go to a second day. Fortunately (or unfortunately) we finished the bottle in one seating. A really luscious affair.
Decanted and allowed to sit for an hour. Very floral nose; kitchen smelled of violets and greenery when decanting. I had a slight cold so my palate was shot, but the missus enjoyed it, questioning longevity simply because it was so drinkable now.
This one was tricky to rate...I couldn't tell whether the over the top tar and herbal notes were a sign of it being cooked, whether that is the style of the vintage, or whether it was slightly flawed or stored improperly. There was not any bricking on the edges so I think it has some life left in it. The body and finish was phenomenal and huge...I just could not even put it in the same league as the '01.
As far as getting good value for our "Insignia Dollar" goes, we think we did ok when we got this 99 from winebid.com for $95. The wine was outstanding with a massively explosive nose of currant, leather, and still a lot of new oak. Cabernet Sauvignon makes up nearly 80% of this blend and it definitely shines through in every way. Full bodied with a big silky mouthfeel and a nice finish. I don't know how they can make such a good wine in such large quantities but J Phelps continues to do it year in and year out. With the newer vintages starting to creep up to silly price levels, it's nice to find one of the older ones for under $100.
Not a bad bottle of Insignia - but not like their great vintages. Dark red color. Nice nose of leather, spice, tar, integrated oak with some black fruit and sweet tannins. After having the 97 recently, it's not the same game, but a good effort. Still has time left
ERI Auction and Tasting (Chicago, IL): Tasted towards the end of the event and concentration was beginning to waver. In unfamiliar territory with what is obviously a big wine. Concentration for sure with spice, chocolate, smoked meats, coffee and oak. Dense and layered.
Tasted at the Edward Roberts International wine auction in Chicago. Nice dark burgundy color. Floral nose which was surprising as I expected more "umph." Excellent, but a little disappointed considering the pedigree and vintage. Certainly a decent wine, but lacks the complexity I would anticipate from a Phelps. Mainly a plum flavor with a little hint of spice. May try decanting next time to see if it opens up.
Disappointing for an Insignia. Pleasantly perfumed aromas. On the palate, not much complexity or structure. Could be in a dumb phase, but this wine was relatively simple with plum, herb and dill. The dill note at the end was a little distracting and not in character, perhaps it was a little bit of VA. I have one bottle left and I'm not hopeful, but I'll hold for a while to see if it comes around.
the cassis and fruit are very evident on the nose, and the palate follows with clarity. Berry notes and a nice hint of licorish and herbs. the palate feel is full and the finish is well balanced. Overall a very nice wine.... which of course brings us to value and price. the very good vintages of insignia are undoubledly really first rate wines and worth 100 plus a bottle. the average vintages (of which this is one) are very fine bottles of wine, but they are a poor value at the price.
Dark ruby/garnet color. The nose of this wine was slightly woody and spicy along with the dark fruit aromas. Even after over an hour after being opened, it was still quite tightl with the palate revealing currant, licorice, and cherry flavors. I had tried the 1998 Insignia a couple years ago, and I wasn't a big fan of that. This vintage stayed true to my earlier impression of Insignia - it's just not my thing. A very good wine, but not one that knocks my socks off - especially for the tariff...
This was my least favorite vintage of the 1998, 1999 or 2000. Certainly not worth even the highly discounted price I paid for it. It was light has and less fruit than the 1998 or 2000. I'm still stunned that Wine Spectator rated the 1999 vintage so strong when there are so few examples of great wines from that vintage. R Parker seems to have gotten this year right by giving it an 88 overall.
Drinking really well right now, don't see any reason to hold this if you have 750s. Easily outshined by the 3L of '97 but with strikingly similar nose. The '99 had copious cassis, chocolate, and cherry on the palate along with plush tannin and a persistent finish, but was not as polished and powerful as the '97. Meanwhile the '01 had greater concentration and imho had greater purity and just overall seemed like a much more focused wine. While I certainly didn't think the insignias showed the best out of the bunch, they are definitely a testament to just how consistent phelps is year in and year out.
Drank the first glass right from the bottle. Nose is all about acohol. First taste no fruit. The wine has gotten better with decanting and goat cheese. Not much going on here in light of the vintage. Struggling to reconcile the taste with the reviews. May be generous with my score?
Wow - my first go with this wine, and it's working for me. Quite tannic still (I'm sure related to the vintage), but with a load of dark fruit - currant, black- and blueberry - and some iodine to keep things in check. The tannins are a bit dominant or else this would really be a spectacular wine. Benefited from 90+ minutes of airtime. I didn't decant, but would do so 45 or more minutes before I wanted to drink it, at least at this stage.
Drank as part of a five year virtical of Insignias. Tasted blind and thought this was the 2003 Insignia primarily because of the tannins. Picked up hints of chocolate and vanilla. The cab in this was really showing.
This is definitely not a "blockbuster" vintage of Insignia but this wine showed off some winemaking finesse. The balance was superb. There are still some tannins in the finish but for the most part the wine seemed ready to drink. We've had this wine several times and this is the first one with some secondary characteristics. It was very tight upon opening but after an hour or so in the decanter it opened up. [Recommend at least an hour decant]
Cab Lovers of NYC Insignia Vertical (Zoe): Where the '97 was all about "drink me" fruit, the '99 was all about backbone. Tightly wound with a dense core of currant, black cherry, anise and cedar. Nicely structured, with firm acidity and chalky tannins. It was not unpleasant to drink now (an understatement), but the grip really masks the complexity of the fruit and shortens the finish. A young blockbuster built to age, I thought this was kind of a throw-back to the finesse of the '91.
-1999 Joseph Phelps Insignia: decanted 3 hours in a Riedel Ultra then moved back to bottle and corked for a 1/2 hour in the fridge, then poured into a Riedel "I guess it is a duck decanter" for the table (1/2 hour wait before serving). Total decant time of 4 hours......Color was dark as night in a Prince Rogers Nelson Purple Rain sort of way. However, that fact could be argued in Social Hall....Not much of a nose, possibly due to the refrig job before the serving, barely discernable fruit---only faint heat.....Puzzling On the mid palate, blackberry, currant (but not in a luxurious Bob Foley way) and prune, slight trace of cinnamon (oak maybe). There is an oak aftertaste, but it has not transformed itself into any sublety of mocha or vanillan. Finish was 45 seconds consisting of tannins (give it another 5 years) burning the mid palate flavors into your gourd. I will revisit this in 5 years, but at 6.5 years after vintage, I would not recommend for the dollars paid, good wine at this moment in time but not great....--88pts.
Dark purple color, decanted for two hours and it showed a reserved nose of dark berries, spice, and to me a touch of caramel. Pleasant stucture and mouth feel, actually a very good balance. Adequate and firm fruit, but not overwhelming...a very good wine, but not great.
1999 Joseph Phelps Insignia: decanted 3 hours in a Riedel Ultra then moved back to bottle and corked for a 1/2 hour in the fridge, then poured into a Riedel "I guess it is a duck decanter" for the table (1/2 hour wait before serving). Total decant time of 4 hours......Color was dark as night in a Prince Rogers Nelson Purple Rain sort of way. However, that fact could be argued in Social Hall....Not much of a nose, possibly due to the refrig job before the serving, barely discernable fruit---only faint heat.....Puzzling On the mid palate, blackberry, currant (but not in a luxurious Bob Foley way) and prune, slight trace of cinnamon (oak maybe). There is an oak aftertaste, but it has not transformed itself into any sublety of mocha or vanillan. Finish was 45 seconds consisting of tannins (give it another 5 years) burning the mid palate flavors into your gourd. I will revisit this in 5 years, but at 6.5 years after vintage, I would not recommend for the dollars paid, good wine at this moment in time but not great....--88pts.
As I was thoroughly enjoying this lovely wine, I got to thinking: Why don't more medium and large sized wineries in Napa produce wine as good as Joseph Phelps Vineyards does with Insignia, year in, year out? It would seem to reason. While I may be able to achieve more of a sense of place by having a small vineyard source, my viticultural success is always dependent on one little plot of land -- Sink or swim by one vineyard. Phelps and other medium or large size wineries, on the other hand, sometimes have 100's or 1000's of acres worth of grapes to source from. Shouldn't their premium release be among the best each year? With Phelps, it is. Insignia, in my opinion, is almost always one of the best wines to come out of the Napa Valley. They use the best grapes they have to produce their best wine. Even in underperforming vintages such as 1998 and 2000, Phelps Insignia is still a "go to" wine. Yet we can all name many wineries that surely have access to a lot of grapes and yet produce ho-hum wines as their flagship wine. Here's hoping that the commitment to making a superb wine, whether it be 30000 cases, or 500 continues to be a priority in the Napa Valley and if production needs to drop in order to maintain quality, we all continue that commitment.
So... regarding the 1999 Phelps Insignia... inky dark color. Dark fruit of blackberries, rum soaked bing cherries, vanilla, and maple. Slight mint notes, cedar, and oak backbone. This wine is all about balance. My recollection was it was great young. It's great now. And it will probably be great in 5 years. My advice is to enjoy this one in 2-3 years giving the still ample tannins time to continue to integrate. Balance. It's what Insignia always seems to be about: balance which is the essence of great winemaking.
I decanted this about 1/2 hour to 1 hour before serving, and although it had a pretty nose and drank well, it seemed like it never really opened up. A great nose of sweet raisin flowers. Unfortunately no other notes that I can remember other than seeing some sediment.
Phelps Insignia Vertical 15+ Years: Vertical tasting. Primary and slightly jammy, less interesting than when I tried it at Phelps a few years ago. Big berry flavors showing perhaps a bit more heat than I'd want. Moderate length. Drink young.
WIML92,WA91,WS94 Tasted October 1, 2005 at an offline so brief comments only. Opened and served immediately in a Riedel Restaurant Series Bordeaux stem. Dark purple color in the glass, clear hue throughout. Nose of green beans did not bode well early on for this wine. However, that gave way to notes of pepper, leather, spice and lush dark fruits. Flavors of plum, chocolate and cassis. This turned out to be one of my favorite red wines of the evening. This wine seems to just be entering it’s drinking window and the solid structure here tells me this thing could go another 15 years. Recommended.
Decanted for hour and a half. Still tight and tannic. way too young and will wait at least another two or three years bfore again trying. The stuffing and fruit are there but it still needs to come together.
Had this last night. Uncorked and allowed to sit for 2 hrs, but poured out of the bottle / not decanted. Smooth dark berries with chocolate, tobacco and earth. Tanins evident but softened over time. Very drinkable with the time it was given, this baby still has a long life left in it. 93+pts today, more tomorrow. Much better than a year ago.
2004/2005 New Years: (served blind). Dark, showing no age. At first whiff, I was thinking Aussie Cab. I got a sense of a candied cherry with black rasperry and oak on the back end. Upon tasting I got a mouthful of fruit and oak. The candied component paired with a licorice again lead me to believe Aussie. Only the wall of structure gave me hesitation. I really liked this but wish it had another 5 years on it to settle down. Very nice wine and a big suprise when revealed.
Two bottles at the Tymetrix Christmas lunch @ Acqua. Beautiful. Dark, almost black. Medium bodied with a chocolate cherry nose of oiled leather, coffee, tar, chocolate and cherry pipe tobacco. Muscular mouth of ripe, black cherry. Tannic yet balanced. Beautiful finish. It is great and will get better for years, perhaps decades. Absolutely terrfic.
ITB(?) dinner at Oceanaire (Seattle, WA, USA): As if we really needed a fourth bottle, Lorne ordered this at the last minute off the list, so we popped and poured with the briefest of decanting sessions. This wine was surprisingly complex with a spicy and lightly herbal nose that showed cocoa and a hint of dusty minerality. The palate was rich and complex, much more delicate, tight and complex than the 2001 Pride Merlot tasted alongside. This had very little time to open, and as consequence it mostly showed tight and tart red fruit with cranberry, black cherry, raspberry, and red currant. This one needed an hour or two in the decanter to really shine, but it was awfully tasty.
Opened 2 bottles at Blue Ginger in Wellesley, MA, Ming Tsai's restaurant. I knew it was going to be great, and there was no disappointment. The nose was deep and rich berry. On the palate, the tannins were more intense than expected, but certainly judged as moderate. The wine was tight and focused, might have opened up a bit after 30 min of decanting (the second and third glasses) Berry, spicebox, tobacco, more cabernetish in this blend. A fantastic bottle of wine, highly recommended. (I should point out that this was the first Insignia I ever had)
Gift from Alex Chako when we met him in DC in 9/02. Tried the 1991, 1997, 1999 and 2000 in the last year. We had the 1999 at the 2003 WS Grand Tour in May. It was a powerful, young, tannic wine which is not ready to drink. Chocolate and black cherry notes but most of the fruit is hidden. Wait 4 years on this and see how it evolves. 91-93+.
Bright disc with opaque purple robe and purple rim. Clean nose requiring at least 30 minutes to develop. Intense currants, cassis, black cherry, vanilla, cedar and oak. The palate is full-bodied and multilayered, with a vevety texture and ample sweet tannins. The flavors are similar to the nose. Long, smooth finish. Beautiful now but will clearly get better over the next 4-6 years. I would disagree with Parker that this wine will hold until 2032!