First produced from the 1974 vintage, Insignia is the first proprietary Bordeaux-style blend produced in California. Each vintage is comprised of the best grapes from Joseph Phelps Vineyards, first from both grower and estate fruit, and beginning with the 2004 vintage, from entirely estate-grown fruit sources. Insignia is a Cabernet Sauvignon based wine crafted from six of the Joseph Phelps estate vineyards: Spring Valley Home Ranch Vineyard in St. Helena, Banca Dorada Vineyard on the Rutherford Bench, Las Rocas and Barboza Vineyards in the Stags Leap District, Yountville Vineyard in the Oak Knoll District and Suscol Vineyard in South Napa Valley.
Forty years after the inaugural vintage, Insignia is recognized as one of the world’s great wines. The 2002 vintage was awarded “Wine of the Year” by Wine Spectator magazine in 2005 and in November 2013, high esteem by critic Robert Parker that in 2014, to mark the winery’s 40th anniversary, he visited the estate for an historic tasting of each Insignia vintage from 1974-2012, awarding the 1991, 1997, and 2002 vintages each a perfect 100 points points – proving that the best California Cabernets can stand the test of time. On his website, Parker reported on the tasting, noting that the event was, ‘one of the most historical vertical tastings I have ever done… I had the privilege of tasting every vintage from 1974 to 2012.’
83% Cabernet Sauvignon from estate-grown grapes in Stags Leap and the Rutherford Bench; 14% Carneros Merlot; 3% Napa Valley Petit Verdot.
September 8 - October 8, 1997
Grapes were harvested from September 8, - October 8, 1997 at an average 25.0° Brix, fermented in stainless steel tanks, then barrel aged for 26 months in 100% new French oak barrels. The wine is scheduled for bottling in January, 2000.
The 1997 vintage presented one of the most challenging growing seasons in recent memory, yet produced some of the best red wines California has seen in decades. Early on, barrel tastings of the 1997 Insignia indicated color and flavor concentrations beyond the levels achieved in 1994 and 1995, and we consider those two years among the best in the last 25!
After torrential rainfall in December and January, warm, dry weather through July initiated early budbreak, excellent fruit set, and veraison which was two to three weeks earlier than normal. Sugar concentrations were near desired levels by the end of July, and reports of a large crop surfaced as some wineries began to harvest in early August. (This was not a scenario that indicated high quality.)
However, the weather made a dramatic change on August 8 as a major cooling trend brought fog, mild temperatures and half an inch of rain on the 19th. Finally, with the return of warmer weather in the third week of September, the crop achieved near-perfect ripeness levels and harvest began in earnest.
At this stage in the wine's development, it continues to exhibit amazing color and concentration, as if it were half its age. With complex aromas of black cherry, plum, chocolate, currant and toasty oak, the wine displays layers of flavor and richness that disguise its power and longevity. Beautifully crafted and balanced, the 1997 Insignia reflects a new level of quality from both the vineyards and the growing regions.
If we were to draw up a wish list of weather patterns for the ideal vintage, they would not resemble the above! Yet our 1997 Napa Valley Cabernet meets or exceeds every quality standard this same wish list would include. With its opaque color, concentrated, jammy aromas of black cherry, herbs and mocha, the wine reveals similar, satisfying flavors and a long, intricate finish.