2012 Marks The 40th Joseph Phelps Vineyards Napa Valley Harvest
The building excitement for our 40th Napa Valley harvest throughout the growing season culminated on August 28th when the vineyard team picked over 13 tons of Sauvignon Blanc at the Spring Valley Ranch. It was a perfect morning, clear skies and cool temperatures as the sun rose in the East. The first truck of fruit arrived at the winery’s original crush pad (now the Guest Center) at approximately 9:30 a.m. for a traditional blessing of the grapes led by Bill Phelps and Damian Parker. Long-term employees were singled out for their many years of service, including German Corro “The Maestro” (1974), Constantino Corro (1975), Evelyne Deis (1975), Miguel Loyola (1981), Nino De Rivera Anuar (1981), Damian Parker (1981), Hugo Corro (1982) and Bruce Beatty (1982).
“I am honored to carry on this tradition that began with my father and our dedicated team in 1973,” said Bill Phelps just prior to a sparkling wine toast attended by Joseph Phelps staff.
Director of Winemaking, Damian Parker, a thirty-one year veteran at Joseph Phelps Vineyards, had this historical harvest perspective, “Every harvest is different, yet when a milestone year comes up like this one, it reconfirms in my mind the commitment by the Phelps family to making great wine. Someone asked me what were my most memorable harvests, and really, they all are. Every year brings something new and exciting, whether it’s a new challenge in the vineyard, the weather not cooperating, or a new piece of equipment to master. It all becomes part of the history, the legacy we have been entrusted to carry on. I’m honored to be a part of this team each day.”
In the following weeks, Viognier was picked at both the Spring Valley estate and the Larry Hyde & Sons Vineyard in Carneros and our first red grapes were picked on September 28th at Backus Vineyard in Oakville. The final pick day was on October 29that our Banca Dorada Vineyard in Rutherford.
“Overall flavors came out of the fermentations faster than recent vintages with more flashy fruit characteristics and roundness on the palate. The Syrah’s are lush with classic white pepper notes and beautiful seamless texture. 2012 Insignia is looking to be exceptional. I am anticipating all five Bordeaux varietals to be included in the blend, like in 2011. Each of these varieties had great quality this year. Weather was on our side this year, allowing flavor development and concentration in each vineyard and each block of every variety to show very well,” noted Winemaker, Ashley Hepworth.
The last tanks were drained and pressed by the end of November, finishing up an extraordinarily successful 40th Napa Valley harvest at Joseph Phelps Vineyards.
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.’
2009/ Blend and Grape Sources
83% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Petit Verdot and 4% Malbec from 100% estate-grown Napa Valley vineyards that break down as followes: Stags Leap District (26% Barboza Vineyard and 24% Las Rocas Vineyard), St. Helena (27% Spring Valley Ranch Vineyard), Napa Valley (11% Suscol Vineyard) and Oak Knoll District (6% Yountville Vineyard).
Harvest Dates September 15 - October 11, 2009
Grapes were picked in the cool dawn hours, sorted and moved to stainless steel tanks for a cold soak of three to five days. Following fermentation, we extended macerations of up to forty days adding to the rich, vibrant hue, a fuller mouth feel and more concentrated, intense flavors in the young wines prior to their 24 months of new French oak aging using coopers Taransaud, Dargaud Jaegle, Nadalie, Demptos, Marcel Cadet and Sylvain. 2009 Insignia was bottled in January 2012.
The 2009 Insignia has a beautiful deep garnet hue with incredible depth and concentration. Aromas of freshly crushed blueberries and blackberries intertwined with baking spices, cigar box and attractive floral notes are followed by seamless tannins, texture and finish. This wine is focused and fresh, with a youthful showiness.
The 2009 growing season was marked by normal spring rainfall that ended in early May to help recharge the soil moisture profile just in time for a heat spike in mid-May. June and July were cooler months, August recorded normal weather patterns and September was warmer than normal. Evening temperatures during the warm patterns remained cool enough to allow for better vine recovery from each day’s heat. Veraison began during the first two weeks of August and Brix levels at harvest rarely exceeded 25˚. The color and concentration combined with flavor development, were good indicators that full maturity had been achieved. Grapes selected for the Insignia blend were picked prior to the October rains experienced in Napa Valley.
September 1, 2012