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News

 Robert Parker Awards Three Perfect Insignia Scores in Historical Tasting Report

We are pleased to share Robert Parker's Insignia Historical Tasting (1974-2012) report for The Wine Advocate, which includes three perfect 100 point scores for the 1991, 1997 and 2002 vintages

"To say I was honored to be at the table with Joe and Bob (Parker) discussing a wine like the 1974 Insignia, would be an understatement. I will always cherish that afternoon," said Winemaker, Ashley Hepworth. "I am continually impressed by how beautiful the 1974 Insignia is as well as the 1978, 1985, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2001 and 2002. It's impossible to pick just one favorite."

"The 1974 Insignia was truly amazing. My favorites from the other decades would be the 1985, 1994 and 2002. The 2012 is going to be spectacular," commented Director of Winemaking, Damian Parker. "2012 Insignia is only getting better and better with each day of barrel aging."

"I was so very pleased my father was able to attend the tasting," stated Bill Phelps. "Joseph Phelps Vineyards is one of my father's great accomplishments. For me, the tasting continued my love affair with the 1991 Insignia. I thought the 1974 and 2002 vintages were also stunning. 2007 Insignia onward were just incredible, but they really are still so young and have yet to reveal their full greatness."

 

2013 Napa Valley Harvest

The 2013 Napa Valley harvest began with the picking of Sauvignon Blanc on August 14th, which was two weeks earlier than in 2012. Our first reds were picked on September 13th at the St. Helena Home Ranch, which was approximately sixteen days earlier than the last three vintages. The dry growing season and nearly perfect weather pushed the vines forward almost two weeks, starting with bloom occurring early and veraison following a similar pattern.  The warm weather over Labor Day weekend pushed sugar levels in many vineyards; we carefully irrigated and waited for the rest of the flavors in the grapes to catch up with the sugars before picking. Our final day of picking took place on October 16th, again at the St. Helena Home Ranch. 

"The moderate weather all summer developed great flavor, color and tannin across the board. We had plenty of fermentation space and the flow of grapes was very consistent. Early tastings indicate that 2013 will be another very high quality year," said Director of Winemaking, Damian Parker. 

"There is a great purity of fruit in the 2013 wines, good structure and overall an excellent winegrowers vintage. Wines are all in barrel aging at this point and evolving beautifully," stated Winemaker, Ashley Hepworth.

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History

Joseph Phelps Vineyards is a family-owned and operated wine estate with vineyards and wineries in Napa Valley and on the western Sonoma Coast. The winery was founded in 1973 by Joseph Phelps, a successful construction executive and entrepreneur whose early interest in wine led him to establish vineyards on a 670-acre former cattle ranch in Napa Valley. Over the next 42 years Joe became one of the most respected figures in the California wine industry, building Joseph Phelps Vineyards into a critically-acclaimed winery internationally known for its iconic wines and unwavering commitment to quality.

Joe’s son, Bill Phelps, joined the family business in 1998 after a successful career in law, and as Executive Chairman now oversees Joseph Phelps Vineyards with a continued dedication to excellence. The winery’s Board of Directors includes Joe’s daughters, Leslie, Laurie and Lynn. In 2016, third generation family members Elizabeth Neuman, Director of Business Development & Marketing, and Will Phelps, the winery’s Director of Hospitality & Consumer Sales were appointed to the winery’s executive management team. Today, the Phelps family is committed to maintaining and nurturing Joseph Phelps Vineyards as a family-owned and run winery and to extending the extraordinary legacy of its founder, Joe Phelps.

 

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Vineyards

Our family owns and farms 425 acres of vines in Napa Valley on nine estate vineyards in St. Helena, Rutherford, Oakville, Stags Leap District, Oak Knoll District, South Napa and Carneros, as well as 100 acres over two vineyards on the western Sonoma Coast. Strategically chosen over many decades, each vineyard has its own personality and brings a different characteristic to our wines. Our commitment to an estate-based model is our way of ensuring consistency and the highest quality we can possibly achieve. Our estate vineyards, paired with select long-term grower relationships, give our winemaking teams unparalleled depth and diversity when it comes to producing Joseph Phelps wines.

At Joseph Phelps Vineyards, our philosophy is to maintain, preserve and (where possible and appropriate) ecologically enhance the natural vineyard environment.

While this goal is essential for present vineyard practices, it will have an even more profound effect on the development of maturing vineyards in the future. In order to achieve the greatest possible ecological health in and around our vineyards, we continue to build upon the sustainable vineyard practices we have been using since the early 1980s, and gradually but steadily we are embracing a style of farming known as “biodynamic agriculture” or simply, “biodynamics.”

 

The Biodynamic agriculture we practice at Phelps rests upon an ecological foundation of seven key elements:

  1. Appropriate Production is the very basic building block of all good farming. It involves a very careful selection of what to grow and where.
  2. Biodiversity is nature’s fundamental premise. It aims at helping as many plant and critter species as possible grow, coexist, and mutually support each other.
  3. Soil Fertility includes a focus on proper levels of organic matter, good humus content and healthy microbial activity in the soil (bacteria, fungi, yeasts, protozoa, etc.). At JPV, we have produced our own biodynamic compost since 1999 to foster our soil humus.
  4. Natural Crop Nutrition. This means that we are increasingly feeding compost to our vines and cover crops, herbs, flowers and orchards. Done correctly, compost produces nutrient-rich, microbial-rich, moist, spongy, sweet-smelling and long-lasting humus.
  5. Whole Farm Self-Sustainability. Creating heal thy soils and producing a bio-diverse set of crops is the ideal of any self-sustaining farm.
  6. Integration of Domestic Animals. Currently, we do not have any large domestic animals but we are contemplating having some in the future. We bring manure from a local dairy farm to make our compost and use as much of our own plant rests as possible, such as pomace from our winery.
  7. Biologically Integrated Pest, Disease and Weed Prevention and Management. Healthy plants grown on healthy soil are better fit to naturally resist pest and disease attacks. Thus, this system produces the optimal foundation for pest and disease prevention.
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Inside information

The quality of the wine Insignia represents the classic big Napa wine, with an abundance of jammed black fruits, profound toastiness with vanilla, and a mouth-filling, opulent texture with tender tannins. The terroir The secret of complexity in the Insignia relies on the blend of Cabernets from various sites. The high awareness of the soil compositions and their interaction with vines and rootstocks are well understood and followed by biodynamic practices. The grapes used for Insignia originate from four different vineyards with deep soils and various compositions – silty clay, gravel, volcanic rock, and pebbles. It is the combination of all these that gives Insignia its complex flavour. Philosophy in winemaking In the beginning Insignia was made from the best grapes available during any given year, but the concept changed slightly in 1977. “We wanted to make the best blend of Bordeaux varieties – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc – from our vineyards and that continued until 1989. At that time our focus changed from sourcing grower fruit to using our own estate vineyards.” Kathie Fowler, Director of Communications points out. The 2004 was the first 100% “Estate” Insignia. The most significant change in production and style came about because of phylloxera. “When we replanted to better rootstocks and clones, and employed better vineyard architecture (soil preparation, drainage, spacing, trellising) and better farming techniques, the quality and the expression of the wines improved.”

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, Robert Parker of The Wine Advocate awarded three perfect 100 point scores to the 1991, 1997 and 2002 vintages of Insignia in his Historical Tasting of Joseph Phelps Vineyards Insignia (1974-2012) report.

Owner: Phelps Family Founded: 1972 First vintage: 1974 Location: St Helena Vineyard size: 72 acres Average age of vines: 10.5 years Production: 14,000 cases Vineyard manager:Philippe Pesserau Winemaker: Ashley Hepworth

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10 different wines with 85 vintages

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Wine Moments

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 Joseph Phelps  has updated producer and wine information

2m 30d ago

 Joseph Phelps  has updated producer and wine information

4m 14d ago

 Pekka Nuikki / Editor of the Fine Wine Magazines, Pro (Finland)  tasted  1 wines  from  Joseph Phelps . In a tasting of  22 wines 

Heitz Martha's Vineyard 1974. Still a big, powerful wine that sums up the richness of this perfect Napa vintage. It is densely fruity, spicy with an enormous black plum and minty fruit character to go with the acidity. It's concentrated while still showing such wonderfully pure fruit. This is a monumental, eternal wine!

5m 17d ago

 Jamie Goode, Wine Writer (United Kingdom)  tasted  3 wines  from  Joseph Phelps . In a tasting of  18 wines 

Beaulieu Georges de Latour Private Reserve 1970 / It's a rare treat to be able to try an old Californian classic like this. Sweet open spicy nose with some herby fruit showing a savoury, spicy, earthy/meaty edge. The palate is soft and spicy with some American oak still showing. Tarry and sweet with some evolution in the glass. Very nice, this historical old wine. Very good+ 88/100

7m 20d ago

 Joseph Phelps  has updated producer and wine information

9m 3d ago

 James Suckling., Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Joseph Phelps . In a tasting of  21 wines 

Château Mouton-Rothschild 1959 / Another perfect bottle. This has been a long-time favorite with mint and fresh basil, as well as currants and dried fruits on the nose. It turns to dried flowers. Full-bodied with spices, berries, and light eucalyptus character. Christmas cake too. Full body with velvety tannins. This bottle was almost mid-shoulder height, but it was a perfect wine. 100 points

9m 4d ago

 Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Joseph Phelps . In a tasting of  15 wines 

Shafer Hillside Select Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 / In the running for the wine of the vintage, the 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Hillside Select is an incredible success and offers more depth, opulence, and purity than just about every other wine out there. Revealing a dense purple color as well as a killer nose of blueberries, chocolate-covered cherries, scorched earth, tobacco, violets, and exotic spices, it hits the palate with full-bodied richness, a seamless, pure, incredibly layered mouthfeel, building tannins, and a great, great finish. As with most top 2017s, it stays tight and compact on the palate, with notable structure and impressive concentration. It has some up-front appeal given its purity of fruit and balance, yet it's going to take 7-8 years to hit prime time and will be a long-lived bottle of Napa Cabernet. Hats off to Doug Shafer and the team for yet another magical Cabernet Sauvignon!

9m 22d ago

 Joseph Phelps  has updated producer and wine information

1y 3m ago

 Achim Becker / Wineterminator.com, Wine Writer (Germany)  tasted  1 wines  from  Joseph Phelps . In a tasting of  15 wines 

The Rewards of Patience - from Cheval Blanc 1955 to Harlan Estate 2010.

1y 3m ago

 Jeb Dunnuck, Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  1 wines  from  Joseph Phelps . In a tasting of  18 wines 

Dominus 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon checks in as 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc, and 5% Petit Verdot brought up in 40% new French oak. With an essence of Cabernet-like character in its darker currants, green tobacco, cedar, graphite, and floral aromas and flavors, this gorgeous wine is full-bodied and has bright yet integrated acidity, polished tannins, and a great, great finish. It’s just gorgeously put together and a magical, flawless wine. It's going to take a decade to hit maturity but will evolve for 40-50 years in cold cellars. It is as good as it gets in classic, age-worthy Cabernet Sauvignon!

1y 4m ago

 James Suckling., Wine Writer (United States)  tasted  2 wines  from  Joseph Phelps . In a tasting of  27 wines 

Petrus 2015 / The aromas to this are a reference for Pomerol with truffles, black olives, black licorice and dark fruit. Even brown sugar. Full-bodied, layered and multi-dimensional. Chocolate underlines the character above. The perfect tannin texture, length and balance make you think you're dreaming. All about harmony and beauty. Love to taste it now but needs at least five or six years. 100p

1y 8m ago

 Joseph Phelps  has updated producer and wine information

1y 9m ago

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