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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.’
89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot and 4% Merlot from 100% estate-owned Napa Valley vineyards which break down as follows: Napa Valley, 32% (Suscol Vineyard in South Napa), Stags Leap District, 27% (14% Barboza Vineyard and 13% Las Rocas Vineyard), Oak Knoll District, 23% (Yountville Vineyard), St. Helena, 13% (Spring Valley Ranch Vineyards) and Rutherford, 5% (Banca Dorada Vineyard).
The grapes selected for Insignia were handpicked during early morning cool temperatures between September 9 – October 24, 2008, at an average 24.5o Brix and hand sorted. Grapes received 5 days of cold soaking in stainless steel tanks before fermentation, followed by extended maceration of up to 40 days, adding to the rich, vibrant hue, a fuller mouthfeel and more concentrated, intense flavors in the young wines prior to their aging for 24 months in 100% new French oak from coopers Taransaud, Dargaud Jaegle, Nadalie, Demptos and Sylvain. Each barrel type was carefully selected to highlight the unique terroir of the given vineyard location.
The 2008 Insignia boasts aromatic layers of dark roasted coffee and graphite. The seductive mouth-feel has excellent length, intensely ripe black fruit, minerality and creaminess that tie together seamlessly on the palate.
The 2008 growing season started out with lower than normal rainfall for the second year in a row and the longest cold and frosty spring recorded since 1971.
May brought unusually high temperatures in the midst of bloom during the latter part of the month. Such drastic weather changes lead to imbalances in the vine, especially at this important time in the lifecycle, prompting flower fertilization to cease prematurely in some Cabernet Sauvignon clones. Surprisingly, this was a blessing in disguise leading to looser and lighter cluster formation. This natural thinning allowed adequate airflow within the clusters during maturation and also nicely balanced out the crop load on each vine. June, July and August had consistently warm temperatures that led to even and healthy vine development.
The overall heat accumulation for September and October was much higher than our nineteen year average by 7 to 17 percent respectively. We began picking Cabernet Sauvignon in our Backus Vineyard on September 8th and concluded harvest on October 24th in our St. Helena Ranch Vineyard. Overall the 2008 vintage yielded high-quality tannins resulting in age-worthy Cabernets.
September 1, 2011