Jeb Dunnuck 96-98
Much more expressive and complex compared to the backward, masculine Backus Vineyard (which is common when comparing these two cuvées), the 2019 Insignia offers a gorgeous perfume of crème de cassis, chocolate, lavender, dried flowers, tobacco, and leafy herbs. Possessing full-bodied richness, a layered, seamless texture, gorgeous tannins, and just a classy, balanced character, this beauty is going to shine with just 3-4 years of bottle age yet still cruise in cold cellars for 30 years. It actually reminds me slightly of the 1997.
Robert Parker 96-98
The 2019 Insignia is composed of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot and 2% Malbec. The vineyard sources this year include: 32% Yountville (Oak Knoll District), 23% Banca Dorada (Rutherford), 14% Suscol (South Napa Valley), 14% Home Ranch (St. Helena), 12% Las Rocas (Stags Leap District), 3% Barboza (Stags Leap District) and 2% El Venadito (Oak Knoll District). The wine is aging for 24 months in 100% new French oak barrels. Deep garnet-purple in color, it needs a little swirling to unlock a gorgeous perfume of black cherry compote, stewed plums and blackcurrant pastilles with hints of bay leaves, red roses, underbrush and pencil lead plus a hint of menthol. Medium to full-bodied, the palate delivers impactful black fruit preserves layers with finely grained tannins and seamless freshness, finishing long and layered. 18,000 cases are due to be made. (Tasted as a barrel sample.)
Jane Anson 97
The classic Joseph Phelps bottling, released this year after three years of ageing in barrel and bottle. Espresso, cocoa bean, cassis, earth, crushed rock, leather, finely sculpted tannins in this most balanced of Napa vintages. The 2019 Insignia marks the first vintage to include fruit from the new Joseph Phelps vineyard named El Venadito, located in the Oak Knoll District, just south of the winery’s Yountville Vineyard. Owned by LVMH at time of release, but made under the former owners.
Anticipated maturity: 2024-2040
Smells ripe and heady on the nose, expressive and seductive. This is rich and bold, it’s edging on too much, with lots of wood on show in the slightly heavy texture, liquorice and coffee flavour and fullness in the mouth but there are such alluring and captivating aspects to this wine with striking details of rose, tobacco, blackberry, red berries and dark chocolate shavings on show. I like the fragranced aspects and the energetic acidity that gives lift and a sense of brightness but this is a strong, powerful and muscular wine that will need at least a decade to come around. Given enough time it will be beautiful. Ageing 24 months in 100% new French oak.
Anticipated maturity: 2032-2050