Press Reviews
Press Reviews
★ 91 Points - The Wine Enthusiast

Floral and exotic, the tingling acidity in this wine is the standout, but it’s equally buoyed by a mouth-filling texture adorned by a sensation of fresh-squeezed lime and grapefruit. Balanced, this lovely Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc should convince one and all of the variety’s regional merit.

★ 90 Points - "Year's Best Sauvignon Blanc" Report - Wine & Spirits

Laden with oak, this wine takes time to reveal its bright pineapple flavors. It's both tart and sweetly ripe, finishing clean. For planked salmon.

★ 91 Points - Wine & Spirits

Joseph Phelps made a significant bet on coastal Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in 1999, stepping outside of Napa to develop 100 acres of vineyards in the fog-cooled hills near Freestone. Those vines now grow a polished and silky Pinot, with sunny fruit sweetness that suggests candied cherries. Savory scents of vineyard dust and tea leaves contrast that juicy fruit, while citrusy acidity gives it a toned edge.

★ 93 Points - Antonio Galloni's Vinous

A wine of pure energy, the 2013 Chardonnay Pastorale Vineyard is all about intensity. There is an attractive oiliness to the fruit, yet the flavors remain bright and nuanced throughout. Lemon oil, almonds and white pepper are laced into the highly expressive finish.

★ 91+ Points - Antonio Galloni's Vinous

The 2013 Chardonnay Freestone Vineyard is quite pretty, but it is very tight today, most likely the result of its recent bottling. Lemon curd, chamomile and white pepper blossom in this expressive Chardonnay.

★ 92 Points & "Year's Best Chardonnay" Report - Wine & Spirits

There's a taut and penetrating depth of flavor at the core of this chardonnay, from a wind-cooled vineyard among the redwoods near Freestone. It's resolutely dry, with a tangy blood-orange verve, the grip of oak and creaminess of lees providing a context from the clean intensity of the fruit. 

★ 92 Points - The Tasting Panel

Tangy acidity and elegant fruit; crisp and juicy with lively new oak and considerable finesse; rounded and polished with a long, fresh finish.

★ 90 Points, 1 Star - Connoisseurs' Guide to California Wine

The push for lower alcohol in California wine is going to produce bottlings like this in which the price for restraint is a slight bit of “greenness” in the fruit. But with that moderate narrowing comes a tighter, brighter balance that will appeal to those who prefer the added minerality and tartness of the style.

★ 91+ Points - Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

Earthy and ruby-colored as well as crisp and fresh is the 2012 Pinot Noir Quarter Moon Vineyard. With abundant notes of blackberries and raspberries intermixed with a notion of wet pebbles that gives the wine a striking minerality as well as medium to full-bodied flavors, this tight, backward, promising 2012 Pinot will benefit from another year or so of bottle age, and should drink well for 10-15 years.

★ 94 points, Cellar Selection - The Wine Enthusiast

This sophisticated, pretty Pinot Noir is brilliant in exotic cherry, raspberry and earth. Bright and lush on the palate, the tannins are firmly structured and nicely rendered with a twinge of sweet tobacco and a subtle power that builds on the finish.

★ 93 Points - Antonio Galloni's Vinous

Another rich, intense Pinot, the 2012 Pinot Noir Quarter Moon Vineyard offers plenty of power, but the profile is a bit more savory and mineral-driven than in the Pastorale, with less mid-palate exuberance and plenty of persistence. Hints of rose petal, lavender and cinnamon add the final layers of nuance.

★ 93 Points - Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

Even deeper than the Freestone Vineyards Pinot is the 2012 Pinot Noir Pastorale Vineyard (under 14% alcohol). Its dense ruby hue is followed by a beautiful floral element. Readers will adore the black cherry, plum, clove-infused fruit and relatively full-bodied texture. This promising, high-quality, complex Pinot Noir can be consumed over the next decade or more.

★ 93 Points, Editor's Choice - The Wine Enthusiast

An estate-grown Pinot Noir from the wilds of Freestone, this wine delivers in high acidity and perfumed aromatics that are highlighted by violet and sandalwood. The taste leans toward tart cherry and strawberry. Medium in weight, it's a structured wine, with just the right amount of heft and oak on the finish. 

★ 92 Points - Antonio Galloni's Vinous

The 2012 Pinot Noir Pastorale Vineyard is dark, juicy and explosive. Black cherries, plums, cedar, French oak, new leather and smoke open up in the glass. The style is decidedly virile and dark, with imposing fruit, big tannins and tons of body. This is one of the more powerful, explosive wines readers will taste from the Sonoma Coast. The 30% whole clusters are pretty much buried by the sheer intensity of the fruit. This is an especially big, Sonoma Coast Pinot, which winemaker attributes to Calera and 777 clones.

★ 93 Points - Antonio Galloni's Vinous

Dark red cherries, tobacco and new leather wrap around the palate in the 2012 Pinot Noir Freestone Vineyards. A wine of presence and nuance, the 2012 stands out for its symmetry and overall sense of balance. I very much like the delineation and energy here. The Freestone is a blend of fruit from Quarter Moon (60%) and Pastorale (40%). It shows beautifully next to those wines, despite a significant difference in price. This is the hidden jewel in the range, there is little doubt about that.

★ 91+ Points - The Wine Advocate

The 2012 Pinot Noir Freestone Vineyards offers up beautiful aromas of red stone fruits, crushed rocks, plums, black cherries and a floral component reminiscent of a premier cru or grand cru offering from Chambolle-Musigny. Medium to full-bodied with great acidity, purity, freshness and nobility, it should evolve and add layers of complexity over the next decade.

★ 92 Points - SOMM Journal

Dark, rich and dense with toasty oak and ripe black cherry; smooth, lush and juicy; balanced and long.

★ (96-100) Points - Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

A magnificent Insignia that will be bottled in several months, it boasts an opaque puple color as well as fabulous notes of graphite, blackberries, black currant liqueur, camphor, barbecue smoke and spice box. Rich, full-bodied and opulent with plenty of tannin and structure lurking beneath the extravagant generosity of fruit, this stunning 2012 should drink well for 25-30+ years.

★ 97 Points -

Amazing aromas of blueberry, blackberry, mineral and bark. Complex nose. Full body plus super integrated tannins with superb balance and depth. Coffee and chocolate too. Very long and mind-bending. A tribute to the vintage. Drink or hold. A long life ahead of it. 

★ 93 Points - The Wine Spectator

Packs a wallop... with extracted dark berry flavors and tannic muscle. Aromas of cassis, currant and blackberry... this is built to cellar. 

★ (94-96) Points - Antonio Galloni's Vinous

The 2012 Insignia is one of the most intense, powerful wines of the year. Dark red and black fruit, smoke, mocha, French oak, spices and leather burst from the glass in an explosive red built on texture and structure. 

★ 92 Points - Wine & Spirits

This vintage of Insignia is 75 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 10 percent each Merlot and Petit Verdot, with the balance in Malbec and Franc. It's Phelps's most ambitious red, wearing its oak aging like a thick velvet curtain, but one that pulls aside to reveal deeply saturated flavors of plum, black cherry, cedar and tobacco. There's some delicacy to the wine, apparent in a hint of lavender and rose, carried along on a gracious finish. A great vintage of Insignia, worthy of long aging in a cool cellar. 

★ 94 Points - Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

The 2012 Chardonnay Pastorale Vineyard boasts notes of subtle hazelnuts, apple skins, caramelized white citrus, quince and wet stones. Full-bodied, rich, textured, youthful and vigorous, this beautiful, full but elegant Chardonnay should drink well for 7-8 years.

★ 93 Points - Antonio Galloni's Vinous

The 2012 Chardonnay Pastorale Vineyard is a bit brighter and more lifted in style than the Freestone, with flavors that tend towards the more citrus end of the spectrum. Lemon oil, white flowers, French oak and almonds are some of the notes that open up in the glass. Texturally, the 2012 is soft, oily and nicely textured in the glass, but the flavors remain very much on the bright side of things.

★ 93 Points - International Wine Report

The 2012 Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon instantly grabs your attention with its opaque, deep inky color. After just a bit of air contact it begins to reveal wonderful aromas of ripe cassis, blackberries, dark chocolate and spices along with a touch of dried herbs and an earthy character. This is well structured around a full body that is richly textured and impressive for its depth and concentration. The long, supple finish is laced with a thick coating of delicious dark fruits and spices. This can be approached today, however for those looking to wait, it shows nice aging potential and will certainly benefit from a few additional years in bottle. 

★ 91 Points & Cellar Selection - The Wine Enthusiast

Rich and concentrated in red cherry, cigar and plum, this demurely approachable and enjoyable wine has the legs to age. 

★ 92 Points -

A solid red with currants, berries and hints of licorice and spice. Full body, firm tannins and a long, long finish. Shows length and beauty. 

★ (90-93) Points - Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

Its deep ruby/purple color is followed by sweet aromas of bouquet garni, mint, red and black currants, tobacco leaf and licorice, and a surprisingly intense, full-bodied mouthfeel with more richness and intensity than I would have expected from this vintage. It is also precocious and can be drunk upon release or cellared for 15 or more years.

★ 93 Points - Antonio Galloni's Vinous

The 2011 Insignia is impressive, no doubt about it. In this vintage, it is the wine's length and persistence that stand out most. This is a decidedly Old World style of Insignia with less raciness than is customary. Grilled herbs, smoke, dried rose petal, tobacco and cedar are some of the notes that add complexity. Readers should give the 2011 another few years in bottle for the tannins to soften. This is the first vintage of Insignia that incorporates both Cabernet Franc and Malbec.

★ 92 Points -

A balanced, delicious Insignia for early drinking. Aromas of currants, blueberries and licorice follow through to a full to medium body, fine tannins and a clean finish. Yummy. Drink or hold. 

★ Collector's Corner Recommendation - Decanter

Napa is rising up the wish lists of collectors and, although 2011 is a difficult vintage, Phelps is a fine estate. It's a Bordeaux blend, led by 82% Cabernet Sauvignon.

★ 95 Points - Decanter

Deep and rich nose of cloves, pepper, smoke, coffee and black olives. Great complexity and structure with lovely ripeness and a long, fresh finish. -R.B.

Soft, polished and stylish with superb structure and dark chocolatey fruit. Oak dominates and strong tannins are fine grained, but there is a great texture and a an impressive style, which will evolve as it ages. -A.M.

Sumptuous wine with bold supporting tannins and good acidity. Concentrated, with spice and complexity and a long chocolatey finish. Strives to impress and pulls out all the stops. -S.B.

★ 96 Points & Cellar Selection - The Wine Enthusiast

Impeccable elegance characterizes this vintage of the producer’s marquee Bordeaux-style blend, an expert finessing of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Petit Verdot, 4% Malbec, 2% Merlot and 1% Cabernet Franc. Juicy in exotic black fruit, it stands tall, with silky, towering shoulders of herb, cardamom and clove that will coalesce beautifully over time. Hold through 2026.