Press Reviews
Press Reviews
★ 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.

★ (90-92) Points - The Wine Advocate

Its saturated dark ruby color is followed by abundant notes of Asian spices, strawberries, cherries, a hint of underbrush and a medium-bodied, rich mouthfeel with good acidity, but no oak poking through. Consume over the next 5-7 years. 

★ 3 Stars - The Press Democrat

Delicious tangy fruit, herbs and white pepper. Great acid, with a crisp finish. Striking.

★ 90+ Points - Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

Good dark red with ruby tones. Dark aromas of plum, cassis and bitter chocolate, lifted by a pungent violet note. Not a fleshy style but pristine and vibrant, offering flavors of blackberry, spices and licorice pastille. Finishes with very good length and perfume but this wine really needs another year or so in the bottle to express its personality. 

★ 94 Points - PinotFile

Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. The nose is complex and persistent with hi-tone aromas of dark cherry, blackberry, forest floor, spice and red licorice. A seamless wine with serious extract of black raspberry and blackberry fruits nicely accented with spice and oak. The finish is remarkably intense, leaving quite an impression. Probably the most concentrated Pinot Noir ever from this very cool locale, yet displays the cool-climate vibrancy to support the fruit load. A beauty that will attract many fans.

★ 92 points - California Grapevine

Medium ruby with a purplish tinge; attractive, forward, deep, moderately intense, ripe black cherry fruit aroma with a hint of mocha; medium to medium-full body; rich, deep, firmly structured, red fruit flavors with some herbal notes and bright acidity; medium to medium-full tannin; lingering aftertaste. Shows good aging potential, deserving to be laid down for another three to five more years. Very highly recommended.

★ 92 Points - WineReviewOnline.com

This Joseph Phelps Pinot Noir offers a rich, layered palate that shows a complex array of red and black fruit aromas, earthy minerality, and excellent persistence through the finish. It finishes with a bit of heat on the back end, but otherwise this is a well-balanced, beautiful Pinot.

★ Recommended - SNOW Magazine

Sultry, dark cherry and savory herbs with stony accents and rich mouthfeel. 

★ (91-93) Points - Antonio Galloni's Vinous

The 2012 Chardonnay Freestone Vineyards impresses for its cut, energy and tension. Lemon, white flowers, mint and crushed rocks are all very much alive in a wine that impresses for its vivid flavors and pure sense of mineral drive. I tasted the 2012 from tank just prior to bottling. 

★ (91-94) Points - The Wine Advocate

More tropical in nature, it is a juicy white displaying notes of pineapples, apricot marmalade, wet gravel and a hint of honeyed citrus. With crisp acids, a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel and a long finish, it can be drunk over the next 5-6 years. 

★ 92 Points - Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

Inviting aromas of musky orange oil and hazelnutty, sulfidey lees. Savory and aromatic in the mouth, with vibrant acidity giving shape to the viscous mid-palate. Peach and spice flavors are complicated by minerals and earth. Finishes strong and perfumed. An excellent showing.

★ 93 Points - PinotFile

Light golden yellow color in the glass. A knockout nose features bright, fresh aromas of apple, yellow grapefruit, lemon zest and ocean air. Delicious and refreshing, with flavors of lemon curd, grapefruit, gooseberry and a hint of toasty oak. The finish is alive with lemon-driven, stony acidity and lasts and lasts. Bring on the oysters.

★ 4 Stars "A Standout" - The Press Democrat

This is a gorgeous Chardonnay with great complexity. Rich, with aromas and flavors of stone fruit, lemon, crème brûlée and brioche. Lingering finish. A standout. 

★ 90 Points - California Grapevine

Medium-light golden yellow; attractive, earthy, citrussy, pear and apple aroma; medium-full body; crisp, lemony, pear and apple flavors with complimenting, well integrated oak; lingering aftertaste. Well balanced and deserving a few more years of bottle aging. Very highly recommended. 

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

It has plenty of tactile presence, and both its aromas and flavors smack of citrus, toast, green apples and roasted nuts without being overtly fruity.

★ 96 Points - WineReviewOnline.com

The purchase of Freestone Vineyards some years ago was a stroke of genius by Phelps, allowing the Napa Valley winery to stretch itself with a serious peek into the world of Burgundian-style Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Almost since its inception the Phelps Chardonnays from the Freestone Vineyards have ranked among the finest in California, and this 2012 is no exception. It possesses that rare combination of power and elegance, with layered complexity, mouth-filling texture and, most important, backbone. This vintage exhibits aromas of lemon oil and spice, with mouth-watering acidity and a long, persistent finish.

★ 94 points, Cellar Selection - The Wine Enthusiast

Made from estate-grown fruit near the chilly Sonoma Coast town of Freestone, this is a fully layered wine, expertly balanced in acidity yet offering plenty of full-figured mouthfeel and viscous pleasure. It delivers an electric mix of Meyer lemon, minerals and brioche, and will please a diverse range of palates. –V.B.

★ Recommended - SNOW Magazine

Juicy, apricot and lemon notes with creamy texture and a long finish. 

★ (91-93) Points - Antonio Galloni's Vinous

A beautiful, layered wine, the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon wraps around the palate with gorgeous depth. Radiant, expressive and nuanced, the 2012 captures the essence of the year in its generous, inviting personality. Soft, silky tannins frame the voluptuous finish.

★ 91 Points - Antonio Galloni's Vinous

The 2011 wraps around the palate with gorgeous depth and radiance. Sweet plum, black cherries, menthol, licorice and leather notes flesh out in an expressive, layered Syrah loaded with class and personality.

★ 90 Points - Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

The 2011 Pinot Noir Quarter Moon Vineyard reveals notes of charcuterie, cherry jam and hints of raspberries and lavender. This rich, medium to full-bodied, strong 2011 should drink nicely for 5-6 years.

★ 95 Points, Cellar Selection - The Wine Enthusiast

Credit the cool vintage for this Pinot's mouthwatering acidity. The wine is rich but pristine with fruit, a testament to Phelps' superb viticultural practices and attention to detail at the sorting table. It's dry and crisp, yet rich and delicious, with flavors of strawberry and raspberry jam, rosehip tea and cedar. The tannins give the wine a velvety grip. As good as it is now; it would be a shame not to cellar it. 

★ 91+ - International Wine Cellar

Good bright red with ruby highlights, the darkest of these three 2011 pinots. Highly spicy aromas of licorice and black tea. Savory and quite dry, with salty minerality currently holding the upper hand over dark berries. Gained sweetness and pliancy with aeration but this is in a much more muscular style than the Pastorale. 

★ 93 Points - International Wine Cellar

Good dark, bright red. Sexy nose combines crushed cherry, cranberry, brown spices and earthly undertones, plus some smoky oak. Sweeter, deeper and lusher than the regular Sonoma Coast bottling, with the bracing cherry and raspberry fruit flavors accented by pepper, cola and dusty herbs. At once sappy and generous, boasting excellent mid=palate lift. Finishes dry and broad, with terrific peppery persistence. 

★ 93 Points, Cellar Selection - The Wine Enthusiast

The vineyard is located in the western part of Sonoma County, near the little town of Freestone. The cool 2011 vintage lends mouthwatering acidity to the wine, brightening flavors of red apples, pomegranates and persimmons. Right now, it's juvenile and tight, with primary fruits that are unintegrated with oak. Give it at least eight years in the cellar, and it could be going strong at the age of fifteen. 

★ 93 Points - Antonio Galloni's Vinous

Just as beautiful in bottle as it was from barrel, the 2011 Pinot Noir Pastorale has developed beautifully over the last year. Silky on the palate yet wonderfully exotic in its flavors, the 2011 impresses for its balance and class. Orange peel, star anise and spices add nuance to the bright, cranberry-inflected fruit. This gracious, utterly impeccable Pinot is simply striking today. 

★ (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.

★ (93-95) Points - Antonio Galloni's Vinous

The 2011 Insignia is showing beautifully today. The cool vintage has given the 2011 distinctively European leanings in both the flavors and structure. At the same time, there is tons of energy and pure vibrancy in the glass.

★ 92 Points - JamesSuckling.com

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. 

★ 91 Points - Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar

Nicely perfumed nose offers scents of currant, plum, tobacco, mocha and dark chocolate. Plush and sweet on the palate... there's plenty of texture and depth here. Dark berry flavors are complicated by subtle tobacco leaf, menthol and dried herb nuances. Finishes plummy and sweet, with big building tannins and lots of sexy oak...

★ 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.

★ 92 Points - Antonio Galloni's Vinous

The 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon emerges from the glass with mocha, tobacco, grilled herbs, smoke, licorice, incense and orange peel. An exotic, layered wine, the 2011 impresses for its length and pure persistence. The style is that of a cold year, which means the tannins are a bit firm and in need of further bottle age. This is a beautiful wine for the year, but also in its own right.

★ 91 Points - JamesSuckling.com

Aromas of terrcotta, clay, red earth, cocoa and berry. Full body with round, velvety tannins and a juicy finish. Very well done for 2011. Better in 2016.

★ Recommended - San Francisco Chronicle

A more vibrant style than I've tasted from Phelps in a while. Evocative of years past - and at more than 15,000 cases harvested from all over Napa, a sign of quality at scale. It's smoky, almost meaty, in its aromas, with lots of fresh plum and coffee. Well-suited to the vintage.

★ 95 Points - Robert Parker's The Wine Advocate

The stunning 2010 Insignia, which is now in bottle, was made from 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Petit Verdot and the rest Merlot and Malbec. A gorgeously intense bouquet of lead pencil shavings, spring flowers, black currants, blackberries, and subtle smoke and foresty aromas jumps from the glass of this full-bodied, rich, concentrated wine with soft tannins, a multidimensional mouthfeel, and a long, rich finish displaying well-integrated acidity, tannin, alcohol and wood. This beauty is one of the top Insignias produced over recent years.

★ 94 Points, Spectator Collectible Selection - The Wine Spectator

Firm, dense and deeply concentrated, this offers a powerful thrust of flavors, with mocha- and espresso-laced blackberry, black licorice and cedar notes, revving up on the finish. Pure, driven and persistent, this seems set for a long life. Best to cellar. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Merlot and Malbec. Best from 2015 through 2028.

★ 96+ Points - Antonio Galloni's Vinous

Dark plums, graphite, pencil shavings, smoke and licorice all jump from the glass... The tannins are sweet, layered and impeccably balanced, which makes me think the 2010 will enjoy a long drinking window once it softens. The 2010 is a beautiful, silky Insignia, but it needs time. Drinking window: 2018-2030

★ 97 Points & Cellar Selection - #29 Top 100 Cellar Selections of 2014 - The Wine Enthusiast

This is, as always, a gorgeous wine, rich, balanced and delicious. It shows classic Napa Valley ripeness, with blackberry jam, plum, dark chocolate and sweet oak flavors. Plush and velvety doesn’t begin to do it justice. Despite it’s fabulous lushness, this is a wine to age. Depending on your taste, it will provide excellence from now until 2030. #29 Top 100 Cellar Selections of 2014