2015 Insignia Awarded 97 Points by Jeb Dunnuck
Jeb Dunnuck's North Coast Report awarded the latest Joseph Phelps wine releases with outstanding reviews, including 97 points for 2015 Insignia. We invite you to read the reviews:
2015 Insignia – 97 Points
The 2015 Insignia is a fleshy, flamboyant vintage for this wine and reminds me of the 1997. Tons of dark fruits, tobacco, cedar, and dried flower notes all give way to a full-bodied, seamless 2015 that has remarkable purity and elegance, yet still shows the vintage’s sexy style. Drink it any time over the coming two to three decades.
2016 Insignia – (96-98) Points
Not yet bottled, the 2016 Insignia should match – or exceed – the 2015, yet it shows a slightly more vibrant, cooler, more classic character. Vibrant notes of crème de cassis, violets, crushed rocks, and lead pencil all give way to a full-bodied 2016 that has silky tannins, no hard edges, and thrilling purity of fruit. It’s going to be reasonably approachable on release, yet I suspect won’t hit prime time until 4-5 years after the vintage and should cruise for 2-3 decades. (September 2019 Release)
2015 Cabernet Sauvignon, Backus Vineyard – 98 Points
The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Backus Vineyard is a blockbuster that does everything right, and I’m probably underrating this beauty. Incorporating a small amount of Petit Verdot and Malbec (which are always co-fermented), this deeply colored beauty gives up a massive bouquet of smoked black fruits, graphite, cassis, and tobacco leaf, with more minerality and black licorice with time in the glass. Possessing full-bodied richness, a mouthfilling decadence, sweet tannins, and a meaty, powerful style, count yourself lucky if you have any of this in the cellar. It will continue drinking beautifully for three decades or more. (Member-Exclusive Sold Out)
2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Backus Vineyard – (97-99) Points
A different beast, the 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Backus Vineyard offers the more classic, cooler, focused style of the vintage, yet is unquestionably in the same qualitative ballpark as the 2015. Vibrant notes of crème de cassis, damp earth, and ample rocky minerality all emerge from this full-bodied, classic, structured Backus Vineyard that’s going to need a good 7-8 years of bottle age. It’s a stunner. (Member-Exclusive Fall 2019 Release)
2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley – 91 Points
The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley comes from six different estate vineyards and was brought up in a mix of French and American oak. It’s a seamless, pretty, medium-bodied effort that has plenty of complexity in its Bordeaux-like bouquet of cassis, leafy herbs, green tobacco, and violets. Drink it over the coming 15+ years.
2016 Syrah, Larry Hyde & Sons Vineyard – 93 Points
The 2016 Syrah Larry Hyde & Sons Vineyard comes from a warmer section of Carneros and was fermented with 60% whole clusters and brought up in 30% new puncheons. A Côte Rôtie look-alike, it boasts a stunning bouquet of sweet raspberries fruits, bacon fat, lavender, and ground pepper. This medium-bodied, seamless Syrah shows more and more floral characteristics with time in the glass, has light tannins, and perfect balance, all making for a thrilling Syrah. Drink it any time over the coming decade or so. (Member-Exclusive Fall 2019 Release)
2016 Pinot Noir, Freestone Vineyards – 94 Points
I was also able to taste a number of releases from Sonoma, all of which are more than noteworthy. Starting with the 2016 Pinot Noir Freestone Vineyards, this fragrant, nuanced red offers lots of darker cherry, macerated strawberries, forest floor, and sweet spice-laced aromatics. It’s medium-bodied, supple, and straight-up delicious on the palate, with tons to love. Drink it any time over the coming 7-8 years.
2016 Pinot Noir, Quarter Moon Vineyard – 96 Points
The 2016 Pinot Noir Quarter Moon Vineyard, from a 40-acre site located west of Freestone, offers a deeper, more savory, foresty character as well as plenty of black raspberry fruits, allspice, dried flowers, cedar, and loamy earth. This beautiful, layered, multi-dimensional Pinot Noir has terrific depth of fruit, a seamless texture, high yet integrated acidity, and a great finish. It’s another brilliant wine from this team. (Winery-Only Spring 2019 Release)
2016 Pinot Noir, Pastorale Vineyard – 96 Points
Last of the Pinot Noirs, the 2016 Pinot Noir Pastorale Vineyard is from a slightly larger vineyard located north of Freestone (south of Occidental). It’s a mix of two clones (777 and Calera), saw a small amount of stems, and was brought up mostly in neutral barrels. Its medium ruby color is followed by a thrilling perfume of sweet strawberries, dried flowers, red currants, and forest floor, with even a hint of white truffle. Ripe, supple, and more forward and sexy than the Quarter Moon release, this beauty has fine tannins and impeccable balance, and is just a total joy to drink. It’s going to evolve nicely on its balance over the coming decade. (Winery-Only Spring 2019 Release)