Wine Spectator 90 points - Rich and juicy, with layers of blackberry, subtle herb and spice, cedary oak and gravelly earth, accented by shades of tobacco and cigar box. Maintains a consistent weight and range of flavors through the finish. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec. Drink now through 2032. 14,500 cases made. -JL.November/2017
Wine Enthusiast 98 points - The mighty Insignia shows a vibrancy of purpose and craft in this, its 40th vintage, combining 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot, 3% Malbec and 1% Cabernet Franc. Together they find a higher calling of perfumed violet, dark plum and berry along with graphite and an edginess of dried herb. Firm, structured tannins show tremendous potential for aging and decanting. This is a near-perfect effort from a blockbuster vintage..Virginie Boone, December/2016
James Suckling 97 points - The blackberry, dark-chocolate and walnut aromas are persuasive. Full body, a dense and fruity center palate and beautiful depth and intensity. The tannin texture is exceptional. Great wine. Drink in 2020 and onwards. May/2017
Vinous 94-97 points - The 2014 Insignia is shaping up to be one of the surprises of the vintage. A rich, explosive Insignia, the 2014 exudes pedigree. A host of dark red cherry, plum and pomegranate notes make a strong first impression. Bright, vibrant aromatics add lift, while beams of salinity contribute to the wine’s energetic personality. One of the interesting aspects of the 2014 is that there is no Merlot in the blend..Antonio Galloni, December/2016
With the release of the 1974 Insignia in the spring of 1978, Joseph Phelps Vineyards became the first California winery to produce a blend of the traditional Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot grape varieties of Bordeaux under a proprietary label. Considered innovative at the time, the Insignia name was selected to represent the finest available production in each vintage year, and became the first proprietary wine of California to place blending above either varietal or vineyard designation as a determinant of quality. It would not be followed until a decade later by the second such wine, Opus One, and Insignia has remained the benchmark of this category for over a quarter century.
Insignia is an opulent wine of concentration, complexity and structure, with a superb balance of finely tuned acidity and dense, velvety tannins. Cassis, liquorice and spice are abundant on the palate, with notes of eucalyptus and earth. The finish is sweet, elegant and extended.
Grapes from each vineyard are vinified in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, in contact with the skins, over an average period of 21 days. After malolactic fermentation, the blend is assembled within six month of harvest and aged approximately two years in new French oak barrels. The wine is then given a light filtration before bottling.
In the late 60s, Joseph Phelps was running one of the largest construction companies in the U.S. when he won the bid to build Souverain Winery (now Rutherford Hill) located a few miles outside of St. Helena. Enamored with the beautiful Napa Valley and contemplating a career change, in 1973 he bought the 600-acre Connolly cattle ranch in Spring Valley, and began planting vineyards. The winery was completed in 1974 and that same year the first Syrah was made, the first grapes were crushed at the new facility and the first Insignia was produced. It was a period of unparalleled activity, creativity, ingenuity, entrepreneurship and risk-taking and it put Joe Phelps on the map of top Napa Valley wine producers. Nearly four decades later, the flagship wine, Insignia, is recognized as one of the world’s great wines. Twenty nine of 34 vintages have been rated ninety or more points by various wine publications. The 2002 vintage was awarded “Wine of the Year” by Wine Spectator Magazine. Over the years, the goal of becoming 100% estate grown resulted in carefully planned acquisitions of prime vineyards in the Napa Valley. Today, the Phelps estate consists of the Spring Valley Home Ranch outside of St. Helena, Banca Dorada in Rutherford, Las Rocas and Barboza vineyards in Stags Leap, Yountville Vineyard in Oak Knoll, Suscol Vineyard in South Napa and Backus Vineyard in Oakville.