The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) is absolutely gorgeous. Succulent red cherry, red plum, mocha, spice and leather are front and center. Soft contours and silky plush tannins give the 2019 its tremendous immediacy and overall appeal. The 2019 is a superb wine in its peer group.
Drink 2024 - 2034
Antonio Galloni, vinous.com (Jan 2022)
Drink 2022 to 2038
Jane Anson, Inside Bordeaux (August 2022)
The 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Merlot, 1% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec. It is due to age in oak for 18 months, in 48% new (58% French, 42% American) and 52% two-year-old French and American oak barrels. Deep garnet-purple in color, it rolls effortlessly out of the glass with beautifully pure notes of fresh black plums, black cherries and crushed blackcurrants plus hints of cinnamon stick, tobacco leaf and charcoal. Medium to full-bodied, the palate hits the ground running with expressive black fruits and soft, supple tannins, lifted by just enough freshness and finishing pleasantly savory. 40,000 are due to be made. (Tasted as a barrel sample.)
Lisa Perrotti-Brown, Wine Advocate (Mar 2021)
Blackberry and light dried fruit with oyster-shell undertones. It’s full-bodied with round, lightly chewy tannins that nicely accentuate the fruit character. Walnuts and wet earth. Delicious now, but better in two or three years.
James Suckling, jamessuckling.com (Jul 2022)
Starting with the 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, which is a no-brainer cuvée in most vintages, it reveals a dense purple hue to go with classic Napa Cabernet notes of ripe blackcurrants, scorched earth, lead pencil, chalky minerality, and a touch of spice box. Rich, medium to full-bodied, and beautifully balanced, with silky tannins, it's a classic, concentrated, yet elegant style of Cabernet Sauvignon that will deliver the goods for two decades if properly stored. It way over-delivers. The blend is 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Cabernet Franc, 2% Merlot, and the rest Petit Verdot and Malbec, aged 18 months in just under 50% new French and American oak. 40,000 cases.
Drink 2021 - 2041
Jeb Dunnuck, jebdunnuck.com (Dec 2021)
About this WINE
Joseph Phelps, a building contractor from Colorado, first invested in vineyards in the Napa Valley in 1972. In 1974 Phelps and his winemaker Walter Schugg produced their first vintage of Insignia, which at the time was one of the first Bordeaux style blends in California. Its Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot grapes are sourced primarily from Rutherford & Stags Leap (notably for `Insignia'); the Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from Los Carneros & Napa (for the better quality fruit).
Insignia, which is aged in oak barrels (25% American) for 22 months has been on hot streak since 1990 and current winemaker Craig Williams is producing richer and riper wines than before. The winery produces a wide range of wines apart from Insignia and of particular interest are its Rhône style wines made from Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre, and Viognier.
Cabernet Sauvignon Blend
Cabernet Sauvignon lends itself particularly well in blends with Merlot. This is actually the archetypal Bordeaux blend, though in different proportions in the sub-regions and sometimes topped up with Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot.
In the Médoc and Graves the percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend can range from 95% (Mouton-Rothschild) to as low as 40%. It is particularly suited to the dry, warm, free- draining, gravel-rich soils and is responsible for the redolent cassis characteristics as well as the depth of colour, tannic structure and pronounced acidity of Médoc wines. However 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines can be slightly hollow-tasting in the middle palate and Merlot with its generous, fleshy fruit flavours acts as a perfect foil by filling in this cavity.
In St-Emilion and Pomerol, the blends are Merlot dominated as Cabernet Sauvignon can struggle to ripen there - when it is included, it adds structure and body to the wine. Sassicaia is the most famous Bordeaux blend in Italy and has spawned many imitations, whereby the blend is now firmly established in the New World and particularly in California and Australia.