Winemaker Notes The 2018 Insignia opens with beautifully perfumed floral, dark fruit, anise and cigar box aromatics. A wine of depth, elegance and finesse, the palate is fresh and focused with creamy texture and layers of blackberry, mocha and black cherry. The seamless tannin structure and balance culminate in an uplifting, lengthy finish.
The 2018 growing season in Napa Valley was marked by cool, mild weather. The cooler than normal spring delayed budbreak, bloom and veraison compared to the previous five year average. The mild weather patterns in August and September allowed for excellent overall phenological ripening and development of a complex aroma and flavor profile in the finished wines. Outstanding flavor development and color were key indicators of this exceptional vintage.
99 Points - Top 100 Wines of 2021 - James Suckling
Top 100 Wines of 2021 #42 Blackberry and black chocolate with mint, conifer and clove. Sweet tobacco, violets and flowers, too. Some graphite. Cool and complex. Full-bodied with ultra-fine, dusty tannins and a wonderful, extremely long finish. Savory and refined. A classic-styled 2018. This needs time, but is so approachable and gorgeous. One of the best Insignias ever. Alive and changing all the time. Leave this for five or six years, but so wonderful now. (March, 2021)
98 Points - Jeb Dunnuck
The 2018 Insignia checks in as 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec and the rest Cabernet Franc, from a mix of vineyards (mostly in the southern part of the valley) aged two years in new French oak. It has an incredible bouquet of cassis, currants, dark chocolate, lead pencil, and tobacco, and while it's unquestionably Napa, it has a regal, structured, almost Bordeaux-like vibe as well. Full-bodied, perfectly balanced, and layered on the palate, with silky tannins, this quintessential Insignia is up with the finest vintages of this cuvée I've tasted and is in the same realm as the 1997 (the first vintage I bought for my personal cellar), 2001, 2002, 2007, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2016. (Dec. 2021)
97+ Points - Robert Parker Wine Advocate
Deep garnet-purple colored, it comes storming out of the glass with powerful notes of blackcurrant cordial, stewed black plums and boysenberries, plus hints of cedar chest, graphite, menthol and wet slate with a fragrant waft of clove oil. The medium to full-bodied palate already demonstrates remarkable balance at this youthful stage, featuring a firm backbone of fine-grained tannins and bold freshness to support the tightly wound, crunchy black fruits, finishing long and spicy. -LPB (July 2021)
98 Points & Cellar Selection - Wine Enthusiast
This impressive blend combines 87% Cabernet Sauvignon with 8% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc, aging the whole for 24 months in 100% new French oak. Elements of cedar, sage, dried herb and underbrush meet rich red fruit and chalky tannins, with a dusting of cocoa throughout. Enjoy from 2028–2038. Cellar Selection. -VB, Dec. 2021
Wines To Help You Finish 2021 & Ring In 2022 - Worth Magazine
With the year coming to a close, isn’t it time to drink the big ones? Joseph Phelps Insignia is one of those epic cabernets that just seems to define the height of Napa excellence, and the 2018 vintage has added to the wine’s reputation. There is so much at play here that it’s almost hard to describe, but think notes of blackberry, plum, currant, mocha and cherry. (Reviewers detect quite a bit more.) You could age this powerhouse wine for a decade or more to great effect, but…maybe you should just drink it now. It’s been quite a year—you’ve earned it. (Dec. 2021)
96 Points - Decanter
This shows the excellence of the 2018 vintage in Napa made by seasoned winemaker Ashley Hepworth who, this year, celebrates 23 years at Joseph Phelps. The wine opens with a seductive, fruity and generous nose followed by a mass of concentrated blackberry flavours edged with creamy coffee and caramel tones. Instantly mouthwatering then there comes a kick of power with spice and black pepper surrounding the tongues and cheeks... this is a fine example of Cabernet with freshness, poise and power. -GH, Sept. 2021
97 Points - Jane Anson Inside Bordeaux
Joseph Phelps is practically the inventor of the Bordeaux blend in California, and the team has done a wonderful job with the Insignia in 2018. Ashley Hepworth, who began as a trainee 23 years ago and is now head of winemaking, knows exactly how to get both juice, tension and power out of Cabernet Sauvignon, while still maintaining nuance. A ton of interest and spice. Great persistence through the palate, soft black pepper, rosebud and oyster shell on the finish adds a fragrant, saline twist. I am always a fan of this wine, and love that it showcases the history and quality of Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa. (Sept. 2021)
Blended Beauty - Robb Report
Today I’m sipping Insignia, Napa Valley’s original Bordeaux-style blend, created by forward-thinking Joe Phelps in 1974 and, since 2004, blended not only from Bordeaux varieties but also from estate vineyards in St. Helena, Rutherford, Oakville, Stags Leap District, Oak Knoll District and South Napa Valley. The 2018, inky and perfumed, keeps offering more beauty as it unfolds, with earth and anise and floral aromas evolving to blue and black fruit spiced with cedar, cloves, and mint, then flowing across a generous and juicy palate with black raspberry and plum, dark chocolate, super-fine tannins and endless length. (August 2021)
94 Points - Wine Spectator
This is richly layered, with cassis, crushed plum and blackberry puree flavors moving through slowly but steadily, while warm earth, ganache and black licorice notes follow along. Picks up a tarry edge on the finish as the fruit takes an encore. For fans of the muscular, fruit-driven style. Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. Best from 2022 through 2036. -JM (July 2021)
96 Points - Antonio Galloni's Vinous
The 2018 Insignia is racy and exuberant to the core. Soft and plush, with fabulous balance, the 2018 is such a showy wine today. Blackberry jam, leather, mocha, cloves and menthol build effortlessly. The 2018 can be enjoyed with minimal cellaring, but it also clearly has the potential to age. It is a total charmer today. -AG (Jan. 2022)
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Blend and Grape Sources 87% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Petit Verdot, 3% Malbec, 2% Cabernet Franc from 100% estate grown vineyards: 30% Las Rocas Vineyard (Stags Leap District), 18% Yountville Vineyard (Oak Knoll District), 18% Suscol Vineyard (Napa Valley), 14% Home Ranch Vineyard (St. Helena), 13% Banca Dorada Vineyard (Rutherford), and 7% Barboza Vineyard (Stags Leap District).
Appellation Napa Valley
Aging/Cooperage 24 months in 100% new French oak from coopers Taransaud, Dargaud Jaegle, Demptos, Marcel Cadet and Sylvain.