1994 Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Cabernet - 750ml

1994 Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Cabernet - 750ml

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1994 Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Cabernet

In 1974 Joe Phelps had the idea to make a separate cuvee each year, one that would represent the finest wine he could make from each vintage. He didn’t necessarily think it would always be a Cabernet Sauvignon. It might be a white wine in some years, a Chardonnay or a Riesling, or it might be a Syrah or Merlot. His only thought was to make one wine that represented the best of what Joseph Phelps Vineyards could produce each year. He decided to name the wine Insignia, a proprietary name that would give him the flexibility to make the wine out of any varietal he chose.

As it happened, 1974 was a great year for Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley and the 1974 Insignia was 94% Cabernet from the Stags Leap District. The following year Merlot dominated the blend, and in 1976, it returned to Cabernet, this time from the Eisele Vineyard. It was becoming increasingly clear that red Bordeaux varieties – particularly Cabernet Sauvignon - were ideally suited to Napa Valley and would consistently yield the best wines of the vintage. From 1977 on, Cabernet Sauvignon was never less than 50% of the Insignia blend and gradually became the dominant varietal. Joe’s vision evolved: Insignia would always be a proprietary red Bordeaux-style blend.


Product Details

Varietal Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage 1994
Rating
Bottle Size 750 ml
Bottle Quantity 1
Country USA
Region California
Location North Coast
Producer Phelps Joseph
Color Red
Wine Type Table

Robert Parker

Rating 1994 Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Cabernet The 1994 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa (a blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Merlot) appears to be one of the finest regular Cabernet Sauvignon cuvees Phelps has produced since the terrific 1975. It will be interesting to see if the 1994 outperforms Phelps' beautiful 1993 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa. For now, I give a one-point edge to the 1993, but perhaps that is only because the wine has had an additional year in bottle. The 1994 is a deep ruby/purple-colored wine with a sweet, ripe, black fruit, vanillin, and underbrush-scented nose, medium to full body, a layered texture, adequate acidity, and sweet tannin in the finish. The wine is mouthfilling, pure, and impressive. Regardless of the value and quality of the Vin de Mistral wines, it is unlikely Joseph Phelps will ever shake its reputation as being first and foremost a high quality producer of Cabernet Sauvignon. Some of the greatest California red wines were made at this winery during the seventies, wines that remain reference points today. Consider for example, the 1974 Insignia, 1975 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa, 1975 Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele, 1976 Insignia, 1977 Insignia, and 1978 Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele - all splendid California red wines that have aged effortlessly as well as gracefully. The vintages of the nineties offer the potential for wines that will equal if not eclipse some of those legends. Joseph Phelps' winemaker, Craig Williams, was enthusiastic about the potential quality of the 1996 vintage, and at the same time, lamented the fact that yields were down once again, with production for the Cabernet Sauvignon off 10%-25% from the relatively modest yields of 1995. As I have indicated in past issues, this winery has been on top of its game since the 1991 vintage, turning out a bevy of top-notch Cabernets, along with their increasingly popular Vin de Mistral wines. Current and upcoming releases continue to reflect a commitment to high quality and innovative thinking. RP

Wine Spectator

Wine Spectator

Burghound

Burghound

Winery Details

Varietal Cabernet Sauvignon
Vintage 1994
Rating
Bottle Size 750 ml
Bottle Quantity 1
Country USA
Region California
Location North Coast
Producer Phelps Joseph
Color Red
Production
cases

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