Joseph Phelps Vineyards was founded in 1973 when Joseph Phelps purchased the former 600-acre Connolly cattle ranch near St. Helena in the Napa Valley. Several years prior Joseph Phelps was running one of the largest construction companies in the U.S. when he won the bid to build the Souverain Winery helping to instill his passion for wine. The Joseph Phelps Winery was completed in 1974 and that same year the first Syrah was made according to our Joseph Phelps wine reviews. Phelps now has over 375 acres under vine on eight estate vineyards in St. Helena, the Stags Leap District, Oakville, Rutherford, Oak Knoll District, Carneros and South Napa Valley. While there are several Joseph Phelps wines produced, they are best known for the flagship “Insignia” Napa Valley blend of red Bordeaux varietals which is consistently found atop our Joseph Phelps wine ratings. In 2003 Joseph Phelps Winery was honored as the American Winery of the Year at the Wine Enthusiast Wine Star Awards. For more information check out our Joseph Phelps Wine Guide below.
Tasted alongside a bevy of Oakville Cabs, this beauty was the star of the show. It’s a huge, masculine wine, authoritative and ageable. Pours dark and drinks tannic and oaky, with a massive core of cassis, cherry and chocolate fruit encased in perfect tannins. What grace and power, what balance. Drink now through 2016, at least.
Tasted in October, 2007, the wine was mute, offering little aromatically except for teasing notes of blackberries and oak. That shyness extended to the taste, where strong, hard tannins provide an almost impenetrable coat of armor to what’s inside. But right down the middle of the palate is a deep, intensely powerful stream of perfectly ripened cassis that’s all…
Price be damned, this is an authentically gorgeous, important Cabernet Sauvignon. It calls to mind the amazing 2001, with its huge, perfect tannins and acids and artistic appliqué of new oak. But the star of the show surely is the fruit. Mounds of ripe blackberries and cherries pile up, veering into currants and cassis and something wild and decadently animal, like…
Even at this price, most of the 400-case production is already snapped up. Nonetheless, this is great Cabernet. Incredibly plush, ultrafeminine, with all the bells and whistles of a hallmark wine. Flavors lean toward cherry, blackberry, plum, strawberry, toast, vanilla, anise, herbs, spice and chocolate. It’s all couched in velvety, smooth tannins and a finish that…
A triumph. Aged nearly two years in all-new French oak, this massive wine stuns with its superb balance. Manages the elusive challenge of reining in hugely ripe black currant, cherry and oak flavors and sweet tannins while keeping the palate impression soft and alluring, almost feminine. Just gorgeous right out of the bottle, but should develop effortlessly through…
Undoubtedly the greatest Chardonnay the winery has ever produced, this is as rich as any Chardonnay on the market. Notes of tropical fruit, green apple and crème brûlée mesh with vibrant minerality that’s steely, chalky and tangy. Although it tastes of honey, the finish is completely dry. This might even develop earthy, nutty complexities as it ages.
One of the first, if not the first, of the proprietarily named Napa Bordeaux blends, Phelps Insignia has been one of California’s greatest Cabs for decades. This is their 30th anniversary bottling, and it’s worthy of the tradition. Ultrarich and smooth, with a mouthfeel that’s pure velvet, it’s fairly thick in tannins now, suggesting cellaring. But it’s huge in…
This wine continues a long-standing tradition, showing a mastery of the art of blending. It’s made using grapes that are sourced from at least six vineyards scattered from Yountville to St. Helena. Right out of the bottle, it’s a soft, smoothly tannic wine that’s rich in blackberry jam, black currant, blueberry, raspberry, dark chocolate and spice flavors. The wine…