Monday, July 31, 2017

Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Winery Tasting

Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Winery Tasting

A highlight of our Pour Boys  2017 Sonoma/Napa Wine Experience was a private tasting at the spectacular Joseph Phelps Vineyards and Winery hospitality center. We tasted a curated selection of current release Napa Valley and Sonoma Coast wines, including Insignia and Phelp's single-vineyard Pinot Noir. 

The Phelps winery, tasting facility sits overlooking Phelp's vineyards nestled in its own Spring Valley above St Helena on the western facing foothills of the Vaca range that form the eastern face of Napa Valley. 

The new magnificent tasting facility recently underwent a sixteen-month expansion renovation of the original winery building repurposed into a reception area, a Great Hall, six private tasting areas, a library of older vintages, a barrel room and a state-of-the-art kitchen. The facility features the signature exterior redwood design and massive trellis entryway from a relocated bridge, and opens onto a terrace with numerous seating spaces for private tastings with valley and vineyard views. 


Joseph Phelps is second and third generation family-owned and operated with vineyards and wineries in Napa Valley and on the western Sonoma Coast. The late Joseph Phelps, a successful construction executive and entrepreneur started the business in 1973 when he purchased a 670-acre former cattle ranch in Napa Valley. 

Today, the business is overseen by Joe’s son, Bill Phelps, who joined the business in 1998 after a successful career in law.  The winery’s Board also includes Joe’s daughters, Leslie, Laurie and Lynn. In 2016, third generation Elizabeth Neuman and Will Phelps, joined to run Business Development and Marketing, as part of the winery’s executive management team, and Allie Phelps joined the winery’s hospitality team where she is working in the culinary program.

All Joseph Phelps wines are 100% estate-grown, sourced from grapes grown on 390 acres of vines in Napa Valley on eight estate vineyards in St. Helena, Rutherford, Oakville, the Stags Leap District, the Oak Knoll District, South Napa and Carneros, and from 100 acres over two vineyards on the western Sonoma Coast. 

Our Phelps wine tasting was held in the tasting room shown left. Our tasting flight consisted of the following wines:

Joseph Phelps Sauvignon Blanc 2016 St Helena 

Joseph Phelps Freestone Chardonnay Pastorale Vineyard Sonoma Coast 2014

Joseph Phelps Pastorale Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2013

Joseph Phelps Quarter Moon Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2014

Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Insignia 2011, 2013, 2015


Tasting notes:

Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2014
 
Winemaker's Notes; The  2014  Cabernet  Sauvignon  highlights  blackberry,  dried  blueberry  and  violet  with  notes  of   graphite  and  cloves  followed by opulent layers of  black currant jam, roasted coffee, tobacco, dried fig and vanilla bean. A full-bodied, deeply concentrated wine with supple tannins and a lengthy finish.


This is a Bordeaux varietal blend of 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot, and 2% each Malbec and Cabernet Franc. 

Dark garnet colored, medium-full bodied, blackberry and black currant fruits with hints of anise, spice and cedar with smooth lingering tannins on the finish. 

RM 91 points. WA 92 AG 91

Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Insignia 2011

Insignia is Phelp's flagship wine and was California’s first proprietary red Bordeaux-style blend. There have now been over forty vintages of Insignia which is one of the most iconic wines in Napa Valley. The 2002 vintage was awarded “Wine of the Year” by Wine Spectator magazine in 2005, and in November 2013, Robert M. Parker, Jr. of The Wine Advocate awarded Insignia three perfect 100-point scores for the 1991, 1997 and 2002 vintages, calling it “one of the world’s finest Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated blends." 

This is a Bordeaux varietal blend of 82% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, 11% Petit Verdot, 4% Malbec and 1% Cabernet Franc.  

100% estate-grown from Napa Valley  vineyards:
• Stags Leap District, 20% Barboza Vineyard and 17% Las Rocas Vineyard
• St. Helena, 21% Home Ranch Vineyard
• Oak Knoll District, 20% Yountville Vineyard
• Napa Valley, 13% Suscol Vineyard
• Rutherford, 9% Banca Dorada Vineyard


WA 93 AG 93


The ultimate test of a winemaker is to producer quality wines in challenging lackluster years such as 2011 which was cool and wet with rains at the wrong times such as late in the growing season. Never-the-less, Phelps produced a respectable, high quality Insignia. 

Winemaker notes: The 2011 Insignia is layered with aromatics of  dark fruit, cardamom, tobacco, Herbs de Provence and graphite on the nose. Fresh and lively this elegant wine boasts bright red cherry, blackberry and espresso throughout the palate with supple tannins.

Dark garnet colored, full bodied, smooth and nicely balanced blackberry and black currant fruits with notes of tobacco leaf, hints of cedar and anise with moderate tannins on the lingering finish. 

RM 92 points. 

Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Insignia 2013


Phelps Insignia barrel tastings are accommodated from these barrels which hold $225,000 worth of wine!

Winemaker's notes: Deeply pigmented, the 2013 Insignia opens with heady blackberry and plum aromatics laced with baking spices, cardamom and espresso. Focused and fresh, this exceptionally concentrated wine showcases elegant tannin structure and a silky mouthfeel layered with dark fruit, sweet vanilla bean, cracked black pepper and bittersweet chocolate.

Blend: 88% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot, 3% Malbec and 1% Cabernet Franc 

100% estate-grown Napa Valley  vineyards: Stags  Leap  District  (28%  Las  Rocas  Vineyard  and  11%  Barboza  Vineyard),  Napa  Valley  (22%  Suscol Vineyard),  Rutherford  (16%  Banca  Dorada  Vineyard),  Oak  Knoll  District  (12%  Yountville  Vineyard)  and  St.  Helena  (11%  Home  Ranch Vineyard).

WA 98 WE 98 

Dark inky purple colored, full bodied, intense, concentrated, smooth, polished, a symphony of well integrated layers of black raspberry, blueberry and blackberry fruits, accent tones of graphite, espresso, dark mocha, hints of vanilla and pepper with nice acidity and smooth silkly tannins.  

RM 96 points.

Joseph Phelps Napa Valley Insignia 2015


Our host Michael Cawelti
Phelp's Wine Educator
This is a Bordeaux varietal blend of 90% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Petit Verdot, 1% Malbec and 2% Cabernet Franc.  

The 2015 vintage promises to be another blockbuster following the string of great 2012, 2013, and 2014. The 2015 production yields were tiny resulting in rich concentrated fruits. 

Tasted from a barrel drawn bottle sample, this was dark inky garnet colored, full bodied, rich concentrated, nicely polished and balanced, sinewy black berry and black raspberry fruits, notes of mocha, and vanilla, with hints of graphite, minty cedar, turning to smooth silky tannins on a long finish. 

RM 95 points. 

Phelps Vineyards and Winery Estate - 








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