TN: Ten years and counting

Dinner with friends – we tasted two cabernets:

I had meat loaf with mashed potatoes and the wines both worked but . . .

1999 Phelps, Insignia:
This is a solid wine; integrated, smooth and properly balanced – but there is no “there” there – void of character or place and despite a pleasant enough accompaniment with the food, it added nothing to the mix.

1999 Shafer, Hillside Select:
Paradigm shift – this is loaded with character, brighter and more nervous in the mouth, carries the mind and senses to places they didn’t go in its absence and finishes long and vivid. ‘Night and day from the previous bottle.

Best, Jim

Always a pleasure to read your notes. Love your take on the '99 HSS.
We had one back in Dec (thanks Peter), and I agree with your assessment.

Completely agree with this assessment. I felt the same when I tried it a couple of years ago. The bottle was left unfinished.


Where the heck is Insignia sourced from? Got to be a lot of places. They make like 20,000 cases of this stuff in a hearty year right?

No idea; maybe some Phelps fans can enlighten us.
But I know where the HSS comes from and I must say, its one of the few CA cabs. that I would pay the price for.
Best, Jim


Even at $180 plus you would pay the price? Seems so…well…unlike you.

Okay, maybe I spoke too quickly. (But I’ll be happy to help drink yours.)
What I really meant was, all those high priced CA cabs. and HSS seems to me to be the only one, year in and year out, that comes close to worth it.
Best, Jim

Received a couple of e-mails from Phelps asking me to become preferred member to secure an allocation of the well regarded 2007 vintage for Backus and Insignia. I have bought the 1997, 2003, and 2005 Insignia vintages in the past but I think that I will pass on the invitation. Somehow, I doubt that they will be able to sell all their 2007 production and they will be available in the market.

I don’t have a lot of recent experience with Phelps cabs. but I have had good luck in the past aging their regular bottling. Of course, back then it was in the $20’s, so who knows which way the wind blows now.
Best, Jim

More like it Jim. I thought the Earth had gone off its axis for a bit there. And as you know Jim my CA cabernet stash is so big I had to get a storage locker for it. rolleyes

I am pretty sure this is accurate:

The Cabernet comes from Banca Dorada Vineyard in the Rutherford Bench and Las Rocas Vineyard in the Stag’s Leap District.
The Merlot comes from Las Rocas.
Cabernet Franc is also from Banca Dorada.
Other stuff might come from Manley Lane.

Oh and I think that is as of '91 or '92 when they went away from some of there other contracts and started using some estate stuff, could be wrong though.