Which Phelps Insignia will age better: 1999 or 2001?

I’ve been seeing a lot more positive TNs on well-aged Cali Cabs and blends. I don’t own any, and would like to age a few that I’ve got and hope for a similar experience. Call it an experiment, but it would be fun to crack a 30+ year-old bottle of a legendary CA wine. If it’s dead, so be it, and I know I’m running that risk here. I also realize that there are likely some candidates coming out of CA that will likely fare better with age than Phelps Insignias. However, of what few CA Cabs and blends I own, I’d be that these would be the best candidates to go for awhile. I have only one of each, FWIW, so I’d like to drink one now/soon and age the other for quite some time. So, my question: which vintage of Phelps Insignia would you lay down with the highest likelihood of being good way down the road: the 1999 or the 2001? Thanks in advance, All.

Drink the '99 now and save the '01 since the '01 has the stuffing to age quite a few more years. Most Cabs / Cab blends from 1999 that I’ve had are peaking, sliding down the slope, or past prime. Most 2001 bottles are just coming into their window and probably still could use a couple or three years on the rack.

Call the Winery.

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve had the 2001 but it should have the structure and stuffing to last for many years. I’m holding onto my 2 remaining bottles.

The 2001 is quite special.

Old post but not forgotten.

I drink a lot of Insignia. I would say the 2001. I’ll chime on again tomorrow as I’m taking a 99 to an offline tonight. My standing impression is that 99 was a good wine as almost all Insignias are, but it is not as structures as some both the other pre-2002 versions.

Older Insignia aged fabulously. But, I don’t think more modern vintages will. Certainly sone Insignias I had from the mid 1990s seem to be lasting more than developing. You won’t get a wine that goes over the hill, but you also won’t learn what a mature California cab will taste like. IMHO, sell the Insignia and buy some aged Monte Bello or Montelena. These will not be popular views with the many Insignia lovers on this board, but it is my view, backed by the fact that I sold my 1994, 1996 and 1997 about a year ago. Does not make me right, but I am telling you my view.



Another vote for 2001.

Great wine, and I’m hanging on to my last bottle for a while.

Based solely on vintage (haven’t had either wine), 2001.

Have a 3 liter of 99, any thoughts on when to drink it?


Party at Trent’s house!

I had a 750 of the 99 a few months ago. I felt it was starting to fade.

I certainly respect the opinion and, knowing a bit of your drinking preferences, it’s understandable.
That said, this might be one of those cases where each person’s preferences qualify the applicability of their opinion. Though indeed, all opinions and data points are worth hearing. Assuming that the o.p. enjoys Insignia released within the past 20 years, following your path might do him wrong. I think the 94, 96, and 97 Insignias aged very well. I haven’t had the 94 in a few years but have had the 96 and 97 within 18 months. The 96 was excellent and the 97 was fantastic. I have actually been a bit disappoint in some other 97s at the 15+ year-mark, but not the Insignia. I happen to also like aged Montebello and Montelena. If the question would be which wine would be better at the 25+ year mark, I might agree that Montebello, Montelena (or Dunn) would be better choices. Personally, liking the profile of Insignia, I think excellent vintages do fine and develop some complexity. They are always going to be more primary than something like Montebello or Bordeaux but for a Cal Cab lover make for excellent drinking.

So the 99 showed well the other night, but not great. It was in some pretty tough company of mostly French wine. Interestingly, the 07 Clos de Papes, blew it out of the water in the battle of ripeness. I’ve come to the conclusion that 99 just wasn’t a vintage I prefer in many of my favorite cabs. The wine wasn’t over the hill at all and still has plenty of fruit and depth. We didn’t decant it, and maybe we should have. It just wasn’t better than an average vintage Insignia. In this wine, I would agree that perhaps there isn’t enough acid to make it strong at the 20+ year mark. The 2001 has the fruit and the backbone. I think IT is a wine that will be excellent at age 20 and maybe 25.

2001 will age better IMO

I concur with the 01 assessment. An interesting comparison is 01 & 02. Both great vintages but the 02 is more accessible now.

We drank a 99 Beringer Private Reserve on Saturday night. While a very nice bottle, I would say that it is either at its peak or slightly declining from. The wine was great on the nose with cedar, cassis and leather but certainly did not evolve in the course of the evening.

This one of the 99s that I referred to. I’ve been disappointed with 99 Dominus as well. The 99 Beringer PR is just not a good vintage for them, and they knew it from the release. I have had a bunch and while it is drinking ok, it has not aged well and there is no reason to keep them. 99 is odd in that the growing season, unless I’m mistaken, had pretty good weather. It definitely wasn’t a super ripe vintage but it wasn’t cold. Upon release the wines were touted as having the tannin and acid to age well.