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2014 Joseph Phelps - Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

UNITED STATES / CALIFORNIA / NAPA
  • 92 WA
  • Variety
    Cabernet Sauvignon
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SKU: 56203-2014
  • Wine Advocate | Rating: 92

    Phelps is now producing three cuvees of Cabernet Sauvignon - their Napa Valley, their flagship proprietary red Bordeaux blend called Insignia (which they debuted in 1974), and their Oakville steep hillside vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon called Backus. The basic Cabernet Sauvignon, the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa is 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot and the rest Petit Verdot, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. It saw 18 months in a combination of both French and American casks. This is their biggest cuvee (27,000 cases) and it is a beauty. The 2014 is supple, with silky tannins, dark plum, blackcurrant and licorice-infused fruit with a touch of spice, a lushness on the attack and mid-palate, and a silky finish. This wine was meant for early drinking, but there is no doubt it has the concentration and overall balance to age nicely for 15-20 years.
    Author: Robert Parker
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  • Since its founding in 1972, Joseph Phelps Vineyards has been on the cutting edge of many California wine developments. From the Bordeaux-blend Insignia, first made in 1974 and Wine Spectator's wine of the year for the 2002 vintage; to the resurrection of California Syrah, also first produced in 1974, the winery has earned critical acclaim for its many estate-grown wines.

    California is the heartland of wine production in the US, and the state that brought prestige to American wine thanks to the pioneers who built early wineries like Staglin, Beringer, Ridge, Mayacamas and Chateau Montelena in the 1800s. Its large geographic area ensures a great diversity in growing sites, varieties grown, and quality levels. Generalizations about the state's wines have numerous exceptions; however, a few key facts generally hold true—ample sunshine, dry weather during the growing season, and moderate winters prevail. Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon continue to dominate the state's production—albeit in continually smaller percentages, as growers continue to diversify. More than 100 different varieties can be found throughout the state.

    Cabernet Sauvignon is a thick-skinned variety that is high in color, flavor, tannin, and body, displaying aromas of black currant, blackberry, violet, bell pepper, and black cherry. It is late-ripening and therefore struggles to grow in cool climates. Quality can vary tremendously depending on terroir, vineyard management, and winemaking style, with the highest quality wines coming from the Haut-Médoc and Graves in Bordeaux, and Napa and Sonoma in California.

    The powerful flavors, tannin, and body of Cabernet Sauvignon make it well suited to ageing and allow it to stand up to a large proportion of new oak without overpowering the wine. 225-litre barriques are the most popular size barrel and French oak is commonly used by the best producers to add structural complexity and flavors of chocolate, vanilla, and clove to the nose and palate. The best wines, many of which are below, can age further in the bottle for decades.

    Old-World Cabernet Sauvignon is often blended with Merlot, which ripens earlier than Cabernet and adds plum, softer tannin, and lighter body to this Bordeaux blend. These wines typically have earth-driven aromas such as wet leaves and truffle along with bell peppers and leather. First-Growth producers such as Château Lafite-Rothschild, Château Latour, and Château Margaux consistently produce some of the highest-quality Cabernet Sauvignon-based blends.

    New-World Cabernet Sauvignon is seen both as a blend and single varietal. Warmer climates and long sunlight hours result in an extended growing season, bearing grapes with richer fruit, bigger tannin, higher alcohol, and lower acidity than their Old-World counterparts. Some of the best expressions of these full-bodied wines come from producers like Screaming Eagle, Hundred Acre, Schrader and Scarecrow.

    All Cabernet Sauvignon pairs phenomenally well with meat-forward dishes such as rib-eye steak, short ribs, lamb shank, or a cheeseburger. Vegetable-forward dishes featuring mushrooms are also a great choice for this variety. 

    Collector Data For This Wine

    • 216 bottles owned
    • 52 collectors