Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Four Vs.

For an anniversary tipple, Vinomaker went down to our cellar and selected a mystery wine to pair with our evening repast and, as an aside, give me the opportunity to play a quick guessing-game of The Four Vs; varietal, vintage, valley and value.  I did fairly well.
I guessed the wine was a Cabernet sauvignon blend, a 2000 vintage, from the Napa Valley and selling for about $60.  When unveiled, the wine turned out to be a 1997 Joseph Phelps Insignia. The Insignia was a blend of 83% Cabernet sauvignon, 14% Merlot and 3% Petit verdot.  Despite the high percentage of Cabernet, Phelps choose to label this wine a red table wine.  
So how was the wine?  A deep, deep garnet colour with a brick-red meniscus, the Insignia was very pleasing to the eye.  Up front, a huge blackcurrant aroma wafted out of the glass (very Ribena-like) which mellowed into something much more typically Cab-like.  Beautifully integrated oak with tons of vanilla and a slight hint of cocoa (a high pH perhaps), and a relatively low alcohol of 13.8%.  Well structured tannins hinted that this wine could have aged for many more years to come - if it had survived the disintegrating cork, that is.  As to the value of this wine I haven't the fogiest: the current vintage of Insignia, the 2008, sells for $200.    
Being a bit of a Doubting Thomas when it comes to all things Napa-cultish I was shocked, shocked I tell you, at how fine this wine was. The 1997 vintage was considered to be one of the finest ever in the Napa Valley, but up to this point I personally haven't had great experiences with the way this vintage is aging.  This bottle was a thank you gift from a friend, who I'm pretty sure would have bought it by the case, so I'll have to email him and see if he has opened a bottle lately and compare tasting notes.  The 1997 Insignia was a truly wonderful wine.


NHwineman said...

V-girl, lovely review; Ribena, how esoteric, at least in New England!
This spring I found the 2007 Insignia for $144.99, and I'm waiting for a special occasion to drink it.

What gives the meniscus a different hue than the body of the wine, is it the density?

Thud said...

Ah ribena...the king of beverages!

Vinogirl said...

NHW: Ribena can be found on the west coast too, thank goodness.
The wine was very opaque, but not in a cloudy way. And yes, the capillary action of the wine being pulled up the glass allowed more light through a thinner layer of wine showing more of the brick colour.
Enjoy your 2007!

Thud: All this talk of Ribena makes me want to go out and buy some now.