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.