"When I visited Napa Valley a couple of months ago to taste wines in advance of release, I was very impressed with how the 2011Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon tasted. It reminded me of the elegant, classic style Phelps Cabs used to have twenty years ago, before the production of their top wine, Insignia, was expanded. My guess is, like other Napa wineries, they made less of the flagship wine Insignia in the difficult 2011 vintage and put a lot of that juice into the standard Phelps Cab. This wine is drinking beautifully now. It has a silky black-fruit character and very polished tannins, and a gently earthy finish. I like the fact that this is a more classic style, not the high octane – sharp tannin style that so many Napa Cabs seem to have these days."Needless to say, I bought some for me and my boss but tonight is the first I've opened a bottle so here goes nothing!
The wine has such a rich color, dark crimson in the center leading to a bright ruby along the edges, classic of a Napa Cabernet. The nose is at first somewhat fruity and spicy, with notes of black cherry and anise, but then it transitions to some earthy notes of leather, iron and moss. The taste is a quick blast of dark fruit, plum, blackberry and cassis, which then transitions to some lovely warm spice notes of white pepper, dried herbs and Asian spice. The finish was quite nice, with velvety smooth tannins supporting a long, smooth, dry finish that seems to last a minute or more. The wine is certainly drinking very well now, and I agree with Dave, this is much more of a classically styled Cabernet.
Overall, I would rate this wine a solid 8.5, as it's just a beautiful Cabernet, but it's definitely not for your everyday table wine as I bought this one on sale for $65 a bottle. Tonight I am enjoying it with a thick Hereford ribeye grilled rare and served with some grilled zucchini (thanks Emily!) and a giant Amish baked potato (you should see these things, there were 4 potatoes in a 5-pound bag!). Salut!