I will now proceed to detail one of the most wonderful wine experiences I have had in a long time. And yes, it involves a California wine. Like most great wines, the experience surrounding it also colors the memory.
My dad recently retired and one of the gifts he got was a bottle of 1997 Joseph Phelps Insignia. Legendary wine and vintage.
I visited my parents new place in Reno and suffered through mediocre meals and wines. [OK, I just drank beer. Although I did have a Zenato Lugana, a Steele Cab Franc (surprising good and varietally correct), and an Altesino Brunello grapa at an American-Italian place.]
Finally, I put my foot down and said, “We are getting steaks and potatoes and drinking this Insignia.” (My parents were nice enough to have already suggested we drink the Insignia while I was there.) I purchased some Riedel glasses from Target and I must say the exclusive line of stemware there is an incredible deal. Then I broke the cork while opening the wine. Thankfully, there was a tea strainer and a vase there that I could decant it in.
The wine was LOVELY. The oak had totally integrated, just pure, smooth fruit and great acidity. It was just starting to show secondary characteristics. This wine is years away from its peak.
I also can’t remember a time when I savored a wine so much. By that I mean I did not pour it down my throat.
Joseph Phelps Insignia is an American classic; this is a wine made with care and skill and for the cellar.