Joseph Phelps Insignia prices spike, then decline

October 22, 2012

Galloni, WA and IWC rated Joseph Phelps Insignia 2009 93-96 points. Parker said, ”One of the finest 2009s I tasted.” While that may be true, the price tag is $149-160/bottle. The 1993 is around, rated a solid 93 points and perfect now. You can find it for less than $160. Typically, Insignia spikes, then declines in price over time. These charts will prove it: You can click on any vintage on the left-hand column for a chart.

Familiars are aware I don’t think there is value over $75 for Cali Cabs unless you are a collector. I’m all for buying any highly rated wine at bargain prices and keeping enough dry powder to do so. So this week, I’m touting DeLille Estate Doyenne Roussanne 2009, 93 points and only $120 per case. Made from 100 percent Ciel du Cheval fruit, it’s one of the best Washington state whites I’ve tasted recently. The wine is bright yellow, opens to flowers, honeysuckle, lime, ginger and a hint of lees. On the palate, apricot with ginger accent rides a smooth dense, frame with proper acid to carry all through a very long, clean finish. The choice is clear. Buy 16 bottles of a perfect Roussanne or one bottle of a big-name Cali Cab that is known to decline in value from its highs, in most cases.

If you insist on reds, have your friendly local wine person look for a six-pack of Chateau Peyreau Grand Cru St. Emilion 2008 from Stephan von Neipperg. You may remember Stephan gave us the beautiful 100-point La Mondotte 2009 . The majors have not reviewed the Peyreau.

This captain says 91 points if you buy it under $150 for six. Deep ruby purple, good legs, opens to cherry-berry, smoked meat, cedar and coffee. On the palate, a commingling of chocolate, cherry and white pepper riding a medium frame of tannins, minerals and moderate alcohol. It finishes cleanly with hints of pepper and red fruit. No hurry to buy this wine; it will hold price and continue to improve. Just be sure you get it from a reputable broker. Von Neipperg is a guy to watch. He knows the business of the wine business. In addition to Chateaux Peyreau and La Mondotte, he also owns Clos De l’Oratoire, LaGaffeliere, D’Aguilhe and Canon. Each historically produces wine rated in the 90s.

Dutton-Goldfield Dutton Ranch Russian River Chard is not worth $50, and the Kistler Hill at $130 is even less so. Don’t get me wrong; both are well-made, fine Chardonnays. Buy some Robert Young Estate Winery Chardonnay 2007. Only what you can consume within the year.

Robert Young was the iconic wine guy for Alexander Valley Chardonnay. The 2007 is 93-94 points and a classically made beauty. You can find some priced under $40. It is a citrus-nosed, buttery butterscotch lovely that I love and sadly can no longer find very often. Those who enjoy the rich style of Cali Chards will enjoy sitting in front of the fireplace or the stove, depending on affluence or inclination, drinking this gem. Another in a similar configuration would be Eric Kent Cellars Russian River Chard 2008. You should be able to buy under $40.

This question from a new reader named Samantha has been answered here awhile ago. I think the answer bears repeating.

What is most important when choosing wine? My short answer is that it should taste great to you and make you feel comfortable when you consume it. Pedigree, point of origin, others’ opinions (except mine, of course) mean very little. In the end, it is your taste that matters. If you are a neophyte, read the reviews carefully and then select your wine. If it works for you, look for others of the type or trust the reviewer and try other recommendations. Don’t be reluctant to ask questions. We all started from the same basis.

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