The 1997 vintage presented one of the most challenging growing seasons in recent memory, yet produced some of the best red wines California has seen in decades. Early on, barrel tastings of the 1997 Insignia indicated color and flavor concentrations beyond the levels achieved in 1994 and 1995, and we consider those two years among the best in the last 25!
After torrential rainfall in December and January, warm, dry weather through July initiated early budbreak, excellent fruit set, and veraison which was two to three weeks earlier than normal. Sugar concentrations were near desired levels by the end of July, and reports of a large crop surfaced as some wineries began to harvest in early August. (This was not a scenario that indicated high quality.)
However, the weather made a dramatic change on August 8 as a major cooling trend brought fog, mild temperatures and half an inch of rain on the 19th. Finally, with the return of warmer weather in the third week of September, the crop achieved near-perfect ripeness levels and harvest began in earnest.
At this stage in the wine’s development, it continues to exhibit amazing color and concentration, as if it were half its age. With complex aromas of black cherry, plum, chocolate, currant and toasty oak, the wine displays layers of flavor and richness that disguise its power and longevity. Beautifully crafted and balanced, the 1997 Insignia reflects a new level of quality from both the vineyards and the growing regions.
If we were to draw up a wish list of weather patterns for the ideal vintage, they would not resemble the above! Yet our 1997 Napa Valley Cabernet meets or exceeds every quality standard this same wish list would include. With its opaque color, concentrated, jammy aromas of black cherry, herbs and mocha, the wine reveals similar, satisfying flavors and a long, intricate finish.