Comparison Tasting: Joseph Phelps Insignia 2010 and Opus One 2010

Recommendation: Both very expensive, but still an outstanding buy.

Winery/Producer: (Insignia) Grown, Produced & bottled at Joseph Phelps Vineyards; St. Helena, California; (Opus One) Produced & bottled by Robert Mondavi & Baron Philippe De Rothschild; Oakville, California.

Grape Variety: (Insignia) Blend: 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Pettit Verdot, 4% Merlot and 2% Melbec; (Opus one) Blend: 84% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5.5% Cabernet Franc, 5.5% Merlot, 4% Petit Verdot and 1% Malbec.

Geographic Region, Appellation: (Insignia) Napa Valley, California; (Opus One) Oakville, California.

Vintage: Both 2010

Price: (Insignia) $179.95; (Opus One) $214.95

Purchased From: Woodland Hills Wine Company; Woodland Hills, California

Paired With: Steak, baked potato, green salad and broccoli-cauliflower-carrot mix with garlic bread


    He said: (Insignia) Dark purple/garnet color. Wonderful intense ripe dark fruit and wood aromas. Very complementary, concentrated dark fruit taste that’s super smooth and velvety, and carries right through the long vibrant finish. The depth and layers of taste are just superb. Insignia is a MEMORABLE wine drinking experience and simply heavenly just to sit and drink without any food.

    (Opus One) Dark purple color. Powerful leather, ripe cherry, plums and damp earth aromas. Smooth as silk, very intense dark fruit flavors that are thick enough to chew on, and they just linger on and on. The richness of the fruit and minerals in the Opus One is OUTSTANDING.

    In the blind tasting each of these stood out very distinctively. For me the Insignia has more smooth flavor and softer tannins than Opus One…and the Opus One has more intense taste that carries right through to the end of the finish. Would I buy them again…without question, but next time they will be drunk without food!!! Even at these prices both of these are outstanding buys. And as someone who loves “good” red wine, I have to say these are two GREAT California picks and it’s a VERY special treat to blind taste both at the same time. With all that said, if I could only have one of these I would select the Insignia!!!

    She said: What do you get for a person who loves wine and buys all kinds of great wine experiences for you? My answer was, a bottle of Joseph Phelps Insignia and Opus One. The dinner was simple; steak, baked potato, green salad and broccoli-cauliflower-carrot mix with garlic bread. To make the occasion more fun I bought a Siduri Russian River Pinot Noir (my daughter in law’s favorite kind of wine) and had a blind tasting. Everyone immediately rejected the Pinot Noir in favor of one or both of the others. One guest did not like Opus One but did like Insignia; another preferred the Opus one but liked the Insignia and Ray and I liked both!

    (Insignia): The light but glorious aroma greets the nose and glides seamlessly into the rich jammy flavor that lasts into the long finish accompanied by a chorus of perfectly tuned tannins. With a medium body and well created dryness, the wine treats the mouth to a smooth elegant experience.

    (Opus One): Luscious ripe cherry aroma prepares the palette for and equally delicious velvety taste dished with a hint of leather. The medium body fills the mouth with just the right amount of weight and dryness while the tannins seductively tingle the tongue into a long finish.

    Which do I like best? The one I am drinking at the moment. They each offer a unique experience and picking one over the other is limiting. They are both fabulous.

    Comments: See also our tasting of Joseph Phelps Insignia 2008

Alcohol: (Insignia) 14.5%. (Opus One) 14.5%

Bar code: (Insgnia) 010465709608 (Opus One) 753604062102