Aged 22 months in 100% new French oak, this blend of 83% Cabernet Sauvignon and 17% Merlot reveals a powerful core of red and black fruits, dusty, loamy soil, lavender and a hint of toast. I would not describe it as elegant, but rather, it is a big, backstrapping, Cabernet Sauvignon-based wine that should continue to drink well for 15 or more years. The third consecutive brilliant effort from Joseph Phelps, the 1996 Insignia was produced from a weird growing season. A freakish rainstorm in mid-May (very atypical for Napa Valley) damaged the delicate flowers, thus reducing crop yields. Heat spikes occurred in July, and many vineyards were stressed by the high temperatures as well as drought-like conditions. Fortunately, September was mild and dry overall, and October was normal with Indian Summer lasting until early November. This big, muscular 1996 does not possess the charm and finesse of the 1994 and 1995.