Phelan Vineyard

2001 Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon •Estate Vineyard

California: Napa Valley

Offer Expired:Oct 11, 2008 at 11:59 pm
Avg. Price

What we say


Today’s wine is one of the best Napa Cabernet Sauvignons that we have ever had the pleasure to taste.


Enjoy an FREE GROUND SHIPPING, when you buy 6 or more bottles. Enter promotion code: CABSPY at checkout.

Mission Codename: Dark Side of the Moon

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Revisit Phelan Vineyard and procure a great library vintage Cabernet Sauvignon

Mission Status: Accomplished

Current Winery: Phelan Vineyard

Wine Subject: 2001 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker: Arlene Phelan


The Mount George region of Napa Valley lies just northeast of Napa, near Highway 121, and north of the famous Stags Leap District. The fruit for this exceptional wine were grown at the Phelan Vineyard which has an average elevation of 1200 feet and a northwest exposures. These factors combined with the unique climate and soil are ideal for bold and concentrated Cabernet Sauvignon.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dark purple and slightly inky in clarity with a deep core that becomes almost black in color. This wine has garnet and deep ruby edges and when swirled long slender legs accompanied by clusters of slower and thicker tears cling to the side of the glass.

Smell – Profoundly bold with extremely well balanced aromas of black currants, black cherries, spicy pepper, herbaceous green bell peppers, toasted vanilla and oak, cocoa and a floral hint of violets and a touch of bacon fat.

Feel – Be sure to give this wine some time to fully open and you’ll be rewarded by a rich and full-bodied wine that is extremely well structured. A dry and smooth attack with firm but fine tannins and good acidity that is chewy as you explore all the flavors of this wine.

Taste – Boldly masculine but also elegant with tightly integrated black fruit including black cherries and black currants, toasted oak with a touch of vanilla, herbaceous green pepper, a touch of black pepper and a hint of cocoa.

Finish – This wine finishes long and smooth and despite its bold flavors has tremendous finesse.

Conclusion – Once again, we were blown away by Alrene Phelan’s creation. This Cabernet Sauvignon is everything you’d expect and more. Great fruit, from an outstanding vintage (2001 was rated 98 points by Wine Enthusiast), hand crafted with attention to details and the result is simply an exceptional wine. This wine has all the qualities to continue to age gracefully but is also drinking exceptionally well right now.

Mission Report:

Phelan Vineyard is a fully vetted Wine Spies winery. Below follows the original mission report submitted by Agent Red’s first meeting with Phelan.

Its late and I am exhausted. Thank goodness I am back from my latest mission abroad. These International missions can be grueling, especially those which require me to go deep under cover.

I grab my suitcases from the turnstile and head out the airport doors to catch a cab home. Its late and its cold and I am miserable, but I will soon be back at Central Command – and that give me small comfort.

“Where to, Mack?” asks the cab driver.

I give the driver the approximate address and settle in for the half-hour ride. I use the time to catch up on some Wine Spies emails on my handheld device. After a few minutes, I sense that something is wrong. Looking out the windows, I discover that we have just deviated from the proper route.

I lock eyes with the driver, in his rearview mirror. A moment later, the doors lock, and the windows and the divider between me and the driver tint to a opaque black. I cannot see outside of the vehicle. Grabbing at the handle and at the lock, I discover that I cannot open the door.

“Settle down, Mack.” says the driver.

Keeping my cool, I ask him where he is taking me. Silence. .. We drive on.

After nearly an hour the vehicle stops and I hear the driver door open and then close. I wait a few moments, bracing myself for my own door to open. It never does and I try the door handle again. The door swings open and I discover that I am inside of a vast darkened and empty warehouse.

Across the expanse, a pool of light catches my eye. Under it is a small table – with an object sitting atop it. As my eyes adjust, I am instantly aware that the object is a wine bottle.

I quickly make my way across to the table. Once there, I pick up the bottle and read the label. “Phelan Vineyard – 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon” . My heart skips a beat. This particular wine had been eluding me for some time, its creator a difficult woman to place under surveillance.

This is the sort of wine I had hoped to return with. Instead, my away mission had been a total bust.

Looking down at the table, I notice a small envelope. In neat handwriting, I read the words, “Agent Red”. Opening it, a small card falls to the table, writing-side-down. I flip it over and read, “Don’t move!” My training kicks in and, without thinking, I grab the bottle and dive beneath the table. In that instant, a light flashes before my eyes and familiar voices shout out, “Welcome home!”.

“Welcome home, Red!”

It’s Agent White and the rest of the team.

“We know how badly it went for you in [CENSORED] and we thought we’d cheer you up. Arlene Phelan sent you this bottle with her regards. It seems that she was running counter surveillance on you for some time. She hopes that you enjoy the wine.”

And did I ever! Arlene Phelan is my new Napa Valley Hero. Her wine is fantastic and once I settled back in and made contact with her, she was more than happy to make a small allotment available to our Operatives for today. Don’t buy any, though, what you don’t snap up, I will!

Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Phelan Vineyard and Mount George region can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the winery says

Phelan Vineyard, Member, Napa Valley Vintners

Awards & Accolades:

92 Points – Exceptional – Beverage Testing Institute,

About The Wine:

Noted as “smooth, rich, sleek and plush…”, this intense wine has garnered wide acclaim. The aroma blossoms with succulent black cherry and chocolate, flowing to notes of toasted vanilla. Plush and intense flavors of plum, cassis, and dark chocolate fill the mouth. The smooth, velvety finish unfolds to intriguing dimensions, bringing the wine to a polished close.

About The Winery:

Arlene bought the land that part of the vineyard is on in 1969 with an idea that she would build a home on it sometime in the future. After marrying and moving to Cleveland, Ohio with Gerry for fourteen years, they returned to build their dream house. After construction of their home, the next logical step seemed to be to add a vineyard in an old olive orchard that existed on the property.

After working with several consultants, Arlene attended Napa Valley College taking most of the vineyard and winemaking classes which allowed her to feel confident she could manage the vineyard herself. She was working as a bilingual kindergarten teacher at the time, making communicating with Spanish speaking workers very useful. Arlene taught school full-time in Napa and managed all aspects of the vineyard spraying, mowing, pruning and watering usually early evenings, early mornings and weekends with part-time help.

An Oakland, California native and graduate of Mills College in Oakland, her love of growing things and gardening began as a child growing up in an Italian immigrant family where a large garden always was plentiful and homemade wine was on the table every night.

Gerry grew up in Canada, Montreal and Ontario where he went to high school and college. He moved to the United states after he and Arlene married in 1972 in Napa, California.

The adjacent property became available and was acquired by the Phelans in 1996 and they immediately planted to grapes.

Gerry and Arlene believe that great wine begins in the vineyard. For this reason Arlene monitors the watering schedule carefully and checks to be sure each plant receives water at the crucial times during the growing season. Some leaf pulling occurs on the shady side of the rows, some thinning is done in heavier crop years. In the beginning in 1992 to 1995 Arlene did every vineyard job in an effort to understand what was involved and the time it took to do it. She sprayed by hand, pruned, picked up the prunings and hauled them out and burnt them. Now she has the vineyard mowed and pruned, but continues to discuss daily during the growing season the best practices fort what is going on in the vineyard. No vacations are taken during the growing season, generally March 31 through October 31.

After a difficult process the Phelans received all the necessary permits to build a wine cave which is now in place, and is where the wine is stored and racked. A consistent 58 degrees keeps the wine naturally cool and minimizes the need to top and eliminates huge electrical use.

The Vineyards:

The hillside vineyard sits at almost 1,200 feet in a growing region located in the southeast corner of the Napa Valley known as Mount George. This part of the Napa Valley is cooler than most of the area, but the altitude of the vineyard and its northwest exposures provide excellent ripening conditions for the Cabernet Sauvignon based wine. The limiting mountain soils naturally control the size of the crop ensuing the grapes have excellent concentration of flavor.

The area is above the fog line ensuring warm summer days and cool evenings, the exposure allows sun into the canopy from early morning until late afternoon during the growing season, creating deep magenta color and intense berry flavors in the wine. Cool breezes off San Francisco Bay allow air into the canopy keeping mildew problems to a minimum.

The first area planted in 1992 is on rootstock 3309 clone 8. This area is head trained, spur pruned but is slowly being converted to head trained, cane pruned on the advice of consultants to ensure better vine health. The newer vineyard planted in 1996 is on rootstock 110R clone 337 and is head trained, cane pruned.

All of the fruit for the wine comes exclusively from these two vineyards, harvested together and blended into 100% estate Cabernet Sauvignon wine.

Technical Analysis:

Varietals: 100% estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon.

Total Acidity: .60g/100ml

pH: 3.52

Alcohol: 14.2%

RS: .02g/100ml

Maturation: 23 months in 100% French oak, 50% new

Bottled: September 23, 2003

Production: Only 840 cases produced.

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