DECEMBER 26, 2005 / Issue 162
"This 50-acre Spring Mountain estate, which has been hitting on all cylinders over recent vintages, is emerging as one of the region’s finest producers, thanks in part to winemaking guru Nils Venge, who is their consultant. Readers looking for a Chablisean-styled California Chardonnay should check out Keenan’s 2004 Chardonnay Spring Mountain, which saw about 20% new oak and the rest neutral wood as well as stainless steel. Aromas of pears, citrus oils, and minerals jump from the glass of this elegant, flowery offering. With abundant fruit and crisp vivaciousness, it should be enjoyed over the next 1-3 years."
"Robert Keenan’s 2003 vintage is a success, especially for the limited production cuvees. The dark ruby-colored, elegant 2003 Merlot is primarily from the estate vineyards, and includes 5% Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. Offering hints of mocha intermixed with coffee bean, black cherry, earth, and herb characteristics along with a clipped finish, it should be consumed over the next 5-6 years. Richer, more textured and nuanced is the spicy, earthy, smoky, black currant-scented and flavored 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon (includes a small amount of Merlot). This medium-bodied Cabernet will make an ideal candidate for consumption over the next 7-8 years. Cabernet Franc does extremely well under the Keenan/Venge partnership, and the 2003 Cabernet Franc is a beautifully ripe, floral, earthy wine with a dense ruby/purple color, and copious amounts of intense flavors and richness. It can be drunk now and over the next 7-8 years. Sadly, there are only 280 cases of this 100% Cabernet Franc. The brilliant 2003 Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard (100% estate Merlot) exhibits superb fruit, purity, texture, and depth as well as loads of sweet melted licorice interwoven with notions of espresso roast, cherry liqueur, white chocolate, and subtle wood. Medium to full-bodied, pure, and elegant, it will age effortlessly for 10-15 years. A blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot, the fruity 2003 Mernet Reserve offers hints of white flowers, blueberries, licorice, cassis, espresso, and truffles. Displaying beautiful fruit on the attack, medium to full body, deep penetration as well as surprising finesse and balance, this is a superb example of high elevation Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Drink it over the next 12-15 plus years. Notes of graphite, blackberries, blueberries, and cassis emerge from the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve along with underlying sweet earthiness and licorice. It possesses exceptional elegance, a flowery, fragrant bouquet, and gorgeously long, concentrated, intense flavors. Drink this beauty over the next 15 years. The competent 2003 Zinfandel offers plenty of briery, berry fruit along with hints of earth and flowers in a medium-bodied, stylish format. Drink it over the next 3-4 years."
"The 2004 Merlot exhibits abundant chocolate-like characteristics in its elegant personality. Riper and sweeter than the 2003, it should provide pleasure during its first 7-8 years of life. The 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon appears to be outstanding. Dense and opulent with an inky/purple color as well as intense creme de cassis fruit intermixed with smoke and graphite notes, it should drink well young, and evolve for 12-15 years.'