Keenan Reserve Merlot Mailbox Vineyard Spring Mountain District
It all started with the 2000 Keenan Merlot Napa Valley Reserve
While conducting blending trials for the 2000 Napa Valley Merlot, one lot of estate Merlot was found to possess even more extraction and intensity than the other 2000’s. Consequently a portion of the lot was set aside and designated a reserve wine. Additional trials were conducted in order to determine if the wine could be further enhanced. As a result ten percent estate Cabernet Sauvignon was added in order to supply complexity and depth and fifteen percent Merlot from the Napa Carneros region provides additional ripe fruit nuances. The resulting 2000 Merlot Reserve is a bold, full-bodied wine. Ripe black cherry and roast coffee bean show gracefully in the nose and hints of toasty oak are exhibited on the finish. Soft and round, this wine was delicious upon release, but mind-blowing since 2016.
The 2002 Merlot Reserve is composed primarily of fruit grown on Keenan’s Spring Mountain District Estate; ninety-five percent of this wine is from the “Lower Bowl” vineyard.The Lower Bowl Merlot possessed additional concentration and richness, so a portion was set aside to produce a Reserve wine.As blending trials progressed, it was decided that the wine would be enhanced by a small amount of Keenan’s Napa Carneros Merlot. Only five percent of the Carneros Merlot was added, just enough to soften the wine slightly, and add some additional ripe fruit nuances.
The 2002 Merlot Reserve is a bold, full-bodied wine. Ripe black cherry and roast coffee bean show gracefully in the nose and hints of toasty oak are exhibited on the finish. Soft and round, this wine is delicious right now, but has the structure to age for many years to come.
2003 Reserve Merlot, Mailbox Vineyard Spring Mountain District
Simply put, the 2003 Reserve Merlot is one of the purest expressions of great Merlot that we have ever produced in the twenty-seven vintages of the Robert Keenan Winery.This is our first 100% single vineyard estate Merlot since the much remembered “Mailbox Merlot” of 1997.The Mailbox Vineyard was replanted to Cabernet Sauvignon after the 1997 harvest, and we never imag- ined we would use the Mailbox Merlot designation again.
The grapes that went into this wine were grown in our “Lower Bowl” vineyard.To commemorate the Lower Bowl achieving the status of our favorite Merlot vineyard we installed an old mailbox at its highest point and rechristened it “Mailbox Vineyard”.
The 2003 Merlot Reserve is a bold, full-bodied wine. Ripe plum and roast coffee bean show grace- fully in the nose while hints of toasty oak are exhibited on the finish. Powdery tannins add tex- ture to the palate, yet the wine is round and well balanced.This wine is delicious right now, but has the structure to age for many years to come.
Jump forward to the 2013 Keenan Reserve Merlot, Mailbox Vineyard Spring Mountain District
The Robert Keenan Winery is located in Spring Mountain District, high in the Mayacamas mountain range above the town of Saint Helena. We planted eleven acres of Merlot vines in the rocky soils surrounding the winery and we believe this mountainside vineyard produces some of the finest Merlot in all of Napa Valley. Sited above the dense layer of fog that creeps up the Napa Valley most evenings, the vineyard warms earlier in the morning and temperatures remain warm throughout the night. The combination of these warm temperatures, steep hillside vine rows, and gravelly soils promotes stress on the vines, leading to increased intensity of flavors and aromas in the finished wine.
The 2013 Merlot Reserve is made up of 95% Merlot from our Mailbox Vineyard. 5% Cabernet Franc from our Upper Bowl Vineyard has been added to brighten and deepen the unique characteristics of these high elevation vineyards. Hints of violets and a signature earthy spiciness show in the nose, a chocolaty creaminess combines with the rich dark full fruit on the palette, the finish is beautifully layered, deep, elegant and very, very long. Drink now or decades from now.
Rave reviews keep coming in, such as this:
Robert M. Parker, Jr.’s, The Wine Advocate, Issue #222 October, 2015
94 Points: “As for the 2013 Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard, this is 95% estate Merlot and 5% estate Cabernet Franc. This shows beautiful fruit, medium to full body, more layers of concentration and interest than the basic Merlot. The wine has excellent purity, loads of black cherry and mocha notes, along with darker berry fruit. It’s full-bodied, ripe and pure and at the same time never loses its sense of elegance or equilibrium. Drink it over the next 10-15 years..”
Spring Mountain District
In Mexico, everybody’s mother makes the BEST mole–and no one is going to give you her recipe. Here at Keenan, we’ve done a little research of our own and believe this Epicurious recipe is worth sharing. Personally, we double the chocolate. But that’s just us. Either way it is scrumptious with Keenan Reserve Merlot Mailbox Vineyard.
- 3 tablespoons (or more) peanut oil (preferably unrefined), divided
- 5 pounds skinless boneless chicken thighs
- 3 cups low-salt chicken broth
- 2 cups orange juice
- 1 1/4 pounds onions, sliced
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 6 large garlic cloves, sliced
- 4 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 4 teaspoons coriander seeds
- 4 ounces dried pasilla chiles,* stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces, rinsed
- 1 ounce dried negro chiles,* stemmed, seeded, torn into 1-inch pieces, rinsed
- 1/4 cup raisins
- 4 3 x 1/2-inch strips orange peel (orange part only)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 3.1-ounce disk Mexican chocolate,** chopped
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Warm flour tortillas
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add chicken to pot; sauté until lightly browned, adding more oil by tablespoonfuls as needed, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer chicken to large bowl.
Return chicken and any juices to pot. Add broth and orange juice; bring just to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until chicken is tender and just cooked through, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until golden brown, about 18 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add almonds, garlic, cumin, and coriander. Sauté until nuts and garlic begin to color, about 2 minutes. Add chiles and stir until beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.
Using tongs, transfer chicken to large bowl. Pour chicken cooking liquid into saucepan with onion mixture (reserve pot). Add raisins, orange peel, and oregano to saucepan. Cover and simmer until chiles are very soft, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat; add chocolate. Let stand until chocolate melts and sauce mixture cools slightly, about 15 minutes.
Working in small batches, transfer sauce mixture to blender and puree until smooth; return to reserved pot. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Coarsely shred chicken and return to sauce; stir to coat. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Chill until cold, then cover and keep chilled. Rewarm over low heat before serving.
Transfer chicken mole to bowl. Sprinkle with cilantro. Serve with warm tortillas.
Available at many supermarkets and at specialty foods stores and Latin markets.
** Dark, sweet, grainy-textured chocolate disks flavored with cinnamon; available at Latin markets and from mexgrocer.com.