SPRING/SUMMER 2022 - NUMBER 47 - Keenan Winery
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We have received about 80% of our 47-year average of rain this year. And while this doesn’t qualify as officially ending California’s drought, it has been enough to make a significant and noticeable difference in our environment.

The natural environment around us has seemingly exploded with growth, quite a contrast to the last two extremely dry years. As a result, we’ve had to mow the cover crop in the vine rows more often this season, which is great news as a healthy cover crop is the main way to restore key nutrients into the soil.

There has also been an explosion in the bee population. There is a hive in one of the majestic Oak trees in between my house and Reilly’s house that is just going crazy right now.

The bird activity also seems more noticeable this year. The swallows have come out in force patrolling the airspace in and around the pond in front of the winery, indicating that the bug population is also doing quite well.

And most salient to our primary mission is the apparent health of all of the vineyards. Early growth got off to a wonderfully vigorous start. The fruit set was excellent, and all the canopies look just terrific.

I just read a summary article from one of the local weather service people, and they do not predict any heat events for July, which is terrific news. He described the summer so far as, ‘A little on the mild side but still warm enough for beach activities.’

Let’s hope that stays the case. Cheers to a great summer!

Cheers to the Future,
– Michael Keenan, Keenan Winery President

PS: Check out Reilly’s review of the 2020 Black Phoebe wine future, and my video on our wine future bird series, below!


2020 Black Phoebe Wine Future

A Merlot-driven spectacle is seemingly delivered straight from the right bank of the Gironde itself. This blend of 60% Mailbox Merlot and equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, each from the Upper Bowl vineyard, perfectly expresses the elegance of Spring Mountain wines. The underripe spectrum of blue and black fruits and a wall of rose petal florality dominate the early aromatics. An accent of fine cocoa powder bringing up the rear reminds you that this is a wine firmly commanded by the Mailbox vineyard.

On the palate this full bodied wine remains extraordinarily nimble and fresh. Bitter chocolate and mineral notes play off of the natural sweetness of the fruit to create a mouthwatering tension that foreshadows for this wine a long and rewarding life.

–Reilly Keenan

Watch this video to learn about our bird-themed wine series and wine futures.

Two wine glasses in the Keenan Winery tasting room.

2020, Chardonnay
James Suckling Wine Ratings, April 2022
94 Points: “A fresh and vivid chardonnay with cooked-apple, honey, and cream character. Medium-to full-bodied, fresh and bright. Tight. No malo. One for the cellar. Drink or hold.” – James Suckling

2018, Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve, Spring Mountain District
Antonio Galloni Vinous, January 2021
96 Points: “The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is such a great example of Spring Mountain. Powerful and virile, the classically-built Reserve packs a serious punch. I would give it a few years to soften, but it is super-impressive, even in the early going. Crushed red berry fruit, iron, dried flowers, mint and spice lead into the long, sculpted finish.”

2018, Keenan Merlot, Napa Valley
Antonio Galloni, Vinous, January 2021
91 Points: “The 2018 Merlot is bright, fresh, and floral, all of which make it extremely appealing to drink now. Readers will find a mid-weight, refined Merlot full of charm. Crushed red berry fruit, spice, and floral notes linger nicely.” – Antonio Galloni.

2019 Keenan Zinfandel, Napa Valley
James Suckling Wine Ratings, April 2022
94 Points: “Dried fruit, such as cherries, together with spices, black pepper, and rose petals. Medium-bodied and juicy with berries and dried orange peel. Real deal. Polished. Balanced. Mostly from their estate mountain vineyards with some Carignan and Alicante, which are co-fermented. Drink now.” – James Suckling

2018 Keenan Merlot Reserve, Mailbox Vineyard
Antonio Galloni, Vinous, January 2021
93 Points: “Keenan’s 2018 Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard is another attractive wine in the range. It offers darker tonalities of fruit to match its mid-weight personality. A touch of oak sweetness is well-judged in this very appealing, supple Merlot from Keenan. Hints of lavender, mocha, and spice add raciness throughout.” – Antonio Galloni.

In the last eighteen vintages, 100 wines have been rated between 90 and 97 points by Robert Parker Jr.’s, “The Wine Advocate.”


2020 Keenan Chardonnay Spring Mountain District

Keenan’s 2020 Chardonnay was hand-harvested, de-stemmed, then gently pressed. The juice was fermented and aged in French and American oak barrels. The wine was left on the lees, and the barrels were stirred weekly. No secondary or malolactic fermentation was carried out, leading to this wine’s crisp, citrus character. The wine was bottled after approximately seven months of aging in the cellar.

The finished wine shows citrus, ripe pear, and green apple in the nose. Hints of lush white peach are noticed as the wine opens up. The sur-lie aging has added richness and complexity, and a touch of toasty oak returns on the finish. Like all of Keenan’s wines, this Chardonnay is a food-worthy wine whose crisp acidity and medium body will accompany a wide variety of cuisine.

2018 Keenan Merlot Napa Valley

Keenan Winery is located in Spring Mountain District, high in the Mayacamas mountain range above the town of Saint Helena. Eleven acres of Merlot vines have been planted in the rocky soils surrounding the winery, and it is these vines produce some of the finest Merlot in Napa. The vineyards are situated above the dense layer of fog that creeps up the Napa Valley most evenings. Consequently, the vines warm-up earlier in the morning and stay warm through the night. The combination of warm temperatures, steep hillside vine rows, and gravelly soils promotes more stress on the vines leading to increased intensity in the finished wine.

The 2018 Keenan Merlot is composed of seventy-six percent Keenan Estate Merlot. Twenty-four percent of the wine is Merlot fruit harvested from the Napa Carneros region. After hand harvesting, the grapes were de-stemmed, then inoculated with Montrachet yeast. Fermentation ranged from ten to fourteen days.

The ‘18 Merlot has been aged in thirty-three percent new French and American oak barrels for eighteen months. The resulting wine shows intense aromas of black cherry, blackberry, and cassis. Complex nuances of cocoa and coffee bean emerge as the wine opens up. This is a “big” Merlot that will age for many years to come.

2019 Keenan Zinfandel Napa Valley

Keenan’s 2019 Zinfandel is made of grapes grown primarily on Keenan’s Spring Mountain District estate. The Estate Zinfandel imparts structure, ripe black fruit, and complex earthy nuances. Zinfandel produced in Calistoga makes up the remainder of the blend and supplies spice and briary red fruit aromas.

Once harvested, the grapes were de-stemmed and then fermented in small lots. Primary fermentation lasted seven to ten days. Finally, the wine was aged in French and American oak barrels for eighteen months.

The finished wine shows intense black cherry and raspberry fruit in the nose, while hints of black pepper and vanilla add complexity. This rich, full-bodied Zinfandel will accompany a wide array of foods.

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

The 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon is composed primarily of grapes grown on Keenan’s Spring Mountain District Estate; the remainder of the fruit was harvested from Pope Valley, a grape-growing region located in the eastern portion of Napa.

Keenan’s Estate Cabernet Sauvignon grapes were harvested on September 22nd, with the last lot being picked on October 9th. After harvest, the fruit clusters were de-stemmed, then fermented for ten to fourteen days. Finally, the wine was barrel-aged in thirty-three percent new French and American oak for twenty months.

The blend was assembled just before bottling. The Estate grown Cabernet imparts amazing concentration and remarkable structure, while the portion of Cabernet harvested from Pope Valley adds complex aromas and a balanced mid-palate.

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