Vinous Wine Reviews by Antonio Galloni Rates Keenan Winery 92
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Vinous Wine Reviews by Antonio Galloni

2018 Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District, 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 Mernet Reserve, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District, January 2021

95 Points: “The 2018 Red Blend Mernet Reserve, Keenan’s Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon is a bold, dense wine. Soaring aromatics and silky tannins render it approachable even young. Inky red/purplish fruit, mocha and sweet spice build over time. There is a bit of new oak coming through today, but a few years in bottle should help that integrate.”

2017 Cabernet Franc, Spring Mountain District, January 2020

93 Points: “The 2017 Cabernet Franc Upper Bowl Vineyard is a gorgeous wine that brings together all the best of the Keenan house style. Deep and fleshy in the glass, with lovely aromatic top notes, the 2017 is wonderfully deep and expressive, always in the mid-weight style that is such a house signature.”

2017 Merlot Reserve, Mailbox Vineyard, Spring Mountain District, December 2020

92 Points: “The 2017 Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard shows sweet dark cherry, lavender, spice, tobacco and grilled herbs. It is darker and richer next to the straight Merlot. Translucent and expres-sive, the 2017 will drink well with minimal cellaring. This is a very classic style.”

2017 Cabernet Sauvignon, Reserve Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District, January 2020

94+ Points: “Keenan’s 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is deep, layered and super-expres-sive. Black plum, licorice, chocolate, grilled herbs and cloves give the 2017 a distinctly dark profile to match its brooding personality. The 2017 offers terrific depth, but the tannins are a bit rough at this stage and will need time to soften.”

2017 Mernet Reserve, Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District, January 2020

93 Points: “The 2017 Red Blend Mernet Reserve is deep, fleshy and wonderfully seductive, with soft fruit, silky contours and open-knit aromatics – all of which make the 2017 a real pleasure to taste today.”

The 2016 Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard, December 2018

92 Points: “The 2016 Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard is powerful, deep and resonant, and yet also retains a striking sense of classicism in its structural feel. Savory and floral notes add aromatic intrigue to this deceptively medium-bodied wine. Graphite, mint, lavender and black cherry are some of the many notes that develop as the 2016 opens up in the glass.”

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, December 2018

91 Points: “Dark red cherry, savory herb, earthiness, tobacco and cedar add to the wine’s somewhat rustic personality, and yet there is more than enough depth in the fruit to balance things out. Medium to full in body, but very much classically built the 2016 has so much to offer”

2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Spring Mountain District, December 2018

96 Points: “The 2016 brings together dense, unctuous fruit and terrific freshness. A classically built medium-bodied wine of the style that are seldom found in Napa Valley today. Hints of sage, lavender, espresso and menthol add aromatic intrigue, but it is the wine’s balance and sense of proportion that I find most alluring today. This is a fabulous showing from Robert Keenan.”

2016 Mernet, Reserve, Spring Mountain District, December 2018

95 Points: “Blended of 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, the deep garnet-purple colored 2016 Mernet Reserve is scented of baked plums, blueberries, black cherries, earth and tobacco with pepper and herbs hints. The medium to full-bodied palate is very firm, chewy and muscular, finishing earthy.”

2016 Keenan Cabernet Franc, Spring Mountain District, December 2018

92 Points: “The 2016 Cabernet Franc is a very pretty, gracious wine. Rose petal, cedar and sweet red berry fruit all lift from the glass. Medium in body and incredibly refined, the 2016 is another positively stellar wine in this range from Robert Keenan.”

2015 Keenan 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Spring Mountain, March 2018

93+ Points: “The 2015 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is unusually unctuous and bold. Then again, that is 2015. Inky red/purplish fruit, dried flowers, lavender and licorice all infuse this opulent yet structured Cabernet Sauvignon.”

2015 Keenan Mernet, Reserve, Spring Mountain District, Issue # 233, October, 2017

94 Points: “The 2015 Red Blend Mernet Reserve, equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, is another superb wine from Keenan. Dense and pliant, but with tons of supporting structure, the 2015 is a marvelous wine in every way. A rush of succulent dark cherry, herbs and wild flowers are some of the many notes that fill out the wine’s ample, resonant frame. What a gorgeous wine this is.”

2015 Keenan Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard, Spring Mountain District, March 2018

95 Points: “The 2015 Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard is fabulous. Deep, rich and exquisitely layered, the 2015 is all class. There is a level of translucence in the 2015 that is captivating. At the same time, the wine possesses striking persistence and delineation. Dark cherry, sweet tobacco and floral notes that add lift through to the finish. The Mailbox is one of the most compelling Merlots being made in Napa Valley. Don’t miss it.”

2014 Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley, December 2016

91+ Points“The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon offers notable depth and intensity in the mid-weight, classically inspired style that runs through all these wines. The coarse, somewhat rustic, tannins need quite a bit of air to soften, but once they do, pretty red stone fruit, spice and floral notes start to develop.”

2014 Keenan Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Spring Mountain District, December 2016

93 Points“The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is an impeccably balanced wine that brings together firm mountain structure with ripe, unctuous fruit. Dark cherry, plum compote, spice, licorice and menthol are some of the many notes that give the Reserve its mid-palate density and sweetness. The firm tannins need time to soften, but this is impressive juice.”

2014 Keenan Mernet Reserve, Spring Mountain District, December 2016

96 Points“The 2014 Red Blend Mernet Reserve is a total knock-out. Firm, structured and vibrant, the 2014 bristles with energy. Striking mid-palate sweetness and overall depth add to the wine’s unmistakable personality. Deceptive at first because of its mid-weight structure, the 2014 has more than enough pedigree to drink well for many years. The Mernet is equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon from the estate’s Spring Mountain vineyard.” – Antonio, December 2016

2014 Keenan Merlot Reserve, Mailbox Vineyard, Spring Mountain District, December 2016

94 Points“The 2014 Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard is plump, juicy and inviting. Dark stone fruit, to- bacco and leather are sketched in broad strokes. Pliant and open-knit, the 2014 will drink well pretty much upon release. This, too, is very nicely done. The Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard emerges from es- tate vineyards on Spring Mountain.” December 2016

2014 Keenan Merlot, Napa Valley, December 2016

92 Points“Keenan’s 2014 Merlot is a very pretty wine that shows the more translucent side of Merlot. Lifted, bright and articulate, the 2014 offers lovely finesse in its red-toned fruit and floral aromatics.” December 2016

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, October 2015

93+ Points“The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon is deep and powerful from the get go, with beams of supporting tannin and acidity that give the wine its sense of proportion. There is plenty of nuance in the dark fruit, along with terrific aromatic complexity… This is another terrific example of the vintage.” October 2015

2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Spring Mountain District, October 2015

95+ Points“A big, bold wine, the attention-grabbing 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve has a lot to say. The vertical sense of structure allied to deep fruit results in a complex, multi-faceted Cabernet endowed with pedigree and intrigue. Sage, tobacco, menthol, black cherries and licorice gradually open up in the glass. Like most of the 2013s here, the Reserve is going to require quite a bit of patience, but it is full of potential.” October 2015

2013 Keenan Mernet Reserve, Spring Mountain District, October 2015

95 Points“The 2013 Red Blend Mernet Reserve, Keenan’s Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend is striking. Like so many wines in this vintage, however, it probably won’t be ready to drink for a number of years. Still, there is an undeniable sense of energy and vibrancy underpinning the fruit that is hugely appealing. Dark fruit, smoke, tobacco and savory herbs are some of the signatures, but the Mernet Reserve is really a wine of structure above all else. The 2013 should be a jewel when it opens up more fully in time.” October 2015

2013 Keenan Merlot, Napa Valley, October 2015

90 Points“Keenan’s 2013 Merlot is powerful, intense and structured, especially for an entry-level offering. Leather, smoke, tobacco and anise are all pushed forward in a savory, complex Merlot that offers plenty of nuance as well as personality. Hints of menthol and sage add further notes of complexity. A serious Merlot, the 2013 has enough depth to drink well for a good handful of years.” – Vinous Wine Reviews, Antonio Galloni, October 2015

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Spring Mountain District, December 2013

93+ Points“…Black cherries, plums, graphite incense and violets start to open with air, but the 2012 is a wine for the patient, as the tannins are huge and imposing. Still, the wine’s pedigree is impossible to miss. This vivid, striking Cabernet Sauvignon is built to drink well for several decades.” December 2013

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, November 2013

92 PointsThe 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon is beautiful. Dark red cherries, tobacco, mint and graphite are some of the many notes that inform this hugely attractive, medium-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon. The finish is long, silky and exceptionally polished. Tobacco, dried cherries, mint and smoke add nuance on the close. This is another relatively soft, gorgeous 2011 from Keenan. November 2013

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Spring Mountain District, November 2013

94 PointsDark cherry, plum, spice, mocha, tobacco, new leather and licorice notes emerge from the 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve. Here it is the wine’s depth and creaminess allied to a classic sense of structure that impresses. The 2011 should drink well relatively early, but there is also enough depth to support another 10-15 years beyond that, perhaps longer. The 2011 Reserve isn’t an obvious wine, but it sure is beautiful. November 2013

Why the 100 Point Scale? In the Words of Antonio Galloni, Wine Critic, of Vinous Wine Review

In 2003, when I began developing Piedmont Report, I experimented with several different scales for rating wines before adopting the 100-point scale as published in the very first Piedmont Report. As a critic, I like the 100-point scale because I feel it forces me to take a firm stance I will be accountable for in the future. Of course wine (nor the analysis of wine) is not an exact science, but I believe there is something definitive and therefore important about deciding whether a wine receives 89 or 90 points, or higher up in the scale, 95 or 96 points. Other broader scales like the various 3 and 5 star systems (and their derivatives) that are out there make it too easy for a critic to avoid taking hard positions. The 20-point scale that is common in some parts of Europe isn’t intuitive to me, so I could hardly expect you, the reader, to understand my views.

We spend just as much, if not more, time writing the text for each review and the accompanying producer commentaries than we do assigning numerical ratings. The written descriptions will tell you much more about a wine, its qualities, capacity to age and the style in which it is made than a number alone ever will. Ultimately, there is no greater satisfaction than learning to trust your own palate. Our mission is to help you find wines you will enjoy.

The Antonio Galloni/Vinous Rating Scale

96-100 Exceptional. A profound and emotionally moving wine that exemplifies the very best attributes of its kind. These are the world’s great, iconic wines

90-95 Outstanding. A wine of remarkable personality and breed that is well worth seeking out.

85-89 Excellent. A strong wine with true character that provides highly enjoyable drinking. This is the sweet spot for values and everyday wines that won’t break the bank

80-84 Average. A wine with no flaws, but no distinction

75-79 Below Average. A wine with at least one noticeable flaw

Below 75 Not worth your time

How We Taste – In the Words of Antonio Galloni, Wine Critic, of Vinous Wine Review

Each year I spend at least 6 months on the road visiting wineries all over the world. My goal is to provide Vinous readers with the most insightful, first-hand commentary on the regions I cover as is possible.

All wines are tasted in a combination of settings, including at individual wineries and in private comparative tastings, often more than once. Each year we also buy a significant amount of wines to taste. We are guided by the desire to answer the questions readers most commonly ask. These include how does a wine compare to its peers; how does a wine compare to the other wines in a producer’s range, to what extent does a wine reflect its origin, and what is the optimal time to drink a wine? The conditions under which wines were tasted are indicated within each article.

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