2013 Keenan Merlot Napa Valley
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, Antonio Galloni, October 2015

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Spring Mountain District
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.” – Vinous, Antonio Galloni, December 2013

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley
92 Points:
The 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. – Vinous, Antonio Galloni, November 2013

2011 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Spring Mountain District
94 Points:
Dark 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. – Vinous, Antonio Galloni, November 2013

Why the 100 Point Scale?

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

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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