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Wine & Spirits Reviews
Keenan Winery is proud to have been awarded by Wine & Spirits as one of the world’s TOP 100 WINERIES eighth times in the last ten years. We thank Wine & Spirits Magazine for this outstanding recognition.
The Wine & Spirits Magazine’s Top 100 Wineries award celebrates highly acclaimed wineries from diverse regions throughout the world of wine. The renowned wine magazine vets thousands of producers in a two-step, blind-tasting process and highlights the top 100 for their collections of outstanding wines. The winning wineries are celebrated in the world’s Top 100 Events in San Francisco and New York City.
Read some of Wine & Spirit Magazine’s reviews of Keenan wines below.
Wine & Spirits Reviews
| Wine & spirits Ratings |
A more limited production offering, the 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is composed of 80% estate Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% estate Cabernet Franc. Sadly, only 270 cases were produced. Possibly one of the finest wines Michael Keenan has yet made, it has just about everything one could desire in a Cabernet Sauvignon, including good minerality, floral, red, black and blue fruit notes, great equilibrium, stunning concentration and length, and an overall sense of purity and personality. In short, it possesses soul and delivers the goods. Approachable now, it should continue to drink well for 20-25 years.
The 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve from the estate in Spring Mountain Vineyards is the thirty-sixth vintage for the Robert Keenan Winery. This wine has 7% Cabernet Franc added into the blend and 700 cases were produced. A blockbuster wine for sure, with an inky/purple color, sweet crème de cassis, graphite, chocolate a hint of charcoal and burning embers – almost as if it wanted to behave like a Graves from Bordeaux. This is full-bodied, very rich, powerful and still moderately tannic. It’s a baby for sure, but what an impressive one. This wine needs a good 3-4 years of bottle age and should keep well for 25-30 years at the minimum.
The 2019 Red Blend Mernet Reserve is another superb wine from Keenan. This Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon blend is bold, deep and full of character. It captures all the nuance Keenan fans expect, amplified by an extra kick of richness in the fruit. Inky red fruit, blood orange, mint, cinnamon, mocha and dried flowers lend notable complexity.” Antonio Galloni, Vinous
The 2018 Cabernet Franc Upper Bowl Vineyard is effusive and soaring in the glass. Crushed red berry, mocha, wild herbs, cinnamon and blood orange lend an exotic air to the 2018 that is impossible to miss. The same can be said for the way the 2018 delivers so much fruit intensity without heaviness. It is such a gorgeous wine.
Michael Keenan’s collection of vineyard parcels at high elevations on Spring Mountain created a totally delicious 2017 Reserve. Its pure mountain-blueberry essence is hard to find outside of a sunny August day spent eating blueberries straight off the bush. There’s also a brighter glimmer of red fruit, seeming to reflect off the mineral tannins as the flavors leap out of the glass. A chef friend remarked on the complexity of this wine and how it would be easy to drink a lot of it: “The tannins are kind of perfect, begging for teriyaki beef.” Those fruit tannins have a delicacy and freshness that’s rare in any vintage, and may be a marker for the best of the 2017s. — J.G.
The 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Spring Mountain (97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc, all sourced from their high-elevation vineyards on Spring Mountain) is the deepest, richest wine of the entire portfolio, with an opaque purple color and a super-pure nose of crème de cassis and blueberries. The wine is rich, full-bodied, nicely textured, and very long in the finish, with ripe tannins. It can be drunk now or cellared for another 15 or more years.
The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve from their Spring Mountain estate has a more saturated purple color, beautiful texture, loads of blueberry and blackcurrant fruit and a touch of spring flowers. This is clearly mountain, cool-climate Cabernet with full body, sweet tannin and impressive purity. This beautiful wine from Robert Keenan can be drunk now or cellared for 20 or more years.
The 2013 Proprietary Red Blend Mernet Reserve is equal parts Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine has a saturated ruby/purple color, mostly sweet, rich blackberry and blackcurrant fruit with wild mountain flowers in the background. It’s pure and brilliantly hides any new oak. The wine is lush, medium to full bodied, long and well balanced. This is a beauty that should drink well for 15 or more years and is certainly one of the most interesting wines in the Keenan lineup.
The 2008 Mernet Reserve is composed of 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon. I’ve never liked the name that much, but I sure love the wine. Another prodigious effort from Keenan, it boasts an inky/purple color as well as a sweet nose filled with blackberry, black currant and cherry fruit intermixed with mocha and chocolate. Full-bodied and rich with an enticing suppleness as well as admirable length and texture, it should drink well for 15 or more years.
…the spectacular 2001 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Spring Mountain, another limited cuvee of less than 300 cases made completely from Keenan’s Spring Mountain estate. An inky saturated purple color is accompanied by aromas of creosote, crème de cassis, melted licorice, espresso, and toast. It boasts fabulous richness along with a big, rich, medium to full-bodied personality without a lot of weight or astringent tannin. The finish lasts for 35-40 seconds. Give it 3-4 years of cellaring; it should last for two decades.
Keenan’s impressive 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve includes 5% Cabernet Franc, with all of the grapes coming from their estate vineyards on Spring Mountain. Sage and bay leaf herbals bring savory complexity to the cassis and black cherries in this full-bodied, velvety-textured effort. Concentrated and rich, there’s plenty of material here to support 15 years or more of aging. Joe Czerwinski, The Wine Advocate
Containing 7% Cabernet Franc, the deep garnet-purple colored 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Spring Mountain offers up cassis, cedar, toast and earth on the nose with bay leaves, mint and chocolate nuances. Medium-bodied and elegant, it has firm, chewy tannins and is vibrant in the mouth, finishing with a minty lift. Antonio Galloni, Vinous, March 2018
Produced from 100% Cabernet Franc and coming from the Spring Mountain District, the 2015 Cabernet Franc shows a medium to deep garnet-purple color with vibrant red currants and cherries scents over lovely roses, lilac and bouquet garni nuances with a touch of dusty earth. Medium-bodied, finely crafted and fresh with lovely perfumed fruit, it has a long, mineral-laced finish. Yum” Lisa Perrotti-Brown, The Wine Advocate
The 2014 Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard is plump, juicy and inviting. Dark stone fruit, tobacco 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 estate vineyards on Spring Mountain.
The 2012 Proprietary Red Blend Mernet Reserve, which is a blend of 50% Merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon and 6% Cabernet Franc, may well be Michael Keenan’s favorite wine. Only 500 cases were produced. Chocolaty cassis, graphite, spice box and plum are all present in this sensational blend that should age beautifully for 15-20 years, although most people will have consumed it by year ten. It is remarkable that 2012 is the fourteenth vintage that this proprietary blend has been produced, and it seems like its just yesterday I first tasted it. The color is a handsome, opaque purple. The wine is extremely impressive and still very youthful. Another one or two years of age will round it into more complex shape.
A finely tailored mountain wine, this proves the quality that could be achieved above the fog in 2011. It has the cool feel of the forest on Spring Mountain, the wine’s freshness portrayed in scents of violets, red apple skin, cedar and humus. Savory rather than directly fruity, this emphasizes the power and grace of its tannins, their cool briskness of crushed rock leaving the mouth feeling refreshed. It may be rich, but the flavors remain precise.
The 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve shares much of the same aromatic flavor profile as the 2010, but it is a bit less tannic and structured. Layers of fruit build to an effortless, huge finish long on texture and pure class. This voluptuous, highly expressive Cabernet Sauvignon is likely to drink well earlier than the 2010, but it also has the pedigree to age gracefully for years. The blend is 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc. Anticipated maturity: 2017-2029.
…a wine that admirably demonstrates the heights to which this varietal can climb. A brilliant effort, it boasts elegant blue, red, and black fruit notes intermixed with abundant spring flower and forest floor aromas. Intense, yet light on its feet, medium to full-bodied, stylish and gracious, it is a compelling example of Cabernet Franc from a high elevation vineyard. It will be fascinating to follow this lovely wine’s evolution over the next 10-15 years.
2002 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve exhibits a saturated purple color, and a big, sweet nose of blackberries, black currants, earth, and smoky oak. Impressively endowed, well structured, with high but well-integrated tannin, decent acidity, and a long finish, it requires 2-3 years of bottle-age. It should evolve for 15-20 years.
Keenan 2002 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
TOP 9 OUT OF 535 AMERICAN CABERNETS / 94 POINTS:
“Over the last twelve months, Wine & Spirits tasted 535 American Cabernet Sauvignon wines. Nine out of the 535 Cabernet Sauvignons received the strongest praise from our critics, including the Keenan 2002 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon. Mountain-grown tannins give this a superrich feel, the flavor black and exotic with a deep, primary feel. For lamb or game sausages. (280 cases) “
TOP 100 WINERIES OF THE YEAR
Driving into the Mayacamas Mountain between Napa and Sonoma is kind of like throwing the hand brake in the fast lane. All the whirring light and urban noise of the bay’s cities abruptly halt and disappear. It’s a sudden removal that has attracted settlers to these mountains since the 19th century, and occasionally you can glimpse remains of old vineyards and some stone buildings like those that Robert Keenan found when he started his winery on Spring Mountain in 1974.
By the mid-1980s, Keenan was producing intense mountain-grown cabernet and merlot when the winery hit a snag with its lead distributor. Keenan’s difficult patch continued through phylloxera, which forced the winery to replant its vineyards between 1995 and 1998, making wine from contracted grapes in the meantime.
Keenan’s son Michael came to the winery in 1998 determined to change this course. With the help of cellarmaster Randy Kewell, manager Matt Gardner and consulting winemaker Nils Venge, the younger Keenan has been largely successful: The replanted estate vineyards came online with the 2001 vintage, and as the vines age, the wines continue to improve. His ’02 Napa Valley Cabernet, for instance, is dense and savory, its austere tannins balanced with more generous fruit from valley-floor vines. The ’04 Spring Mountain Chardonnay shows the austerity of mountain-grown fruit, here balanced with rich, spicy baked apple flavor.
The wine that best capture Spring Mountain’s terroir might be Keenan’s ’02 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, from a selection of estate vines planted at 1,700 feet. The immediate hit of black-peppercorn spice alone reflects the power of its mountain-grown fruit; its deep, juicy core of fruit furthers that impression, black as volcanic soils the vines grow in. It’s a wine that makes it clear that Keenan is back on track. – W.M.W.
This has a chalky character with sliced apples and pears and hints of lemon zest and dried herbs. Medium-to full-bodied with a creamy, weighty palate, yet the crisp acidity adds freshness and tone. Lingering, textural finish with hints caramel and pastry. Drink or hold.” – James Suckling
Bold and juicy, Keenan’s 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon is superexpressive today. Dark cherry, plum, grilled herbs, mocha, spice and licorice are all front and center. The 2018 is deep and fleshy yet retains a classic, mid-weight feel that works so well. Drink it over the next decade.
This wine’s Spring Mountain tannins explode with mineral spice, speaking directly of the estate-grown zin that’s the basis of the blend. Combined with a component from Calistoga, the fruit layers notes of fennel and anise over the black cherry depths of flavor. There’s a pink note of acidity, like Ruby Red grapefruit zest, and lighter strawberry fragrance that emerges with a day of air. A wine that tastes like it should grow where it does, this provides lovely richness and textural satisfaction without any excess weight. Serve it with grilled quail in St. Helena, or seared duck breast anywhere else. —J.G. (562 cases)
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.
The 2018 Chardonnay features notions of applesauce, honeydew melons and warm apricots with touches of brioche, chopped almonds and cedar. Medium-bodied, the palate has a refreshing line lifting the toasty/savory flavors, finishing on a fruity note. – Lisa Perrotti-Brown
…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.
Bold and delicious wine, its intensity held within the dark charm and gentle grace of the tannins. Its plummy, silken fruit feels cool, fragrant and floral, lasting with bergamot notes and gamey spice.
Blended of 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, the medium to deep garnet-purple colored 2015 Mernet Reserve opens with a meaty/earthy nose and a core of black cherries, red currants and mulberries plus pencil lead and bay leaves suggestions. Rich and concentrated, with firm tannins in the medium to full-bodied mouth, it’s packed with fruit and finishes long and earthy
Totally savory, this wine smells like seashells and tastes like green lime pith. It’s a big wine, fat in the middle, held taut by the mineral acidity that keeps it fresh and refreshing. It ends as clean as a premier cru Chablis might, here with the firm, grippy spice of a Spring Mountain white.
A red-fruited merlot, this has some blackness to the tannins that place it firmly in the Napa Valley hills. There’s a rocky sense to those tannins, along with hints of black olive and scents of conifer forests, coming together in a lasting, mineral-tinged flavor. The fruit is cool and full, integrating into the oak to create a luscious merlot that needs plenty of time in a decanter to show best.
Things get much more serious with the 2010 Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard. This sumptuous, full-bodied wine flows across the palate with layer after layer of rich, resonant fruit. The 2010 boasts marvelous depth and richness, all backed up by the structure of the year and the tannin of this Spring Mountain site. The combination of ripe fruit, acidity and structure is hugely appealing. Floral notes reappear on the polished finish. This is a great effort from Keenan. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2025.
The 2009 Mernet Reserve is a blend of 50% Merlot, 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc. It is one of the richer, deeper wines in this lineup. Dark fruit, licorice and tar emerge from the glass in this voluptuous red. The Mernet Reserve is made in a more forward style that emphasizes fruit rather than aromatic complexity or subtlety. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2019.
Keenan’s 50-50 blend of merlot and cabernet sauvignon is a tough, meaty red, its tannins needing something as rich as the braised pork in cassoulet, or shredded duck, Cantonese style. Those tannins gain elegance with air, continuing to integrate with the fruit over the course of several days. Young and strong, this will benefit from several years of cellaring. Joshua Greene
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.
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.
Barrel fermented without having gone through malolactic conversion, this is a firm, completely savory chardonnay, gaining its viscosity from the richness of alcohol. The oak feels integrated, driving star-fruit flavors toward earthier tones of bitter almond. A full-bodied white for a veal chop.
The 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon is laced with an exciting melange of black cherries, incense, tobacco, mocha, graphite and dried flowers. Deceptively medium in body, the 2010 possesses gorgeous aromatics and tons of pure nuance, all in an understated style I find highly appealing. Today, the wine is a bit compact, but it should grow nicely with further time in bottle. The 2010 is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, 61% from Spring Mountain and 39% from Pope Valley. Anticipated maturity: 2015-2025.
The 2010 Merlot is an attractive, plump offering bursting with expressive fruit. Sweet, floral and spiced notes add lift on the finish in this mid-weight, vinous Merlot. This is a decidedly accessible wine for the vintage. It is best enjoyed sooner rather than later. Anticipated maturity: 2014-2022.
… a dense ruby/purple hue along with plenty of crushed rock, black currant, black raspberry, white chocolate, and earth characteristics. A supple texture, beautiful concentration, and a long finish suggests it will continue to drink well for 15-16 years.
The fresh fruit in the middle of this wine has a lovely sweetness, like Chinese spiced plums. The earthy tannins that surround it have a touch of bitterness and an herbal edge. This is a solidly built mountain cabernet, needing age to mellow its tannin.
Another knock-out wine is the 2002 Cabernet Sauvignon, which tastes like pure creme de cassis. Beautiful purity of fruit, a deep ruby/purple color, a restrained use of oak, and a stunning finish with moderately high tannin make for an impressive Cabernet Sauvignon that should hit its prime in 2-3 years and last for 12-15.
Good merlot can often seem workmanlike, this one satisfied to hit fragrant notes of ripe cherries with clarity. It’s not pushed, and though there’s plenty of oak present in the tannins, it frames the fruit well.
The brilliant 2006 Merlot Reserve Mailbox Vineyard (a tiny 350-case lot that includes 5% Cabernet Franc) possesses a dense purple color as well as sweet notes of charcoal, black currants, black cherries, chocolate, and earth. Dense, full bodied, and beautifully constructed with silky tannins and enough acidity to provide uplift and vibrancy, it can be enjoyed over the next 15 year.
With its sweet cherry spice and supple espresso-roast tannins, this is a rich, round cabernet with density and length. Pour it while grilling a sirloin steak.
Spicy and savory, this oak-and-mineral-driven chardonnay delivers flavors of bacon fat and hominy. It carries its juicy, bold flavors into an austere, dry finish. Point it to-wards milk-braised veal.
Dark in tone, this is a plump, juicy merlot, its texture enriched by oak. A supple wine with a gamey, green-herb element in the background, this leaves a clean impression at the end. Built for a steak.
TOP 10 IN AMERICA:
“San Francisco wine competition judge who writes for Beverages & More, eCommerce Cellarmaster. ranks Keenan’s Napa Valley Merlot as one of the top 10 most popular Merlot’s in American Restaurants.”
Wine & Spirits Reviews
- 95 | Keenan 2017 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (12/20)
- 95 | Keenan 2012 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (04/16)
- 95 | Keenan 2008 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Mernet Reserve (04/12)
- 95 | Keenan 2001 Napa Valley, Spring Mountain District Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (08/05)
- 94 | Keenan 2019 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Mernet (12/22)
- 94 | Keenan 2019 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (12/22)
- 94 | Keenan 2016 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (06/20)
- 94 | Keenan 2014 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (06/18)
- 94 | Keenan 2014 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Mailbox Vineyard Merlot (12/17)
- 94 | Keenan 2013 Spring Mountain District Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (06/17)
- 94 | Keenan 2011 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (06/15)
- 94 | Keenan 2007 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (10/11)
- 94 | Keenan 2002 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (08/06)
- 93 | Keenan 2018 Napa Valley Zinfandel (02/22)
- 93 | Keenan 2018 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (12/21)
- 93 | Keenan 2018 Spring Mountain District Upper Bowl Vineyard Cabernet Franc (12/21)
- 93 | Keenan 2018 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Chardonnay (06/20)
- 93 | Keenan 2016 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Reserve Mailbox Vineyard Merlot (12/19)
- 93 | Keenan 2015 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (08/19)
- 93 | Keenan 2015 Napa Valley Zinfandel (06/19)
- 93 | Keenan 2015 Spring Mountain District Mernet Reserve (02/19)
- 93 | Keenan 2012 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Mernet Reserve (02/16)
- 93 | Keenan 2014 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Chardonnay (02/16)
- 93 | Keenan 2012 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Reserve Mailbox Vineyard Merlot (10/15)
- 93 | Keenan 2009 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (06/13)
- 92 | Keenan 2021 Spring Mountain District Chardonnay (04/23)
- 92 | Keenan 2019 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Chardonnay (10/21)
- 92 | Keenan 2017 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Mernet Reserve (12/20)
- 92 | Keenan 2016 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Zinfandel (06/20)
- 92 | Keenan 2013 Napa Valley Mernet Reserve (06/17)
- 92 | Keenan 2013 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Chardonnay (04/15)
- 92 | Keenan 2010 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (06/14)
- 92 | Keenan 2010 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Reserve Mailbox Vineyard Merlot (12/13)
- 92 | Keenan 2009 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Mernet Reserve (06/13)
- 92 | Keenan 2003 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (04/07)
- 92 | Keenan 2004 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Chardonnay (02/06)
- 91 | Keenan 2018 Spring Mountain District Reserve Mailbox Vineyard Merlot (12/21)
- 91 | Keenan 2015 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Cabernet Franc (12/18)
- 91 | Keenan 2012 Napa Valley Merlot (06/15)
- 91 | Keenan 2010 Napa Valley Merlot (12/13)
- 91 | Keenan 2011 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Chardonnay (06/13)
- 91 | Keenan 2008 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon (06/12)
- 91 | Keenan 2002 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (12/05)
- 91 | Keenan 2000 Napa Valley – Spring Mountain District Reserve Merlot (06/04)
- 90 | Keenan 2017 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (12/20)
- 90 | Keenan 2016 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley 40th Anniversary Chardonnay (04/18)
- 90 | Keenan 2014 Napa Valley Merlot (12/17)
- 90 | Keenan 2009 Napa Valley Merlot (12/12)
- 90 | Keenan 2007 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Cabernet Franc (12/10)
- 90 | Keenan 2006 Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Reserve Mailbox Vineyard Merlot (12/09)