|Renate, Laura and Bill|
In the last eight vintages Robert Parker has given 47 Keenan wines ratings between 90 and 97. I have never been much of fan of Robert Parker’s ratings or the ratings by most other famous wine critics, but I certainly agree with his high ratings of Keenan wines. (I do love the writings of Steve Heimoff, Matt Kramer and some other famous writers, but that is another story.)
|View from front of building.|
Our red wine tasting began with the Robert Keenan 2008 Napa Valley Zinfandel at $34. About 65% of the fruit is from Spring Mountain. It is a very nice Zin with some cherry on the nose and more red berry and spice on the palate. This is not one of your thin zins, nor an overpowering high-octane one that will clear your sinuses. It is a big, interesting, complex and spicy zin with plenty of fruit. It should pair well with food. Next was the Robert Keenan 2008 Merlot ($36) with about 80% estate grapes and 20% from Carneros. The mountain fruit gives it tannin, structure and balance that many tepid, one-dimensional Merlots do not have unless blended with Cabs. This one is excellent and easily stands on its own as one of the better Napa Valley Merlots. This was followed by the Robert Keenan 2008 Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($49) that is 76% estate fruit with the rest coming form Pope Valley. Robert Parker gave it a 94 and I think it is well deserved. This is a much more complex Cab than I associate with the super ripe fruity Cabs that Parker often seems to praise. I got some cherry on the nose with a big, rich, complex, structured palate that delighted the senses and was followed by a long finish. This wine probably was not so drinkable a year ago but is just now coming into its own. Even though it is quite drinkable now, it would be a great one to lay away for a number of years. The next wine to dazzle us was the Robert Keenan 2008 Napa Valley Syrah ($38) which comes mostly from Coombsville. Tons of fruit with good integrated tannins, pleasant chewiness and great structure, this one is not a fruit bomb like some Syrahs. If you are tired of one-dimensional, fruit forward Syrahs, that have little going on, then try this one. Our final tasting was of the Robert Keenan 2006 Tribute Cabernet Sauvignon ($96). I got some incredible fruit on the nose, mostly blackberry, with a powerful but delightful palate of black fruits and some floral notes. It clearly needs plenty of air. As Laura said, we could come back to it in a day or two after opening it and catch it after it fully opened up. I liked it a lot but I think it is one to lay away for a few years even though it is already six years old. If you drink it now give it plenty of air in a decanter first.
Addendum: We had the Robert Keenan 2008 Cabernet Franc ($60) yesterday 7/4/12. It had not been available for tasting and was almost completely sold out. It was a deep purple color with a good aroma. On the palate it was intense but balanced, richly textured with lots of ripe fruit. (Robert Parker rated it a 95. ) I would love to try it side by side with the Chappellet, Titus and Gerard.
Addendum: We drank the Robert Keenan 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon ($49) 7/15/12. This was the one that Robert Parker rated at a 94. It was even better than I remember at the winery. We already planned to put this on our updated favorite list, but it is a standout even among our favorites and could easily sell for twice the price. This is another incredible Spring Mountain cab. If you give it some air it improves, becoming more integrated and subtle. It is a bit more fruit oriented than most other Spring Mountain Cabs but that is neither praise nor criticism. It tips somewhat toward ripe fruit but still has a lot of terroir and is very much a mountain wine. It is among my very favorite Napa Valley Cabs, which is to say, among the finest wines I have ever tasted. If you can find this wine anywhere, buy it. It really is exceptional.
Robert Keenan Winery
Saint Helena, CA 94574