In 1974 Robert Keenan purchased 180 acres in the Spring Mountain District at an elevation of 1700 feet. Keenan had studied European history at Stanford but had made some money working in real estate. Keenan was intrigued by the history of the great French regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy and sought land with the intention of creating a First Growth level, Left Bank style Bordeaux. He learned about the concept of terroir and understood that great wine started with great land and soil. The steep, rocky hillsides he found constituted the ideal, stressful environment for vine growth. They have since produced wines of concentration, structure and well-defined varietal character. The Spring Mountain District became an official American Vineyard Appellation (AVA) in 1993.
In 1998 his son Michael took over. After high school Michael Keenan had traveled to India and meditated under tutelage of a guru. When he returned to California he learned the building trade and eventually became a successful general contractor. When his father announced his intention to retire and sell the winery the son decided that the spectacular property was too special to leave the family. Keenan took over and replanted the vineyard to adjust vine density and match the various Cabernet and Merlot clones used with their optimal location, introduced sustainable farming practices such as planting cover crops between the vines to provide natural soil nourishment and converted all buildings on the property to solar power. Entry-level vineyard workers have been for some years paid an average of $15 an hour, well above California’s minimum wage.
A high performing boutique winery (total production 12,000 – 14,000 cases of about twelve different bottlings), Keenan was present at creation, so to speak, of the beginning of the rise of Napa. Yet they allowed ‘cult’ wine status, and the resulting stratospheric pricing, to pass them by. They have remained a family run, hands-on business, producing top tier wine with prices that are, by Napa standards, fairly modest. Keenan makes elegant Bordeaux-style, medium-weight wines of quiet power. Michael Keenan says the ideal drinking window for his Cabernet based wines is 6 - 15 yrs. after vintage date.
Keenan Spring Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2016
Sale Price: $98.97
Vinous, 96 pts. – “The 2016 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve is dense, powerful and incredibly inviting. 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.” (12/2018)
Wine Advocate, 94 pts. – “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. (LPB) (12/2018)
Wine & Spirits, 94 pts. – “Michael Keenan replanted his Big K vineyard in 1998, and, as the vines have matured, they have consistently put out one of the top cabernet sauvignons in Napa Valley - just look at the string of high scores and effusive notes on our website for confirmation. The latest, the 2016, marks the 40th anniversary of Robert Keenan Winery with a vibrant, brisk mountain-grown cabernet, its tart wild-cherry flavors foresty to the core. If a wine could be said to have earthy intelligence, this one does, its tannins lending stamina and deep-rooted gravitas to a cabernet that feels effortless, like it’s sleepwalking into beauty.” (6/2020)
Past Cellar Selections:
Casanova di Neri 2016 – Historic Vintage & 99pts.
Ducru-Beaucaillou 2015 – Super Second
Falletto Giacosa – Grand Cru Barolo
Gianfranco Alessandria Barolo 2016
Huët Clos du Bourg 2019 – Grand Cru from the Loire Valley
Heitz, Dunn, Continuum . . . What is a Cult Cali Red?
Chandon de Briailles - Wines Without Artifice
Magnum Bottles from CVNE Imperial
Beaux Freres Pinot Noir 2018
Viña Real Rioja Gran Reserva – What were you doing in 1987?
Domaine Simon Bize 2018 – Value Burgundy
La Rioja Alta “890” Gran Reserva Rioja 2004
Alion and Pintia – The Other Vega Sicilias
Three Oderros: for the Picnic Table, the Dinner Table and the Cellar