Monday, January 9, 2023

Keenan Napa Spring Mountain Cab with Grilled Beefsteak

Keenan Winery Napa Valley Spring Mountain Cab with Grilled Beefsteak

We grilled out New York Strip beefsteaks, served with a wedge salad, baked potatoes and baked sweet potatoes. 

I pulled from the cellar this aged twenty-year old Napa Valley Spring Mountain District Cabernet as a perfect accompaniment wine-food pairing. 

Keenan Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2003

From our collection of about a decade of vintages, I pulled the oldest vintage release, this twenty year old. This was delicious, especially paired with the grilled beefsteak, amplifying the enjoyment of each. At twenty years, this label is likely at the apex, peak of its tasting profile, not likely to improve further with aging, but certainly to be enjoyed for another decade. 

Napa Valley Spring Mountain district may be our favorite of the seventeen different appellations that make up the greater Napa Valley wine producing districts. 

We tasted and acquired several vintages of this label while visiting the estate winery and vineyards during one of our Spring Mountain District Napa Valley Wine Experiences.

I wrote more about our visit to Robert Keenan Winery on Spring Mountain in this blogpost. We discovered Keenan during our many visits to Napa Valley and our treks up Spring Mountain to visit Fantesca, Pride Cellars, Paloma and Spring Mountain Vineyards. 

We visited the winery high atop Spring Mountain above St Helena during our Napa Valley Wine Experience back in 2007 (shown left).

We have enjoyed collecting Keenan and having fun sharing and gifting it to a namesake friend and business alliance partner.
 In 1974 Robert Keenan purchased 180 acres in the Spring Mountain District at an elevation of 1700 feet, located on the eastern slope of the Mayacamas Mountain range overlooking St Helena in Napa Valley.

The Spring Mountain District gained recognition as an American Vineyard Appellation (AVA) in 1993.

The unique terroir of the appellation is characterized by low vigor soils on the steep, rocky, mountainsides, ideal for vineyards to produce wines of great concentration, structure, and pure varietal flavors.

The original acreage included the historic but crumbling Peter Conradi Winery, founded in the late 19th Century and one of the first pioneering properties established on Spring Mountain. The property was originally planted vineyards in Zinfandel and Syrah.

The property declined when it was abandoned during Prohibition until the time Keenan arrived in 1974. He extended the original vineyard acreage and replanted the property primarily in Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

A new winery was built using the existing stonewalls from the old Conradi building. Keenan Winery’s first harvest there was in 1977.

Michael Keenan took over leadership of the estate in 1998 and replanted the vineyards to increase grape quality. He built a solar power system that went on-line in 2007 that now supplies all of the estate’s energy needs.  

Notably, winemaking duties during the early years were done by legendary consulting winemaker Nils Venge. We hold many labels of Nil's own wines as well as many of the wines he crafted for Del Dotto and many other leading labels. Nils was winemaker for this 2003 Cabernet release as shown on the rear label (below).

Today Keenan Winery produces four estate wines from grapes grown on the Spring Mountain Estate: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve, Cabernet Franc and a Merlot Reserve from the Mailbox Vineyard.

I last/first wrote a tasting note on this label back in 2010 when I wrote this: 

Deep bright garnet colour. Forward full bodied fruit with chewy plum, raspberry and currant flavors.At that time I gave this 91 points. 
The 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon was composed primarily of grapes grown on Keenan’s Spring Mountain District Estate; the remainder of the fruit was harvested from select vineyards within the Napa Valley. The wine was barrel aged in thirty-three percent new French and American oak for twenty months.

Wineamakers notes for this release: "The blend was assembled just before bottling. The Estate grown Cabernet imparts amazing concentration and remarkable structure, while the portion of Cabernet harvested from the Pope Valley region of Napa has added complex aromas and a balanced mid-palate. Merlot from the Napa Carneros district imparted ripe berry nuances and plenty of forward fruit."

Wine and Spirits gave this release 92 Points in 2007, Robert Parker's Wine Advocate gave it 91 points.

This was a blend of 95% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot. The Vineyard Sources were 69% Keenan Spring Mountain Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, 26% Pope Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. The 5% Merlot came from Napa Valley Carneros.
Production was 3,075 Cases.
As mentioned above, at twenty years, this label is likely at the apex, peak of its tasting profile, not likely to improve further with aging, but certainly to be enjoyed for another decade. 
Dark blackish/blue inky colored, full bodied, rich round concentrated, complex but elegant and refined and balanced - hugely aromatic, ripe black berry and black currant fruits with notes of licorice, black tea, forest floor and tobacco leaf with sweet oak on the lingering finish.

RM 93 points.