Three months ago, for the eighth time in the last five years, we headed west out of St. Helena, then took that familiar left turn to wind our way up the mountain. Fifteen minutes later, we pulled into 3660 Spring Mountain Road for what is always one of our most anticipated Napa Valley tastings of the year. To say the least, we wouldn’t be disappointed.
The Spring Mountain AVA is the coolest and wettest of Napa Valley. In most years, summer afternoons are cool, tempered by waterfalls of fog that billow over the western ridge and down through the canyons. In the evening, as cool air settles over the valley floor, warm air is pushed up into the mountains. The combined effect of cooler days and warmer nights allows Bordeaux varieties to ripen more slowly than elsewhere, often pushing back the call to harvest into mid- or even late October.
As Spring Mountain tends to get 10 to 15 inches more rain than St. Helena down below, in our experience, it’s in the dry, mild years that Keenan shines brightest. After spending two hours in the family’s sumptuous new tasting room smelling, swirling, and sipping what many believe to be the richest and most age-worthy wines on the mountain, it was clear that 2012 is a one-of-a-kind vintage for Keenan — and the 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon “Reserve” is one of the greatest wines ever to come off this sensational estate.
Robert Parker said it best when he called Keenan’s 2012 “Reserve” “a blockbuster … a baby for sure,” with a drinking window between 2015 and 2045! Inky purple. Powerful aromas of blackberry, licorice, and black currant tinged with graphite and tobacco, buttressed by plenty of new-wood cedar. Massively concentrated, plush, and juicy, filled with crushed-black-fruit jam, mountain blueberry, and dark chocolate, doused with crème de cassis, finishing with ripe but sturdy tannins that argue eloquently for the longevity that Parker suggests.
Spectacular. Soft yet fruity with 30 second plus finish. Wish I bought more.
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