Keenan Mailbox Vineyard Spring Mountain Reserve Merlot 2018
Hints of violets and a signature earthy spiciness show in the nose, and a chocolaty creaminess combines with the rich dark full fruit on the palate, the finish is beautifully layered, deep, elegant, and very, very long.
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A black-fruited merlot, this wine takes its time before reveal-ing clues of bosky cherry flavors and mineral-ity in the tannins, suggesting its origins in the heights of Spring Mountain. The fruit gains plushness as it gives up some of its tannic edges. A merlot to age or to pair with braised boar.
While the beauty and history of the land are appealing, it is the richness of the soils that makes the hillside perfect for an estate winery. These soils are, in great measure, responsible for the dramatic intensity of the fruit associated with the ultra-premium wines produced at Robert Keenan Winery.
Keenan completed a solar power system on their property that went on-line in 2007. The system supplies all of the estate’s energy needs, including the winery, administrative offices, visitor hospitality area, and the homes located on the property. The Napa Valley Vintners have recognized Keenan as a “green” winery, which they proudly announce on the back labels: Solar Powered and Sustainably Farmed.
Above the town of St. Helena on the eastern slopes of the Mayacamas Mountains sits the Spring Mountain District.
A dynamic region, its vineyards, cut by numerous springs and streams, vary in elevation, slope and aspect. Soils differ throughout with over 20 distinct types inside of the 8,600 acres that define the appellation. Within that area, only about 1,000 are planted to vineyards. Predominantly farmed by small, independent producers, the region currently has just over 30 wineries.
During the growing season, late afternoon Pacific Ocean breezes reach the Spring Mountain vineyards, which sit at between 400 and 1,200 feet. Daytime temperatures during mid summer and early fall remain slightly cooler than those of the valley floor.
Spring Mountain soils—volcanic matter and sedimentary rock—create intense but balanced reds with lush and delicate tannins. The area excels with Bordeaux varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot and in some cooler spots, Chardonnay.
With generous fruit and supple tannins, Merlot is made in a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it is often blended with Cabernet Franc to spectacular result. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly in California’s Napa Valley. Somm Secret—As much as Miles derided the variety in the 2004 film, Sideways, his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.