Saturday, December 20, 2008

Keenan Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, 1979

My introduction to the 1979 Keenan Cabernet was at a wine tasting in the early Fall of 1980. Of about 25 top California Cabs, tasted blind in three or four flights, this was my "wine of the night." I remember other tasters asking me if I ranked it high for "drinking now? or for drinking in 20 years?" My tastes were different at that time, and my answer was "either."

Even though I loved big tannic wines back in the early 1980s, I still had the good sense to cellar this wine, and the payoff was enormous. The color is remarkably deep and dark--looks like a young wine. The bouquet is gorgeous--blackcurrants and cassis. The oak that was dominant 29 years ago is now well integrated into the personality of the wine. Everything about this wine is powerful but oh so graceful. There are still plenty of tannins but they are ripe and provide support for the lovely, well defined fruit. Beautiful wine.


  1. Whoa! I almost had a heart attack seeing Keenan here! The brand is delish. They seem to make wines true to the grape. No muss, no fuss. Delish. Great, and I was trying to wind down for bed!
    Happy rest of December to you and your gal.

  2. Hey thanks, Molly. Donna was pregnant with Ursula and didn't attend the tasting in 1980 when I first had the Keenan Cab. It was delicious then, but very tannic. Some tasters thought the fruit would be long gone by the time the tannins faded. And actually the tannins are still there, but they're ripe and have backed off enough to let the powerful mountain Cabernet fruit show through.

    We had the wine to honor the birth year of Steve, Ursula's husband.

  3. I haven't had a recent vintage of Keenan Cabernet or Merlot, but I'm sure Keenan wines today are not made for such long aging. The 1978 Jordan was another wine at that tasting (my No. 2 wine of the evening). My bottles of Jordan Cab were consumed before 1990, but I read a positive tasting note on it just the other day.