We first visited Karamoor Estate in 2013, when we had the privilege of spending part of an afternoon with the winery’s unassuming – and relatively new – winemaker, Kevin Robinson. He drove us around the expansive and desolate grounds of the winery before guiding us back to the main facility where he poured barrel samples from his first vintage, 2012.
The visit was highly memorable, and it produced one of the most popular posts on this site. Plus, Robinson is a very likable chap, so when Mike came to me recently with a clutch of new Karamoor releases, I was excited to taste the fruits of the winemaker’s early efforts.
Following is our exchange.
Karamoor Chardonnay 2013 ($29.99)
Mike: So you drink more Chard than I do – what did you think of it?
Jeff: I liked it. A lot. I have a soft spot for cold climate Chard, and this is what I’d call this an honest wine. I got complexity and balance from it, love that it has spice yet doesn’t come close to over-oaked. It’s more in the Chablis style, unadorned and pure.
Mike: As you know, I don’t have a soft spot for any Chards, but I thought it was excellent too. Bright and fresh, the fruit stood out for me – green apple, citrus, maybe a touch of melon. The oak influence was absolutely minimal – I found just a hint of toasty nuttiness on the finish, but that’s about it. Otherwise it was all about fruit, plus an herbal element. This made it very food-friendly – I ate it with a creamy pasta dish with lots of spring veggies and it disappeared in no time alongside the food.
You’re lucky I saved you some!
Jeff: And I appreciate that. It allows the vineyard to speak, as they say. Mineral, very good acidity and impressive length. I hear you on the the nuttiness, and I picked up maybe a little butterscotch, too. (It’s worth noting that another Pennsylvania Chard, the 2012 reserve bottling from Penns Woods, is of equal excellence.)
Let’s get into the reds.
Karamoor Estate Cabernet Franc 2012 ($32.19)
Mike: The Cab Franc was the one of the three that didn’t really do it for me. I found it to be overly sweet, like cake batter, and off-balance, as if it was manipulated. There was a boozy quality on the finish that turned me off. I gave it a bunch of air hoping it would come around, but it it never seemed to. What was your experience?
Jeff: Interesting. I thought it had good structure and intensity, with more of an oak influence. Good aromatics and lots of flavor – blackberry, tart cherry, pomegranate, earth – but I was more tuned into bitter tannins and acidity, which probably leveled the experience for me. Good color and aromatics. My gripe was the finish, which I found thin. All said, I’d definitely lay this one down a couple years.
Karamoor Estate Meritage 2012 ($32.19)
Jeff: I got tripped up a little on the Meritage.
Mike: Really? I thought it was quite good. I poured myself a hearty glass when you were here in the afternoon, so it had 2-3 hours of air before I sat down with it at dinner, and it showed very well. Dark fruits – plum, berry, were perfectly ripe, plus a nicely balanced oak element added cedar, tobacco and caramel. Tannins were tame, but the solid acidity kept things in check with my food.
Jeff: For real, and I tried it over the span of a couple days. I will say the nose is very convincing, before a drop is drunk. I got a heavy emphasis from the Merlot which adds improbable richness, round and smooth dark fruit. The fruit is there, and it’s impressive. I found it super rich and not exactly flabby but there aren’t sharp angles, which I look for. I think the wine would appeal to many – and perhaps more to me if I’d paired it with meat.
Mike: Jeff, you ignorant slut.
Jeff: OK, Dan. Don’t get me wrong — I didn’t dislike it. It had a savory herb thing, some spice and the oak is in check. Medium acid and low key tannins, with a good finish. It’s a good wine but I didn’t find an overtly distinguishing characteristic. There was a little alcohol burn, too.
What did we learn here? Let’s review:
– Karamoor continues to get it done in Montgomery County;
– Kevin Robinson’s stock as a winemaker is rising (you try to create a quality wine out of Montco…);
– Though wine drinkers can skew righteous, we all have varying, subjective tastes – this should be respected;
– Drinking local pays off;
– We want more Chard…