The 2013 Karas Reserve Red was the first vintage of this wine and really showed what the team of winemaker Gabriel Rogel and Consultant Michel Rolland could produce from Karas’s Armavir vineyards. The 2014 Karas Reserve is now in the market and we couldn’t resist comparing it to the acclaimed 2013 Reserve and a highly rated California wine from Booker Vineyard.
The Karas Reserve is a blend of Syrah, Malbec, Tannat, Montepulciano and Petit Verdot. That’s not a common blend, but we thought the Booker Vineyard wine called “My Favorite Neighbor” would make a good comparison. It’s a mix of Syrah, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2014 My Favorite Neighbor received a score of 97 points in the August 2016 issue of the Wine Advocate.
Our panel of six blind tasted each of the three wines. All three wines received high scores and the panel split evenly 2-2-2 in terms of favorites.
The 2013 Karas Reserve has a deep red violet color all the way the rim. The nose opened to reveal dark black fruits with complimentary herbal tones. Tart plum fruit on the palate with a beautiful balanced of fruit, oak and acid. Plenty of round tannins support this wine through a long finish. In terms of taster scores, the number one rated wine of the three.
The 2014 Karas Reserve displayed the same color as the 2013. On the nose the herbal and mineral elements dominated, with the black fruit emerging as the wine opened up. A little less acidic and tannic than the 2013, the wine still feels young with plenty of promise ahead.
Several of the tasters identified the Booker 2014 My Favorite Neighbor as the non-Armenian wine in the tasting. Vanilla tones from the French oak on the nose combines with ripe raspberry fruit to make this wine a little more fruit forward than the Karas wines. Packed with tannins, this wine carries the fruit into a long finish. The most controversial wine of the 3, tasters either rated it #1 or #3 in terms of their preferences.
Our panel uniformly praised the Karas Reserve wines. They are extremely well made and are great values compared to similar full-bodied red wines from France and the United States.