Photos and article by Dr. J, TWAV Tasting Team Member
Each year, my wife and I go to South Haven, Michigan with her family as an annual get-away. Not only is it a great place to visit, it is right in the middle of the Lake Michigan Shore AVA where there is lots of great wine!
Over the last six years, we have been able to visit just about every tasting room in the region. Our first visit to Karma Vista was two years ago. It was our last stop after a long day tasting at many of the wonderful wineries in the Baroda/Berrien Springs area.
We showed up about ten minutes before the 5pm closing time and were told that the last pours happen at a quarter til the hour. For other reasons, we didn't make it last year either so this was tops on my list for 2013!
I checked out the tasting list ahead of time and was excited to see their offerings, especially the Fume Blanc. Robert Mondavi was the first in the country to use this term due to poor sales of Sauvignon Blanc at the time. Although Fume Blanc is usually attributed to barrel aging, both oaked and unoaked versions have been marketed under the name. Karma Vista is the only one in Michigan to have a Fume Blanc and one of only a few to have Sauvignon Blanc at all. The oak and light butter from the malolactic fermentation really tone down the grassy, grapefruit flavors for a wonderful, distinctive taste. This lived up to the hype and I took one home.
Next, the Chardonnay was very good. It too had some oak while being nicely crisp and balanced.
Both the Reserve Merlot and Syrah were spot on for what you'd expect from a quality red in this area: beautiful deep color, with the right amount of fruit and oak.
I try to taste wines new to me, special to a certain area, or even something not common in the area when I can. The next two were just that. Cote D'Loma is a blend of Cab Franc, Chancellor, and Chambourcin. You get loads of fruit and pepper with this blend and a little earthiness. This is a very interesting and reasonably priced wine.
The last wine was another great surprise. New to the list was Marquette. I was familiar with this Minnesota cold-tolerant hybrid but had never tasted it before. It is a grandchild of Pinot Noir and shows promise to making high-quality red wine. This medium-bodied red has a lot going on, on the palate. There is notes of blackberries, cherry, leather, tobacco, and spice. I was very impressed with this wine and took one with me.
It took us six years to finally get to Karma Vista and it was definitely worth the wait. They easily jump towards the top of my list of wineries of the Lake Michigan Shore.