At our Cal tailgate party yesterday, my friend Joe told us that he wanted to share an excellent bottle of Armenian wine that he and his wife picked up on their most recent trip to Armenia. All of us laughingly said that we were looking forward to comparing this wine to all of the other Armenian wines we’ve tasted over the years – NOT.
Getting to Know Armenian Wine
I had never given much thought to whether Armenia produces wines. But low and behold, according to wineonsix, Armenia is part of the “Cradle of Wine” region in the Caucasus Mountains where we currently believe the winemaking we know today to have started. Wineonsix’s site has all kinds of interesting information about Armenian wine. In the next few sections, I’ll highlight some of the key findings. Unless otherwise noted, the quotes below come from this site.
Armenian Wine vs. Georgian Wine
Georgia, Armenia’s northern neighbor, has been making wine continuously for 8,000 years. “For some reason, the Soviets decided that Armenia would produce Brandy (despite having nothing in common with the Cognac or Armagnac regions) and so grapes from all the vineyards went into distillation. It was only 10 years ago that small, privately-owned cellars started popping on to the scene, with the real jump being in the last five years.”
Armenia is a high altitude, cool climate country with low rainfall. “The vine stress and the altitude contribute to a very unique profile overall that I’ve only seen in other similar high altitude regions.”
Armenia has a number of native grapes, including these four:
- Areni (red): According to Wine Folly, this grape “makes red wine with light hue, high clarity, fresh acidity, and soft tannins. Wines made from this grape can have sour cherry, herb, spice, and grassy flavors – which, at times, remind us of a cross between Pinot Noir and Sangiovese.” According to wineonsix, this grape is known as Armenian Pinot Noir.
- Karmrahyut (red): This is very high tannin grape.
- Kangun (white): Grapeonsix says this grape is “acidic as hell, which is further emphasized by the high altitude growing conditions.”
- Voskehat (white): According to Wine Folly, this is “a hardy and thick-skinned grape that gets along well with the hot summer and bitterly cold winter of the high Armenian Plateau. Almost all the winemakers in Armenia who make a white wine use this grape, either in varietal wine form or in a blend. It makes smooth- and medium-bodied white wine with floral, savory, tropical fruit, and stone fruit notes.”
Our Karas Red Wine
Karas is a newly established winery in the West of Armavir Region. According to their website, “Karas Vineyards estate, Tierras de Armenia, is 1000-1100 meters above sea level and is approximately 2300 hectares, with over 400 hectares devoted to the planting of the vineyards. The soil properties are comprised of volcanic loam with stony texture spread with pockets of clay. Both international and indigenous varietals are planted in the vineyards, including Chardonnay, Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Kangun, Voskehat for whites and Malbec, Tannat, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon for reds.”
We couldn’t figure out what grapes were in the wine we tried. But on their website, I see that their 2013 vintage of the same wine featured Syrah, Tannat, Malbec and Petit Verdot. A nice Western blend!
Our Tasting Video
Joe and I had fun creating this tasting video. I hope you enjoy it.
If you’ve tried Armenian wine, please share your experience with us. I’d love to hear all about it.
As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!
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