Last week, my wine friends got together for an evening dedicated to tasting unusual wines. One of the most unusual was an Armenian wine. Today, I’m going to talk about the wine and the region. Boy, would I love to visit there.
The Armenian Wine Label
Here’s what you’ll find on the wine label.
- Brand: Yacoubian-Hobbs
- Grape: Areni
- Province: Vayots-Dzor (5,572 residents)
- Village: Rind (1,400 residents)
- Country: Armenia
- Vintage: 2015
- Alcohol content: It was listed, but I don’t remember what it was. I think around 13.5%.
So, the label is pretty consistent with what we’re used to. Perhaps the additional detail of the village is a bit unusual, but all very understandable.
The Vayots-Dzor Province
According to My Armenia, “Vayots Dzor is in the south of Armenia. This small region has diverse climate zones typical to valleys and high-altitude mountains, which make gardening and viticulture prevalent in the valleys and foothills. The natural wealth of the region is the Arpa River valley, which is home to the Arpa protected landscape boasting hundreds of plant and animal species. This is where still grow the aboriginal species of wild grapes, which are considered to be the ancestor of domestic grapes. Typical local grapes in the foothills yield the most delicious wines of Armenia, which you may taste on the spot.”
The Areni Grape
According to the Yacoubian-Hobbs winery, In the village of Rind, the ancient variety that is indigenous to Armenia, Areni, thrives in the mountainous region of Vayots Dzor, where the vines flourish on the rocky, mineral-rich, volcanic soils. Hot summers are tempered by cooler temperatures at the high elevation sites, and water is provided by the melting snow caps atop Mount Ararat. The winery says that their “Areni wine expresses the unique characteristics of this ancient variety with the focus and purity that modern winemaking techniques provide.”
The Areni grape is late-ripening and makes fresh, elegant, structured wines with bright red fruit flavors, and a characteristic black pepper spice.
What We Tasted
We tasted black pepper and dark fruits, with nice fruit forwardness. We also got enjoyable acidity and tannins. Our challenge was that we couldn’t name any of the fruits we were tasting. I think we will need to try several more bottles to really get a feel for this wonderful ancient grape.
Also, we were trying to compare it to the wines we know and love. Did it taste like a Cabernet? No. A Merlot? No. A Zin? No. A Syrah? No. Okay, I think you get the point.
Who Are Yacoubian and Hobbs?
Paul Hobbs is an internationally renowned winemaker who has partnered with the Yacoubian family to make their wonderful wine. They started their partnership in 2008 and began making wine in 2014. Paul has a lovely quote that it sounds like they live by: “The soul of a wine is when it speaks to a place. If you don’t have that, then you’ve missed everything. And that quest is why we’re so fired up to be here.” Honoring the history and potential of Armenian wine is a cornerstone of the collaboration.
The History of Their Vineyard
They planted their vineyard in 2014 at a location very near the Areni-1 cave, the oldest known winery dating from over 6,000 years ago. This cave was discovered in 2007.
With their local team, Paul and the Yacoubians are growing and crafting wines that confirm Armenia’s part not only in the ancient history of wine making, but in its very relevant present and future among the great wine regions of the world.
With vineyards at elevations exceeding 5,000 feet, this mountainous region is one of Armenia’s most sparsely populated, and is home to only about 10% of the country’s vineyards.
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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Great article Betty. Thanks.