On August 25th 2017, Krush! hosted a U.S. wine tasting of Armenian wines made from the Areni grape. Three of the wines were 2015 Areni Reserves purchased in Armenia and we added the 2014 Yacoubian-Hobbs Sarpina purchased in the United States to the mix. All of these wines represent the wineries best lots as selected for Reserve status and each wine was given some time in oak before bottling.
To us, Areni wines are comparable to New World Pinot Noir; usually Oregon Pinot Noir which is not as fruit forward and typically has lower alcohol levels than California Pinot Noir. Like Pinot Noir, Areni requires a deft touch with the level of oak: too much new or “toasty” oak and the nuances of the Areni fruit are lost, too little and the wine doesn’t have the structure to define the package.
For this tasting we included a “Benchmark” wine, the 2014 Ayres Perspective Pinot Noir from Oregon. Typically rated between 90 and 92 points by the major fine wine publications, the Ayres Perspective made a great comparison wine for this collection of Areni Reserves.
2014 Ayres Perspective: Light red color. Fruit and floral notes on the nose, no noticable oak. Tart cherry and berry flavors with a hint of spice. Good acid carries the wine through a smooth finish.
2014 Yacoubian-Hobbs Sarpina: Dark red color. Fruit and herbal elements on the nose. On the palate reveals notes of cherry and oak. Nice weight and the acid works well with food. Tannins emerge on the finish. Similar our Yerevan tasting, this wine had the highest variation of scores from our tasters.
2015 Van Ardi Areni Reserve: Bright red color. A pronounced sweet vanilla oak element to the nose which carried over to the palate, combining with the bright cherry fruit. Smooth sweet finish. The oak really stood out on this wine – perhaps a higher percentage of French oak was used? Also notable is that Van Ardi’s Areni is estate grown in Aragatsotn Province, away from its traditional home in Vayots Dzor.
2015 Voskevaz Karasi Collection Areni: Light red color. Beautiful nose of cherry fruit with a touch of vanilla and spice. Pure, sweet fruit carries through to the palate – everything is perfectly balanced here. Less concentrated and lighter in body than the 2014, this wine offers a smooth, but short finish.
2015 Hin Areni Areni Reserve: Deep red color, the darkest of the group. Initially closed, the wine opens to reveal pomagranite and pepper on the nose. Gains strength in the glass, as more fruit elements emerge from the tannin. Everything is well balanced here; oak, fruit and acid. The long, sweet finish sends you back for another pour.
All these wines showed beautifully and all of them earn our “Very Highly Recommended” rating. This is particularly encouraging as three of the wines were from the difficult 2015 vintage – another great showing for Armenia’s signature grape!