We Impressed Dustin Wilson, M.S. At His First Armenian Wine Tasting!

On February 26th we got together with members of our U.S. tasting team to revisit a handful of our favorite Armenian wines with Master Sommelier Dustin Wilson. Many of you may know Dustin as one of the stars of Somm, the 2012 documentary about incredible tasting skills and knowledge needed to pass the Master Sommelier exam. (The movie is available on Netflix and we highly recommend it.) Currently Dustin is an owner/operator of the Verve wine store in New York City.

We tasted five wines: four 100% Areni reds and one Khndoghni red from Artsakh:

  • Van Ardi Areni Reserve 2015
  • Yacoubian Hobbs Sarpina 2014 (Areni)
  • Voskevaz Karasi Collection Areni 2014
  • Old Bridge Areni Reserve 2012
  • Kataro Reserve Khndoghni 2014

This was Dustin’s first chance to try Armenian wines and we were curious to get his reactions. As we tasted the wines, Dustin peppered us with questions about soil type, climate and wine making technique, most of which we able to answer. Here are some of his observations:

“The Khndoghni from Kataro is a big, powerful, concentrated wine. There are plenty of people who like this type of wine, but it’s not my favorite style. Khndoghni must be a very fast ripening grape to get this level of sugar and concentration at such a high altitude with a short growing season”.

Of the Areni wines, Dustin noted, “if you hadn’t told me they were all from the same grape I wouldn’t have guessed it. While the Yacoubian-Hobbs and Old Bridge wines were similar in style and flavor profile, the other 2 were quite different. In general I really liked the perfumed, high acid, delicate style of the Areni wines from the Vayots Dzor.

Once it was revealed that the Van Ardi Areni was grown in a different area from the other wines, Dustin reasoned “The Van Ardi had much less acidity than the other wines, most likely due to a warmer climate. While quite tasty, to me it was markedly different than the wines made from Areni grown in the Vayots Dzor.”

“My favorite wine was the Voskevaz – it’s definitely funkier than the others, but to me, the combination of the wine making technique and the grapes from old vines produced a wine that speaks more to place than the other Areni wines.”

Dustin summarized: “This was a super fun tasting. All the wines were well made and very impressive given the youth of the Armenian wine industry. I expect as Armenian wine makers continue to experiment with vineyard practices and wine making they will get better and better at expressing the unique character of Armenia in their wines.”

For detailed tasting notes, click here.