Special Thanks To EVN Wine Academy for hosting:
Anush Avetisyan, EVN Wine Chemistry Lab,
Mikayel Mikayelyan, Head of EVN Wine Chemistry Lab, and
Silva Atoyan, EVN Programs Manager who made this evening possible!
On June 16th 2017, EVN Wine Academy (EVN) hosted a wine tasting of Armenian wines made from the Areni grape. We used the Academy’s professional wine tasting room and their 20-point scoring system. In addition to the Krush! team, 8 other EVN graduates participated. The wines were served in pairs, each pair was scored and discussed before we moved on to the next pair. Tasters were informed that there were 4 Areni wines, one Italian Sangiovese and one American Pinot Noir in the mix. The identities of the wines were revealed at the conclusion of the tasting.
Tamara with her perfect scoresheet!
Anoush reveals the Pinot!
Areni is the primary red wine grape of Armenia. Almost all Areni is grown in the Vayots Dzor region, although there are some plantings further north in the Aragatsotn region as well. Areni is well suited to the climate – cold winters, hot summers and a slightly cooler fall. The grape’s flavor profile has been compared to a blend of Pinot Noir and Sangiovese. To us, most Areni wines taste like a typical California Pinot Noir; ripe fruit, medium bodied wines. There are currently at least 10-12 producers making quality Areni wines. Most of them ferment their Areni wines in steel and bottle them with little or no time in oak. “Reserve” wines generally mean that the wine has spent 10-14 months in oak. For this tasting, we choose 4 of the higher priced Areni wines representing some of Armenia’s top producers.
2012 ArmAs Areni Reserve: Bright red color. Cherries, cranberries on the nose, licorice and floral notes emerge as the wine opens. No noticeable oak. A beguiling nose, but the wine doesn’t fully deliver on the palate, no noticeable tannins, short finish. Overall rank #7, scores ranged from 13-15.
2012 Fèlsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia: Brick red with a brownish tinge. Some sediment in the glass. Kirsh aromas on the nose with notes of Provencal herbs. Bright fruit on the palate with some sour plum/cherry notes. Long smooth finish. We liked this wine but most of the group did not: Ranked #8, scores ranged from 9 to 18. The majority of tasters identified this as a non-Areni wine and most thought it was the Italian wine in the mix.
2014 Zorah Karasi Areni: Bright red to the rim, cherry nose with earthy elements. Deep cherry fruit carries through on the palate with an herbal/medicinal note. A well-balanced wine with a consistent tone through the finish. Overall rank #4, scores ranged from 11-19; big variation of opinion on this wine.
2012 Cameron Pinot Noir Abbey Ridge Vineyard: Red with brownish tinge at the rim. Big nose of raspberry, molasses and vanilla oak. Candied cherries, licorice and baking spices on the palate. Great balance on the finish. Rank #2, scores ranged from 13-19. Many thought this was the Pinot Noir wine in the tasting.
2014 Voskevaz Karasi Collection Areni: Deep Red with slight browning at the rim. Cherry cola nose with sweet oak elements. Ripe plums follow on the palate as the scent of flowers and earthy notes emerge. Good tannic structure, great balance overall. Long finish that calls you back for another taste. Rank #1, scores range from 15-20. The clear favorite of the night and a pure expression of the Areni grape. It will likely age beautifully but is delicious now.
2014 Yacoubian-Hobbes Areni Sarpina: Bright red to the rim. Nose needs some time, cherry and cranberry notes emerge. Pomegranate fruit on the palate with well-integrated vanilla oak. Tannins emerge on the finish – this wine gives the impression that additional complexity will develop with more time in the bottle. Rank #3, scores range from 12-18. Similar to the Zorah, another wine where the tasters had diverse views.
Overall the Areni wines showed very well – certainly enough to justify making Areni the face of Armenian wine for now. This tasting demonstrated that the best examples of Areni are not powerhouse wines, they fall along the Pinot Noir spectrum in terms of weight, but can be flavorful and complex. A judicious level of oak needs to be applied to avoid overwhelming the fruit. Cherry seems to be the predominant fruit flavor with cranberry/pomegranate tones as well.
Our tasters hard at work!
EVN Wine Academy is playing a major role in advancing the growth of Armenian wine. And their graduates – some of whom participated in tonight’s wine tasting – are starting to make an impact on the Armenian wine industry. Tonight’s group was bright, serious about the task at hand, articulate and a lot of fun to work with. Click here for more on EVN.
Tasting Panel from left to right: Nairi Grigoryan (Wine in Armenia on Facebook), Mikayel Mikayelyan (EVN), Derek (Krush!), Tamara Ohanjanyan (Wine Talks on Facebook), Syuzanna Mkrtchyan Vine & Wine Foundation), Silva Atoyan (EVN), Mikayel Hovannisyan (Vine & Wine Foundation), Sylvia (Krush!), Mariam Saghatelyan (InVino Yerevan), Aramayis Mkrtchyan (Vine & Wine Foundation)