In general, we have not found the excitement in the Armenian white wines that we’ve found in the reds. For the most part the white wines are well made, but lack the concentration, range of flavors and complexity we find in the best wines made from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Reisling, etc.
Voskehat (the “Golden Grape”) is Armenia’s most widely grown white grape variety. Like Areni, Voskehat is an ancient grape native to Armenia. In Soviet times it mostly used to make sweet wines, but with the advent of the Armenian Wine Renaissance, dry Voskehat wines are being made again. Voskehat is featured in both single varietal wines and as a key part of various white wine blends.
The panel hard at work in EVN’s high tech tasting room.
For this tasting we asked the panel to evaluate 3 Voskehat whites; the ArmAs 2013 Voskehat Reserve, the 2015 Voskevaz Karasi Collection Voskehat and Zorah’s 2015 Voski (a blend of Voskeht and Garan Dmak). All three wines are from top tier wineries and are three of Armenia’s most expensive white wines.
Silva Atoyan evaluates the Voskehat selections
The EVN uses a 20-point scale to evaluate the wines and all participants seemed comfortable with that approach. We then translate their scores into our 100-point scoring system. Based on the average scores of the group, the Zorah was the clear favorite:
First Place (90-92 points) Zorah Voskì 2015: A blend of Voskehat and Garan Dmak. Fermented and aged in concrete tanks; no oak. This wine has a lovely nose of quince fruit with floral accents. On the palate the flavors broadened to include notes of lemon and kiwi. Good acid. Long finish. A very nice, well-balanced wine.
Second Place (87-89 points) Voskevaz Karsai Collection Voskehat 2015: Fermented in large clay amphorea, then aged 4 months in oak. Nice aromas of melon and a hint of vanilla on the nose. Crisp, tart fruit on the palate. Long finish. In general, a very well-made wine that needs a touch more concentration to elevate it to a higher score.
Third Place (86-88 points) ArmAs Voskehat Reserve 2013: Fermented in steel, aged 10 months in a combination of Artzakh and French oak. A beautiful nose of lemony fruit and vanilla. Pineapple and oak on the palate. However, the integrated flavors on the nose are somewhat disjointed on the palate; the oak and the fruit sit side by side and don’t fully complement each other. Some heat on the finish. This wine had the highest variation of scores; some thought the wine over-oaked, others were more comfortable with the combination.
Our non-Armenian wine was the 2015 Alban Viogner. Chosen for its expansive floral and fruit palate of peaches and honeysuckle, the Alban is representative of the excitement that’s lacking from most Armenian white wines. While the Alban is an extreme example, a dash of this level of concentration and complexity would certainly elevate most of Armenian whites we have tasted to date. The panel gave the Alban Viogner scores just below the Zorah Voski.
Many thanks to the EVN Wine Academy for making their excellent facilities available to us and for assembling a great group of tasters to work with. All of our tasters were passionate, articulate and donated their valuable time to make this event a success. For more on EVN Wine Academy, click here.
Tasting Panel (Left to Right): Vahan Voskanyan (Shirakamut LLC), Karan Kazumyan (EVN), Derek (Krush!), Isabelle Ruettiger (EVN), Mary Hovhanisyan (Voskevaz), Sylvia (Krush!), Silva Atoyan (EVN), Zarhui Muradyan (EVN), Samuel Machanyan (Alluria), Vladmir Harutyunyan (Zakarè), Mikayel Mikayelyan (EVN) and Vahe Mkrtchyan (Genatoun)