Tasting Panelist Derek Kruizenga

Derek Kruizenga

Retired Insurance Executive, Managing Editor of The Armenian Wine Newsletter

How did you get interested in wine? I made a great friend in business school who was from California. He went to work in San Francisco after we graduated in 1983. On my first visit to California we went up to the Napa Valley and he introduced me to some eye opening wines that got me hooked. We still get together to share great bottles whenever time allows.

My first love was Bordeaux wines. Just as I was getting interested in wine, the 1982 vintage came out to great acclaim, Robert Parker published his Bordeaux book and the wines were not only excellent, they were affordable as well.

In 1998, we organized our first formal wine tasting group of like-minded individuals which got together quarterly to taste and compare wines from around the world. Through that group and others Sylvia and I have had the opportunity to meet new wine enthusiasts, taste the world’s greatest wines and greatly expand our wine horizons and palates.

What’s in your wine cellar now? While we still have some Bordeaux, my tastes have migrated. Most of my current cellar is made up of Southern Rhone wines, California Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir from Oregon.

What’s your favorite wine? My favorite wines are made from the Grenache grape. To me these can be some of the most expressive, complex wines made. While my first great Grenache wine was the 1981 Chateau Beaucastel, there are great Grenache wines at all price points from France, Spain, Australia and the United States. I love the basic flavor profile of Grenache, yet each vineyard/winemaker seems to be able to put their unique spin on the wine.

Why Armenian wine? Our family is 50% Armenian. When we first visited Armenia in 2012, we fell in love with the people and the country. However, the wine was not very good at that time. Our next visit was in 2015; we stayed longer, drank more and discovered much better wine.

We have seen the explosion of in the amount and quality in the world of wine over the last 20 years: Australia, Spain, Argentina, Oregon State and Washington State to name a few. All these regions now offer an extraordinary selection of fine wine that was not there 20 years ago. Based on what we saw in 2015, we could tell that great things were happening in Armenia’s wine sector and the Krush! is our way of fueling that fire.