Armenian wine and food interrupt my memories of wine in Las Vegas for a day, but it ties in, in a way, since the wine was a gift from “My Favorite Daughter” who lives in Las Vegas. There are a couple of St. Valentines that are listed in the lore of this canonical holiday and it now has become an exploited commercial day. As a kid in elementary school, I remember giving out little cards to the other kids, and one hoped that one was going to take home a similar number of cards at the day’s end. The day is for romance, but alas, it is one of those days that I try to avoid the restaurants, not that I don’t want to have dinner with my Bride, but the restaurants are over-booked, a lot of them use an abbreviated menu and the worst part is that the service is usually under-par, because the wait staff is over-burdened with diners that only eat out on these designated holidays.
The Sword of Damocles was dangling over me and what to do? I decided to make a dinner while my Bride was at work. I am by no means a chef, while I love to indulge in fine dining, the Heavens know that I cannot reproduce splendid dinners, even with our library having cook books by Thomas Keller and Daniel Boulud. I decided to make “Potato Boereg” an Armenian dish, similar to what is known as “Shepherd’s Pie.” The Armenian version is just spicier with the lamb seasoned with garlic, allspice, peppers and onions. The old country recipes don’t have time suggestions, just wait until the egg wash is a nice golden brown. The dish is not really intricate, just time consuming to prepare, so I was off to the races.
I thought of the perfect wine for the evening, as it was a gift as I said from “My Favorite Daughter” who we had just seen in our last trip to Las Vegas. The bottle of wine is Zorah Karasi Areni Noir 2012. Karasi means “from amphora” the vessels that were used way back in the day for wine storage. Zorah Karasi and their first wine was a tribute to a sixty-one-hundred-year tradition of wine making in Armenia. During excavations of “Karmir Blur” or “Red Hill” near the capital city of Yerevan in Armenia, four hundred ancient wine barrels were found. Around the same time excavations in Areni 1 cave in the Yeghegnadzor region they found the world’s oldest winery and the first historical evidence of wine making on an industrial scale. The vineyards of Zorah in the small village of Rind are in the heart of the Yeghegnadzor region and continue the tradition of the earlier vintners of antiquity. Zorah Karasi is made from the Areni Noir grape, which is indigenous to Armenia and of course later on in Turkey. It is its own grape dating perhaps back to the time of Noah, when his famed Ark landed on Mount Ararat in Armenia. I guess it is only fitting that this Armenian grape is just as singular as the Armenian language and alphabet are as well. Bloomberg listed this wine as one of the “Top Ten Wines of 2012,” quite impressive for a new winery. The wine was earthy with a detectable amount of heat to the taste and it really worked well with the hot spices of the dish. “My Favorite Daughter” did a great job in getting this particular wine.