I had the pleasure to attend a wine tasting featuring wines from Armenia. The event was to raise money in the celebration of the Seventieth Anniversary of The Michigan Home for the Armenian Aged and it was held the Banquet and Conference Center at St. John Armenian Church. There are four Armenian churches in the metropolitan Detroit area to handle most of the Armenians that have settled here after the years of genocide and forced displacements. Armenia may be a small country, but they are a proud nation, after all, it was Armenia where Noah’s Ark landed at Mount Ararat. They are the first nation to become Christian in the annals of mankind and they have suffered ever since, because they are the only Christian country surrounded by people that believe it is proper to kill men, women and children that are of a different religion, and they all feel that enslaving people is just. In spite of a long history of determination and strife, they are considered one of the first, if not first people to make wine, some of the adjoining countries try to make that claim, but if your religion does not allow drinking, how much wine can be made and enjoyed? My Favorite Daughter a little while ago, found the perfect gift for me, bottle of Zorah Karasi 2012 from Rind in Armenia. Karasi means “from amphora” the way that beverages were stored and aged centuries ago in large clay vessels (amphorae). Zorah Karasi and their first wine was a tribute to 6,100-year wine tradition 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. The other more interesting find was in the excavations of 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 Yeghegnadzor region and continue the tradition of the earlier vintners of antiquity.
Now as I leave my soap box and go back to discussing the wine tasting. It was an Armenian affair and it was a fun event. There was live music to keep everyone festive and it gave me a chance to actually see some of my Social Media friends. The food was from an outside caterer for the event and there were tables arranged around the room with different Armenian delicacies. There was a Vegetarian table, there was a Cheese and Charcuterie table, there was a table of appetizers, a table of assorted entrée dishes and of course a Sweet Table with coffee. By happen-chance, I ended up seated almost adjacent to the table with the Entrée selections, and it takes a lot of will power, not to just keep taking a plate and loading it up with stacks of lamb chops, and of course there were no doggie bags in sight.
From the original brochure that we received by post, I thought that there was going to be one winemaker featured, of course, it is not the first time that I had been wrong and it won’t be the last either. There were eight winemakers featured and Zorah was not one of them. There were sixteen wines being featured. My only complaint was that there was not a formalized wine tasting, there were several tables intermingled between the food tables featuring two to four different wines. Alas in this setting, it was easy to miss a wine, as you forgot which table you had finished and which table was not finished. I also realized too late that I could have done the tasting in a more logical (wine approved) sequence. Fear not, as The Wine Raconteur maintained his eccentric behavior in front of his relatives (there were a few), friends (there were a few) and strangers (there were plenty of new people to meet) as I was arranging a glass of wine and a bottle wine for a photograph. We were given a wine glass for tasting, but somehow I acquired several and my seat at a dinner table kind of had a wine tasting appearance to it, because I was writing the name of the wine on a napkin and then placing a glass of the wine on the napkin, so that I could go back and forth, between water and crackers to taste the wines several times.
I will start off with two wines, where the winemaker is only represented once at the tasting. I will start with sparkling wine, as that is usually the first wine that one that I usually encounter at a tasting. I will discuss Karas Wines Dyuitich Ararat Valley NV; the Armenian diaspora took the Eurnekian family to Argentina and wine making in the Patagonia region. They have four-hundred hectares devoted to vineyards in Armavir on volcanic soil. The wine is pure Muscat and hand harvested and pressed and after a twenty-four period of fermentation, the fermentation is stopped by cold refrigeration and then the juice is placed in special pressure tanks for thirty days. The color was golden with bubbles, but not a steady stream, and the nose belied how sweet this wine was. It was not my preferred glass of bubbly, but I could see a market for it. Since I started with the first, I will finish with the last, not in wine tasting procedure, but last for after dinner, a dessert wine. The 365 Wines Pomegranate NV was a natural fruit wine from the Edvag Group located in Yerevan, the capital of Armenia. 365 Wines produce a couple of more different natural fruit wines and they also produce a couple of wines made from grapes. When I got my first bottle of Armenian wine, I was doing some research and discovered that beyond the local varietals that are Armenian, Pomegranate wine is very popular among the populace. I saw and heard some grimacing and complaints about this wine, but I think the individuals were thinking that it was a grape wine, but it was lighter and the nose did not remind me of fresh pomegranates either. The color alone should have been an indication, because it was kind of a rusty brown to my eye and not the color I would have expected, as I know that Pomegranate Juice is what is used to dye Maraschino Cherries. Actually, as a dessert wine it was not that bad, as it was not as sweet as the sparkling wine from Karas. There are more wines to be discussed from the tasting.