Easter is considered to be the Holiest Day for most sects of Christianity. As an Armenian, I can attest from history that ever since they became the first Christian nation, Armenia has been suffering at the hands of other nations that don’t believe in the same faith. The term genocide was coined over the mass murder of Armenians. Why do I bring this up? Ever since I can remember, there has been an Easter dinner with lamb as a central focus of the meal. As the family grew, one of my cousins even created an Easter Eve party, because we had all started having Easter dinners with our own families, as a way to get the cousins together the night before for another lamb dinner. This year, as you probably are aware there is a virus that is allowing petty satraps to take away liberties from the citizens. Here in Michigan through the fiats of the governor, it is verboten to visit a friend, a neighbor or a relative. It is now illegal to go to a nursery to buy flowers for the table or to take to a gravesite. It is illegal to visit your own vacation home, you must continue to pay the taxes for the two homes, but you are stuck in one location. As was written in The Detroit News “She would rather be obeyed than compromise” and in the same article the attorney general has even gone to paying informants if people attempt to express their liberty in doing such actions that are subversive to the governor. Which all brings me back to Day 26 of our solitary confinement and my Bride wanted me to have an Armenian dinner, even if only the two of us could enjoy it.
We started off with Lahmajoon, which for non-Armenians, I usually call it an individual size Armenian pizza, but it is beyond that. It should be made with small very thin sheets of dough, that is covered with finely ground lamb, diced onions, diced parsley, diced garlic mixed with a tomato paste and plenty of hot spices, it is then baked and should be immediately eaten. I can remember in the old days, my Grandmother making hundreds of them and they seemed to vanish as soon as she pulled them out of the oven, to make more; now granted this is when everyone sat and milled about in the kitchen while she was cooking. She also made Armenian Pilaf which is a staple in our house, almost for any dish, especially for the big parties and even the non-Armenians are upset when we don’t have it. For the uninitiated, it is browned egg noodles and rice steeped in chicken broth and butter, until all the broth and butter have been absorbed by the rice, and yes, my family has always made this with garlic as well. She made Brussels Sprouts sautéed with Bacon and drizzled with Aged Balsamic for some greens. We also had Lamb Chops, which were marinated in garlic and rosemary, you do see a common denominator here. After we had house-made Chocolate Pudding with Whipped Cream. We called the two families in Las Vegas before dinner, and had a “Face Time” with Ms. Yoga during dinner, and then afterwards we had a “Zoom” sessions with her sisters and Mother and it reminded me of an old television show The Hollywood Squares, but there were twelve squares instead of nine and conversations were continuous.
Which finally brings me to the wine for the evening and we went Armenian as well, and no there was garlic in the terroir. About a half a year ago, I went to a special wine tasting event at one of the Armenian churches in the Detroit area and had a chance to try many different Armenian wines along with some great Armenian food, and the event was a fund raiser. I did not give the wine a glowing review, much to my sadness, but I feel that I must be true, in what I write. I went back and copied what I wrote, to save you the effort “The other wine that I will discuss is the Yacoubian Hobbs Areni Noir Vayots Dzor 2015 that I had actually read about and was glad to see its presence and I was looking forward to trying it. Paul Hobbs of California has been partnered with at least two wineries outside of the United States and here with the Yacoubian family. The partnership began in 2008 and a new vineyard was planted in 2014 near the Areni – 1 Cave, the site of the world’s first commercial winery. The Areni Noir grape is ancient in Armenia, but a fresh newcomer to the international wine community; it is a dark, thick skin grape that is perfectly adapted to the major temperature swings in the high elevation plateau where the grapes grow best. This wine is also from the Vayots Dzor region. The wine was fermented and aged in Stainless Steel and eleven-hundred cases were produced. As I stood in line to get a taste of the wine, the couple in front of me, took one sip, poured the balance of the wine into the spittoon, and immediately rinsed the glass with water, looked at me, and told me not to bother, but I had to try it. They were absolutely right, I could find no redeeming qualities to the wine, and I really would prefer not to say that. The entire wine was off, the nose was non-existent and the wine had nothing worth noting, I could not even find any words to describe what I was tasting.” After all of the wines and reviews I did mention that I felt that the tasting event was not well handled, the wines may have been rushed in, and in perhaps not the best manner. I also mentioned that a lot of the vineyards were young, and there is something to be said about old vines, or so many labels would not mention that fact. I also said that I would not let that one night deter me from trying more wines from Armenia. I was amazed that I was approached by Yacoubian- Hobbs, as I was surprised that they even found my article, let alone would even offer to let me write about their wines again; I feel that reveals the integrity of the winery to look past a poor review and try again. I would say that with ten days of being contacted by Paul Hobbs of California, I was in possession of Yacoubian-Hobbs Areni Rind, Vayots Dzor 2016. Everything I have read about this new wine, is consistent with the 2015 vintage, so I am hoping the extra year for the vines and my cellaring will produce a different review. My Bride even kind of made a face when she saw what wine I was opening up, as I think she was expecting me to open up something more to her liking for the dinner. I allowed the wine to breathe an hour before dinner and I poured two glasses about a half hour before dinner. This wine, was not the same wine that I had at the fund raiser and the short time in the cellar allowed it to mellow, the nose was soft and the taste and finish evoked red fruits and not dark fruits, but still very tasty. In fact, my Bride looked at me and said this wine is really good, and we proceeded to finish the bottle between dinner and “Zoom” time. It would have been better with people, but we obey the laws, with the anticipation that the governor will issue a reprieve.