I have discussed Armenian wines periodically, and they have arrived at my local wine shop, The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan. On one of my stops in the shop, they showed me some wines that were dropped off for them by a representative of Storica Wines. They had tasted them the day before and they wanted to get my opinion of the wines as well. Storica Wines is an Armenian wine import company in the United States of America. The wines that they are representing are examples of indigenous grapes grown 6,000 years ago and some are near where the oldest established winery has been unearthed. They are on a mission to give the oldest Christian nation more positive exposure.
The first two wines that I will discuss is from Zulal and Zulal means “pure” in Armenian. Zulal wines are examples of high elevation viticulture, extreme climates and volcanic soil; all three are known to help shape wines. Zulal wines were founded by Aimee Keushguerian in 2017, and introduced the Zulal Areni Reserve 2015 and Zulal Voskehat 2017. The two grape varieties Areni and Voskehat are sourced from about forty grape growers in the villages of Aghavnadzor and Rind, and the Arpa Valley in the Vayots Dzor region. They are already working on introducing other varieties that are even lesser-known outside of Armenia. They currently make about ten-thousand cases of wine. The Zulal Voskehat 2020 is from the village of Aghavnadzor in Vayots Dzor, grown at an elevation of 1400 meters on a soil of limestone and volcanic rock. The vines are from fifty to over a hundred years of age, and this grape was grown for wine in Armenia, and then after the Soviets took over, this grape was used for “Sherry” during the Soviet years. The juice is macerated, fermented and aged in Stainless Steel to ensure the freshness of the fruit. A pale straw-colored wine with notes of stone fruits. On the palate tones of peaches and apricots and a touch of marzipan, good acidity and a finish of fruit and some terroir. The Zulal Areni Reserve 2018 is from the village Aghsafi in the Arpa Valley of Vayots Dzor at an elevation of 1200 meters on alluvial rock soil. These vines are from fifty to a hundred years of age, and the grapes went from making wine to producing Brandy for the Soviets. The darker berries were selected for the Reserve wine and aged for twelve months in neutral Armenian Oak barrels. A nice deep red wine with notes of bramble fruit and herbs. On the palate blueberry and herbs, with a nice earthiness and a finish of terroir.
The other two wines that they are starting with are from Van Ardi Wines. Van Ardi translates as “Sun of Van,” a reference to the ancient capital of Armenian where Varuzhan Mouradian’s ancestors are from. Varuzhan moved to Armenia in 2008 to become a winemaker, after living in America. A boutique winery based near Ashtarak and had achieved Organ Certification through Ecoglobe. The Van Ardi Reserve 2018 is from the village of Sasunik, in the region of Aragatsotn, and it is pure Areni and grown at an elevation of 1050 meters. The vines are twelve years of age, on soil that is a mix of limestone, volcanic rock and silt, and the wine is aged in neutral Armenian Oak barrels. The deep red wine offered notes of red fruits and bramble. On the palate, there were tones of red berries in a balance wine with a moderate finish. The Van Ardi Estate Blend 2019 also came from Sasunik in Aragatsotn, and is a blend of Areni, Haghtanak and Milagh. The varieties were tank fermented, then aged for six months in French and Caucasian two-year-old barrels. The varieties were vinified separately, blended for three months and then rested for four months in bottle, before being released. This deep red wine offered notes of dark and red fruits and spices. On the palate dark fruits, mellow tannins and a nice medium length finish of fruit and terroir. Of the two wines, I enjoyed this wine much more, as I found it fuller bodied.