As we were still wondering around the Las Vegas Food & Wine Festival at Tivoli Village, we were still grazing on all the food that was being offered. There was a private catering company that we fell in love with their offering, as I think we must have stopped there several times that evening. They were serving Braised Short Ribs, and just before serving, they were flash frying the meat to give it a bit of crunchiness; it was totally addicting for both of us. One of the wine booths that we had stopped by earlier, the lead vendor remembered me as a wine guy and he thought he would stump me, by showing me a wine. I surprised him, with a photo of the same wine that I had, just a couple of weeks earlier, that I haven’t wrote about, until I could find out if it was going to be available in Detroit.
The wine was a bottle of Voskevaz Winery Karasi Collection Vielle Vignes Haghtanak Aragatsotn, Armenia 2016 from Storica Wines. Voskevaz Winery was established in 1932, but it really transformed when David Hovhannisyan purchased the winery in 1997. Voskevaz in Armenian means “golden bunch” and grapes have had a long history for Armenia and with the church, with the Annual Blessing of the Grapes. Aragatsotn is located in the Ararat Valley, adjacent to Mount Ararat where Noah’s Ark landed, but you will need an older map, because the mountain is no longer in Armenia (the valley is) and the Mountain has been renamed. The land is about 1,000m above sea level and the soil is clay and stone. During the Soviet Era, the winery made Brandy. The Karasi Collection focuses on wines made in the historic winemaking tradition of the region, using large Karas (clay amphorae), the oldest karases were found in a cave in Areni over 6,100 years ago, at the oldest winery to date. Haghtanak is an ancient indigenous grape to Armenia and the vines used are 60-80 years of age, and the ungrafted vines are estimated to be about 130 years of age. The grapes are hand-harvested and the juice is fermented in karases and then the wine is then aged in Armenian Oak barrels for eighteen months and is bottled unfiltered. The deep ruby-red wine offers notes of plums, blackberry, cedar and vanilla. On the palate tones of blackberry, smoke, cedar and spice in a big chewy wine with a nice medium count finish of fruit. With the use of the karases, only three hundred cases of the wine are being produced each year. A wonderful wine for lamb, both grilled or roasted, or beef if you don’t want to go full tilt Armenian.
The vendor than produced a second wine that he had on reserve in chests away from prying eyes was Daniele Conterno “Panarole” Barolo DOCG 2017. Daniele Conterno is the fourth generation to work his family’s estate, which began with eighteen hectares in the heart of the Langhe region. While he considers himself a traditionalist, he is modern enough to become certified organic. Barolo is so respected and revered in Italy, that it immediately received a DOCG designation in 1980. This is a single vineyard wine from the Panarole Cru and is a blend of two clones Nebbiolo Michet and Nebbiolo Lampia. The wine starts with a maceration and fermentation period in wood vat for thirty days, and then ages for thirty months in large Slavonian Oak casks. A deep ruby-red wine that offered notes of black cherry, plums, hazelnuts and menthol. On the palate tones of rich black cherry and plums with secondary flavors of tobacco and truffles with sweet tannins and nice longer finish of terroir. It was drinking perfectly now or if you have patience, I am sure that more secondary and tertiary tones will evolve in five to ten years.