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Virtual Wine Tasting: Voskevaz, Van Ardi and Old Bridge wines

I signed up to participate in a virtual tasting of Armenian wines organised by Gastroband London and GinVino for 23rd April 2021.

I found out about it through the social media channels of GinVino. Zara Zeropyan is the founder and owner of GinVino. For a number of years, I have purchased some wonderful Armenian wines from her. When signing up for the tasting, there was a choice of wines to purchase and taste: Van Ardi Kangun 2019, Rosé Voskevaz 2017, Old Bridge Areni Noir 2014, and Voskevaz Nuraz 2017. I chose the box which had all of them except the Voskevaz Nuraz 2017 as at the time of purchase, I thought I had this wine in my collection at home. It turned out that I only had the 2014 and not the 2017.


Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend the live tasting session; however, Elena at Gastroband London very kindly sent me a recording of the event. As there were three wines to taste and the weather was holding up, I invited over my neighbours to sit in the garden and do the virtual tasting with me. Zara gave us lots of information not only about the wines and their producers but also about Armenia and its winemaking history and traditions. If you get a chance to do a tasting with her, do it!


The Wines


2018, Van Ardi Kangun


Producer

VanArdi is a family-run boutique winery. Its founder and winemaker is Varoujan Mouradian. Varoujan was a CPA in Glendale, California, but in 2008 he and his family moved to Armenia after purchasing land. Click here to see a short interview with Ani Mouradian, the daughter of Varoujan, talking about the family’s winemaking journey. If you understand Armenian or can get a friend to translate, I highly recommend watching this interview of Varoujan Mouradian – click here. It is inspiring and moving to hear Varoujan talk about his journey and his vision for future generations.


Vineyard

The estate is located 40 minutes north of Yerevan, in Ashtarak. The vineyards are at 1,050 metres above sea level. With volcanic and rocky soil, the estate grows Armenian red and white grape varieties and a small plot of Syrah brought from California by Varoujan. The Reserves are aged in a blend of French and Karabagh barrels.

2018, Van Ardi Kangun

Type: White

Grapes: Kangun 100%

Alcohol: 14%

Region: Ashtarak


This wine is made with Kangun. The wine is fermented in steel tanks and bottled without any time in oak. In the glass, it is a pale straw colour. On the nose, it has aromas of honey, green apple, and tropical fruit. In the mouth, it has notes of quince, citrus, banana, and cream. It is dry with a good balance of acidity.


A participant at the virtual tasting was surprised that the wine had maintained its structure, considering it is a three-year-old white wine. Zara explained that Kangun means “standing strong,” and it was the grape variety giving the wine structure. Zara also informed us that this wine’s ageing ability allows her to keep bottles and release them later.


Food Pairing

This would go well with seafood and light starters. I think it would really pair well with vegetarian sushi.


Verdict

This is a dry, elegant wine with intense flavours. I would like to keep a bottle and try it next year to see how it develops.


2017, Voskevaz Rosé


Producer

The Voskevaz winery was created in 1932 during Soviet times and produced fortified wines. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, various enterprises were being privatised, and the winery was purchased by David Hovhannisyan, an investor from Russia, along with his brothers. They have since been running the winery and gaining international awards.


Vineyards

The winery is located in the Aragatsotn region of Armenia in the village of Voskevaz, which in Armenian means "golden bunch." The winery is at the foothills of Mount Aragats, which is the highest mountain in Armenia with an elevation of 4,090 metres above sea level. It produces wines using modern wine-making technology and traditional old karases that were made in the 19th century.


2017, Areni Noir Rosé

Type: Rosé

Grapes: Areni 100%

Alcohol: 13.5%

Region: Ashtarak


This wine is made from the red grape Areni Noir. It is matured in stainless steel tanks. Zara informed us that from a business perspective when a producer decides to make a Rosé, they are foregoing making a red wine which could be sold at a higher price. So producers making Rosé, such as Voskevaz, are passionate about making good quality Rosé. In the glass, it is a salmon colour. On the nose, there are strawberries, cranberries, and hints of melon. In the mouth, the berry flavours continue, and there are mineral notes in the background. The acidity is robust but not overpowering.


Food Pairing

This would be drunk as an aperitif or with white fish or chicken.


Verdict

If you like dry Rosé, this wine is worth trying. Their feedback for this wine was very positive from the participants of the virtual tasting. I don’t normally drink Rosé, but this wine has stimulated my interest in Armenian Rosés.


2014, Old Bridge Areni Noir


Producer

The owner is Armen Khalatyan, and it is a family-run venture founded in 1998. Their aim is about quality rather than quantity and only release their signature Areni reserves. The name “Old Bridge” is after the Stone Bridge, a 13th Century Bridge in the Vayots Zor Valley. Legend has it that Marco Polo travelled through this valley. Click here to see this short video where we get to see the winery at work and appreciate the involvement of the family and the local community in the production of the wine.


Vineyard

The vineyards are located on the right-hand bank of the Arpa River, next to the little village of Arpi at an altitude of 1250-1300 metres above sea level. The vineyard soil is rocky and sandy. Harvesting is done manually, as is destemming. They use steel containers for fermentation, and the wine is aged in Armenian barrels for 24 months with four years of bottle ageing before release.

2014, Old Bridge Areni Noir

Type: Red

Grapes: Areni 100%

Alcohol: 13.5%

Region: Ashtarak


I have been wanting to try this wine for a long time, and it was definitely worth the wait. In the glass, it has a beautiful dark red colour. On the nose, it is earthy with aromas of wildflowers and cherry. In the mouth, there is dark cherry, cranberry, leather, and tobacco. It is well balanced with high acidity and silky smooth tannins.


Food Pairing

This wine would be great with steak or a barbeque. Not surprisingly, this wine disappeared very quickly during our tasting.

Verdict

This is a great wine. I think it has potential for ageing. I will definitely be buying another bottle to try in a couple of years. I predict it will be quite something to drink.


Have you tried any of these wines? If you have, get in touch and let me know what you thought of them.

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