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Complete Basic Armenian Wine Guide

Updated: Sep 4, 2018

Did you know that Armenia produces more and better wines every year? Finding a nice, even excellent, wine here is pretty easy now.


Many Armenians still prefer to drink pomegranate wine, or semi-sweet white wine, and many others don't drink wine at all - the national average is only 1.2 liters per person per year. Still, the wine industry is developing rapidly and producing more wines to international standards.


At In Vino – Yerevan’s most elaborate wine shop – I was told that a few years ago they had only a single shelf of “drinkable wine” and now they sell 85 different brands.


What follows is an overview of good wines in Armenia. Of course “good” is subjective. I’m not a wine connoisseur. Because of the Foreign Service, I was just lucky to live in regions where wine is big, like the southern cone (Uruguay, Argentina, Chile), Northwest Europe (France, Germany) and my husband is from the Northwest (Oregon, Washington, California).


I like that the Armenian wine market is relatively small, so I can actually get a bit of a handle on it. In this post I only mention dry white, rose, red, and reserve wines because I’m not a big fan of the rest.


BASIC FACTS


How many wineries are there in Armenia? I have no idea what the total number is, but like I said at In Vino they think there are 85 wines worthy of their shop. In this overview I mention 71 of them – I might add more in the future.


Which grapes are used? There are many Armenian grape varieties, like (for red and rose): Areni, Haghtanak, Khndoghni, and Karmrahyut and (for white) Voskehat, Kangun, and Garandmak. Some international grapes are used for blending.


Areni wines typically have fresh acidity and soft tannins; Khndoghni wine is higher in tannins and tastes more like dark fruits and earth. Voskehat makes most of the best white wines with floral, tropical, and stone fruit notes.


What is the price range of Armenian wines? Most good wines are in the $6-20 range, while good reserves are typically in the $20-30 range.


Where is the wine produced? Wine is produced all over Armenia but mainly in Aragatsotn province (one hour north of Yerevan), Vayots Dzor province (two hours south of Yerevan), and Artsakh Republic (Nagorno-Karabakh).


Where to buy? Wine bars/shops in Yerevan with good selections for sale are In Vino, Wine Republic and Enoteca. Big supermarkets (SAS, Yerevan City, Tsiran, Parma, Carrefour) sell labels like Armas, Yerevan Wine, Hin Areni, Karas, Takar, Tariri, Van Ardi, Voskevaz and Zorah Karasí.


THE BIG WINES


Yerevan

Armenia Winery was founded in 2008 and also produces Takar and Tariri. The company is by far the largest wine producer and exporter of Armenian wines.

WHITE: Vintage: 2016. Grape: Kangun, Rkatsiteli. Price: $6

ROSE: Vintage: 2016. Grape: Areni. Price: $6

RED: Vintage: 2015. Grape: Areni, Karmrahyut. Price: $6

SPARKLING WHITE: Vintage: 2016. Grape: Kangun, Rkatsiteli. Price: $6


Takar

WHITE: oak-aged. Vintage: 2016. Grape: Kangun. Price: $6-8

ROSE: steel-aged. Vintage: 2017. Grape: Areni. Price: $9

RED: oak-aged. Vintage: 2016. Grape: Areni. Price: $9

RED Reserve: oak-aged. Vintage: 2014. Grape: Areni, Saperavi. Price: $19

SPARKLING: Vintage: 201. Grape: Kangun. Price: $9




Tariri

WHITE: oak-aged. Vintage: 2016. Grape: Kangun, Aligoté, Chenin. Price: $15

RED: oak-aged Vintage: 2016. Grape: Areni, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot. Price: $26









Armas

Golden Grape Armas was founded in 2007 and is an expat favorite because of their brilliant marketing strategy. They have an awesome CEO (see her feminist TedTalk here). Visiting the winery is wonderful; book in advance but they have a restaurant. My favorite wine is their dark-colored rose, and I heard good things about their red reserves. Total production is around 1,500,000 liters per year.


WHITE: Vintage: 2015. Grape: Kangun, Rkatsiteli. Price: $8

WHITE: Vintage: 2016. Grape: Voskehat. Price: $16


ROSE: Vintage: 2015. Grape: Karmrahyut. Price: $12

RED: oak-aged. Vintage: 2014. Grape: Areni. Price: $16

RED: Vintage: 2015. Grape: Karmrahyut. Price: $12

RED Reserve: oak-aged. Vintage: 2012. Grape: Areni. Price: $25

RED Reserve: oak-aged. Vintage: 2013. Grape: Karmrahyut. Price: $25


Karas

Tierras de Armenia Vineyards was founded in 2003 and started producing wine in 2010. Karas is the go-to wine for many expats I know. Their blends change every year so the wines are always different, and often include European grape varieties. Total production is around 1,300,000 bottles per year.


WHITE: Vintage: 2016. Grape: Kangun, Chardonnay, Viognier. Price: $6-8

RED: Vintage: 2016. Grape: Syrah, Tannat, Cot, Cabernet Franc. Price: $9-10

SPARKLING: Vintage: 2017. Grape: Kangun, Colombard, Folle Blanche. Price: $9


Voskevaz

Voskevaz Wine Cellar was founded in 1932 and is one of Armenia’s oldest wineries. Yet they work with modern techniques and bring in talent from abroad - one of the winemakers I met was French. Voskevaz wines are easy to love, and wonderful to drink at their Yerevan restaurant WineTime. Total production is around 300,000 bottles per year.


WHITE: Urzana. Steel-aged. Vintage: 2016. Grape: Muskat Vardabuyr. Price: $8-9

WHITE: Voskepar. Oak-aged. Vintage: 2015. Grape: Voskehat. Price: $ X

ROSE: Vintage: 2017. Grape: Areni. Price: $7-10

RED: Nuraz. Oak-aged. Vintage: 2014. Grape: Nuraz. Price: $9

RED: Areni. Steel-aged. Vintage: 2013. Grape: Areni. Price: $8

RED: Vanakan. oak-aged. Grape: Haghtanak, Kakhet, Areni. Price: $32

RED: Voskevaz Haghtanak Karasi. oak-aged. Vintage: 2015. Grape: Haghtanak. Price: $35


Koor

Highland Cellars opened in 2014. The first time I drank Koor was in a restaurant where Koor was the only wine they served. It turned out good though, so I often keep some in the house because it’s a wonderful, balanced, all-purpose wine. Total production is around 100,000 bottles per year on 21 hectares in Vayots Dzor province.


WHITE: Vintage: 2016. Grape: Voskehat. Price: $11

RED: steel-aged. Vintage: 2015/6. Grape: Areni, Sireni. Price: $10

RED Reserve: oak-aged. Vintage: 2014. Grape: Areni, Sireni. Price: $26-29


Zorah Karasí

Zorah opened in 2001. I’m usually happy to drink wines in the 10-dollar range because there are plenty of good wines that fall into that category. However, when I finally decided to move my price range up I was blown away Zorah Karasí; I have not tried their other brands Jazz and Yeraz. They have 40 hectares in Vayots Dzor province.


WHITE: concrete-aged. Vintage: 2016. Grape: Voskehat, Garandmak. Price: $40

RED: concrete-aged. Vintage: 2015. Grape: Areni. Price: $33


HIN ARENI

Hin Areni was founded in 2007. Designed by an Argentinian wine expert, the winery in Areni can be visited without appointment in a modern tasting room. They have 32 hectares of vineyards and produce about 150,000 bottles per year.


WHITE: Vintage: 2013. Grape: Voskehat. Price: $9

ROSE: Vintage: 2016. Grape: Areni. Price: $10

RED: oak-aged. Vintage: 2015. Grape: Areni. Price: $18


ARIATS

Gevorkian Wine was founded in 2006 in Yerevan. It also produces the 365 label, which are fruit wines, and the Mi Tas label, which makes dry, semi-sweet and fruit lines. Grapes grow in

Vayots Dzor province and Ararat valley.


WHITE: Vintage: 2014. Grape: Voskehat. Price: $7

RED: Ripasso. oak-aged. Vintage: 2014. Grape: Areni, Haghtanak, Kakhet, Karmrahyut. Price: $10

RED Reserve: Ripasso. oak-aged. Vintage: 2014. Grape: Areni, Haghtanak, Kakhet, Karmrahyut. Price: $16

RED Reserve: Amarone. oak-aged. Vintage: 2012. Grape: Areni, Haghtanak, Kakhet, Karmrahyut. Price: $28


THE BOUTIQUE WINES


Voskeni

Voskeni was founded in the 1920s and bought back to life by the Matteossian family in 2008. The winery offers organized tours, tastings, and picnic lunches. Total production is around 50,000 bottles on 22 hectares in Ararat valley in Armavir.


WHITE: Vintage: 2014. Grape: Voskehat, Garan dmak, Khatun, Qrditchakat. Price: $

WHITE: Vintage: 2015. Grape: Voskehat, Garan dmak. Price: $

RED: Vintage: 2014. Grape: Areni, Khndogni, Kakhet. Price: $9

RED: Vintage: 2015. Grape: Areni, Khndoghni. Price: $

RED Reserve: oak-aged. Vintage: 2014. Grape: Areni Noir. Price: $


Kataro

Kataro Winery opened in 2010. This is the first wine I drank that’s produced in Nagorno-Karabakh. It’s aged on steel and on the famous Karabakh oak. I loved it right away – so smooth and rich in flavor. Total production is around 60,000 bottles on 10 hectares in Hadruth.


ROSE: Vintage: 2016. Grape: Sireni. Price: $10

RED: Vintage: 2016. Grape: Sireni. Price: $12-13

RED Reserve: Vintage: 2015. Grape: Sireni. Price: $21


Van Ardi

Van Ardi was founded in 2008 by a Californian family and started producing wines in 2013. It has a brand-new visitor center set to open in 2018. The winery has nine hectares of land in the Ararat valley growing five grape varieties. Total production is around 50,000 bottles per year.


WHITE: Vintage: 2016. Grape: Kangun. Price: $7-8

WHITE: Vintage: 2017. Grape: Mskhali. Price: $8

ROSE: Vintage: 2017. Grape: Syrah, Kakhet. Price: $7-9

RED: Vintage: 2016. Grape: Areni, Kakhet, Haghtanak. Price: $8-10

RED Reserve: oak-aged. Vintage: 2015. Grape: Syrah, Kakhet. Price: $18-19


TRINITY

Trinity opened in 2009 and produces under the labels Trinity and 6100. According to one winemaker in Areni, the pope visited the vineyard recently and said that he drinks a glass of this every morning (I don’t believe much of this story, but I like the idea of it). Grapes grow on

4,5 hectares in Vayots Dzor province.


WHITE: Trinity. lies-aged. Vintage: 2016. Grape: Voskehat. Price: $17

RED: Caucasian oak-aged. Vintage: 2016. Grape: Areni Noir. Price: $22


6100

WHITE: lies-aged. Vintage: 2016. Grape: Khatun Kharji. Price: $X

ROSE: lies-aged. Vintage: 2016. Grape: Areni Noir. Price: $12

RED: Caucasian oak-aged. Vintage: 2016. Grape: Areni Noir. Price: $


Keush

Keush started as a Semina Consulting project. The sparkling wines are made by Vahe Keushgerian and Armen Manukian at high altitudes – around 1800 meters above sea level. The main goal of the project is to save and develop Armenian indigenous grape varieties. The goal is to produce 100,000 bottles in Vayots Dzor province.


Sparkling WHITE: lies-aged. Vintage: 2015. Grape: Voskehat, Khatouni. Price: $23

Sparkling ROSE: Vintage: 2017. Grape: Areni. Price: $25


Kouash

Manukyan Family Winery created Kouash in 2014. Grapes from Vayots Dzor province.


WHITE: oak-aged. Vintage: 2016. Grape: X Price: $7-8

RED: oak-aged. Vintage: 2016. Grape: Areni. Price: $6-7





Old Bridge

Old Bridge is a tiny “wine factory” – as wineries like to call themselves in Armenia – makes an excellent red wine. They take a few years to come to life though, but the 2013 vintage is brilliant right now. Visits can be arranged, although there isn’t really a tasting room – it’s run out of a nice but very basic bed & breakfast. Grapes from 4 hectares in Vayots Dzor province.

RED: Oak-aged. Vintage: 2013. Grape: Areni Noir. Price: $21-23

RED: Oakaged. Vintage: 2014. Grape: Areni Noir. Price: $16-18


QOTOT

Qotot was founded in 2014 by a French winemaker. Grapes from Vayots Dzor province.


WHITE: Vintage: 2015. Grape: Voskehat. Price: $12

ROSE: Vintage: 2016. Grape: Areni. Price: $12

RED: steel-aged. Vintage: 2014. Grape: Areni. Price: $12



TUSHPA

Tuspha Wine Cellar opened in 1992 but actually stopped producing wines for a while because they didn’t think the Armenian wine market was going anywhere! Grapes from Ararat Valley.


RED: Vintage: 2015. Grape: Haghtanak. Price: $12





Zabel

Zabel Wine started in 2005 and started as a Semina Consulting project by a political scientist turned winemaker. I was pleased to hear that the founding idea that “diplomacy happens between protocol and alcohol.” Grapes from Vayots Dzor province and Artsakh.


WHITE: Vintage: 2015. Grape: Chilar. Price: $22

WHITE: Vintage: 2014. Grape: Garandmak. Price: $22

RED: Vintage: 2013. Grape: Pinot Noir. Price: $22


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