Armenian endemic grape varieties
“And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat. And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons’ wives with him: every beast, every creeping thing went forth out the ark…
And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard…”
Armenia is a remarkable country with ideal climatic conditions for endemic grape varieties cultivation. Grapes grown in Ararat valley, in the slopes of biblical Mount Ararat, have high level of sweetness. This is why they are mostly used in fortified and dessert wine production.
In the vastness of fertile vineyards you will find old vines (some are 100-year-old vines), which are the reflection of exceptional Armenian terroir. The fact that the vines have such “solid” age is not surprising, as Armenia is one of a few countries in the world (Chilli, Argentina) that avoided phylloxera epidemic (phylloxera is an insect to Phylloxeridae family) in the late 19th century.
There are numerous endemic grape varieties in Armenia. Areni Noir, Kakhet, Haghtanak and Karmrahyut grape varieties are used in local red wine production. In elegant white wine production are used Kangun, Voskehat, Muscat Vardabuyr, Garan Dmak, Chilar varieties.
Today we observe new trend of indigenous grape varieties appreciation. The culture of wine consuming is changing, as the true connoisseurs start to pay more attention to local grape varieties. The grapes, which are cultivated in certain area and are unknown abroad, give new, exclusive shades to the wines. Endemic grapes impart the wine exceptional tones in aroma and taste, create potential for unusual pairings both with national and international dishes.
In Armenian “kakhet” means “suspended”. The name “kakhet” creates misconceptions about the origin of the grape variety. In reality Armenian endemic Kakhet grape variety has nothing in common with Georgian Kakheti region.
This is a high-yielding grape with middle-sized, orbicular leaves. Clusters are not very large, sometimes cylindrical. This is a medium-sized, oval berry with dark blue, black shades, if harvested when matured. The rough skin of the grape easily separates from the plump and has a visible wax layer. This grape variety has juicy plump and colorless, sweet juice. Kakhet is a grape with a late maturation period. In case of Kakhet the harvest season comes much earlier than that of the other Armenian grape varieties.
Kakhet is similar to Grenache grape variety, which is very widespread in Spain. This Armenian grape variety produces wines with poorly defined color. The wine is with hints of flowers and wild berries. During the ageing in oak barrels, fragrances evoke intense tones of creams.
“Kangun” in Armenian means “firm”. This is a grape with a late maturation period, which is resistant to various pests and rot. The flower is androgynous. The cluster is large and thick. Kangun has a middle size, orbicular leaf. This is a medium-sized, oval berry with yellowish-green and brown shades. Kangun possesses medium frost resistance.
This aromatic grape variety is used for production of extraordinary white wines with hints of white fruits, wild flowers, honey and quince. As Kangun variety posseses significant properties, it is hard to compare it with “international” grape varieties.
Haghtanak (“victory” in Armenian) is a local grape with a late maturation period. The grape has medium size, orbicular leaves. The flower is androgynous. This is a medium-sized, oval black berry. This variety has medium clusters and skin with medium thickness. Haghtanak is a brick-red color grape variety, which is comparably resistant to fungus diseases and pests.
According to our observations the properties of this Armenian grape variety are similar to the properties of French Cabernet Sauvignon variety. Haghtanak has very strong potential. Produces a wine with intense color and rich tannin structure. Sometimes the fragrances evoke hints of pepper and black berries. During ageing in a barrel the wine ennobles its’ features and achieves roundness. It produces red wines with hints of coffee, chocolate and creams.
Muscat Vardabuyr (in Armenian vard-rose, buyr-aroma) is a rare Armenian grape variety with a middle-late maturation period. The leaves are medium-sized and orbicular. The flower is androgynous. Muscat has middle-sized, conic clusters. The variety has a medium, oval berry with yellowish-green shades. The plump is very juicy with bright muscat aroma.
This grape variety has terpenic tones (terpenes are a class of organic compounds), which specify the unique aroma of Muscat. It produces wine with hints of honey, acacia, lychee and rose. But the particularity of Armenian Muscat is that, despite the European muscats, during the dry fermentation the aromas do not evaporate. This is why Armenian dry muscat often exceeds many European varieties, by its’ aromatic expression.
Voskevaz Winery cooperates with numerous farmers, who supply high-quality local grapes to the estate. In order to achieve perfect quality the winery is controlling the whole process of wine production, starting from the vineyards monitoring and ending with the presentation of the final product. We mainly use grapes from Aragatsotn, Vayots Dzor and Armavir regions in the production of our wines.