Affordable Holiday Wines in Yerevan

As people scramble to do last minute food shopping there's a few wines I recommend for those celebrating 2013 in Yerevan this season. Here's a list, in no particular order of preference:

Cadet d'Oc Cabernet Sauvignon, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, 2010. This is a lovely fragrant red, available at your neighborhood Star Supermarket. It's great to drink as-is, with a plate of assorted cheeses or a hearty meal. And for 2690 dram (about $6.70), you can't go wrong at all. By the way, if you love French wine SAS now offers a great selection with prices ranging from $10 to $500+ (no joke).

Karas, Armavir Vinyards, 2011. This premium Armenian wine costs a little more than the aforementioned Cabernet. Karas is hands down one of the best domestically produced bottled wines I've tasted here. There is absolutely no unappetizing vinegary aftertaste that you find in many Arenis and semi-dry wines. It's a real European-class wine made in small batches, which means it's not all that easy to find, although SAS and even Nor Zovk (on Nalbandyan Street, on the block between Tumanyan and Sayat Nova) seem to carry it in good supply.  There is also a Karas white, which I've only seen once on the store shelf and have yet to taste.

Cuvée del Centenario, La Caccatoria. An unpretentious, crisp refreshing Italian white (shouldn't they all be that way?) that naturally should be served chilled. But be careful, as the taste is so delicate you will be downing it faster than you can pour. Better buy two bottles if you're aiming for only one. At 1700 dram ($4.50) a pop at Nor Zovk, you won't be complaining about the cost. There is only a handful of Nor Zovk supermarkets, the largest one I know of being in Aresh on Davit Bek Street for those who know their way around town. They have a great imported beer selection at that location as well.

I still stand behind Chateau Voskevaz and Artsakh Shushi, two wonderfully unique wines that are still hard to locate but not impossible. As a precaution I would stay away from store-bought Arenis, although you may fare well with one from Maran Winery so long as you let it breathe for at least twenty minutes before pouring. I can't recommend any particular vintage since it's hit or miss--you'll either love it or pour it down the drain.

One source has told me that many companies are actually bottling wine imported from China and selling it as Areni or whatever else, so keep this in mind. This explains why Areni I once tried offered by two totally different "wineries" tasted exactly the same.

Happy drinking, and enjoy the New Year!


Narbey Derbekyan said…
Have you tried the Zorah Karasi, that was in the news earlier?
I haven't found that yet. It might be an export-only wine. There are some high-end liquor stores that might have it in stock, though, have to check.
Vagabonde said…
2012 certainly went fast. Yesterday we drank an Italian Proseco sparkling wine with our meal – it is good when very cold. I have never tried an Armenian wine – I don’t think they sell them in Atlanta. When we were in St Petersburg, Russia, I bought a bottle of Armenian brandy (luckily I can read Russian, if not I would not have known it was from Armenia - Армянский коньяк.) It translates as Armenian Cognac, but it is not that strong, it is Brandy. It is good that you can buy French wines that are not too expensive. By the way Areg is growing well and fast. I bet he is spoiled by his grandparents! Give him a kiss for me. I hope that for you and those you love 2013 will be filled with the things you enjoy and opportunities for much happiness.

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