Zorah Karasi, an interesting wine from Armenia

This is an interesting wine, the brainchild of an Italian-based Armenian,  Zorik Gharibian. After extensive research he purchased some land in Vayotz Dzor, which is historically the key Armenian wine region. With help from wnemaker Alberto Antonini and viticulturist Stefano Bartolomei, he has developed a wine that spans the traditional and modern very successfully.

15 hectares of vineyards have been planted here at 1400 m altitude. Soils are rocky and limestone-rich, and because there is no phylloxera in the region the vines are non-grafted. Grapes were hand-harvested, destemmed and lightly crushed, before fermentation in tank for 10 days. A post-ferment maceration of 24 days was followed by malo in barrel. Ageing? 20% in French oak, 10% in Armenian oak, 40% in stainless steel and 30% in 130 litre Armenian amphorae.

The resulting wine, from young vines (5 years old) is full of interest, but is a little overpriced. As the vines age it may well put on the complexity and intensity of flavour you’d expect for this money. It will be fascinating to follow this project as it develops.

Zorah Karasí 2010 Armenia
A varietal Areni Noir, 13.5% alcohol. Supple, fresh, pure and quite elegant with attractive mid-weight cherry and plum fruit, backed up by some grippy tannins. Very natural tasting and not at all spoofy, yet modern and fruit driven at the same time. There’s an attractive sappy green edge with some grip on the finish, and I find it like a cross between ripe Pinot Noir and a fresh Grenache, with some subtle peppery notes. Very interesting wine and beautifully packaged, but possibly a bit over-priced: while it’s delicious, it is not massively fine or complex. 90/100 (c £22 UK agent Liberty Wines)

Find this wine with wine-searcher.com

4 comments to Zorah Karasi, an interesting wine from Armenia

  • Being of Armenian descent and having visited wineries in Armenia, I’m excited to see vitis vinifera coming to America from Armenia. Though Areni makes an interesting varietal, I always thought the Armenian wine community should invest in Bordeaux varieties.

  • Yeraz Tomassian

    I couldn’t disagree more. Bordeaux varieties belong in Bordeaux and certainly not in Armenia. Whatever happened to authenticity of origin? Armenia has a treasure trove of original yet overlooked grape varieties waiting to be discovered and a wine history that dates 6000 years. This wine has generated a great deal of interest and there is a reason for that; the wine world does not need globalization but diverse, unfamiliar and authentic wines with a strong sense of place. I take my hat off to those who have the vision to sail these uncharted terroirs and dare to bring us something that goes beyond the mainstream!

  • Artem Parseghyan

    I guess that the wine industry that is slightly growing in Armenia must change the global strategy of development. Being originally from Armenia and having an opportunity to study wine science in Bordeaux I think that the question in this case is not the choice of variety. For example if you can penetrate the market with wine made from Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot, making consumers more familiar with Armenian wine and later introduce local varieties to the global market, you probably should do that. We have relatively wide range of different terroirs that can produce totally different styles of wine using many varieties, so what we surely must do is the creation and development of the system of protection of quality and origins (system of appellations), that will regulate the production of wine including the control of viticulture practices, oenological processes, label development and the marketing strategies. We should first understand our wine to be able to introduce it to somebody else

  • Ara Kassabian

    Having recently visited Armenia, I was happily surprised at the development in the wine industry. Alongside the typical “homemade wines”, I saw some serious wineries springing up, including: Domaine Avetissyan, Maran, Karas, and Zorah. The trick now is to get these wines over to the West. Most are still only available in Armenia itself.

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