Category Archives: Armenia

A Brave New World…

Sometimes we all need the tried, tested and familiar around us, whether that it is our choice of food, drink, fashion or general lifestyle. But sometimes – and social media is a great inspiration here – we need to think outside of our comfort zone. Wine is no exception.

Here at Hallgarten & Novum we are proud of our eclectic offering in terms of wines, whether that be new grape varieties or unfamiliar countries (when it comes to winemaking.)

And it is often the “Old World” which is leading the way.

I remember the first time that Steve Daniel introduced me to our new wines from Armenia; I was so impressed by the lovely perfume of the Karmrahyut grape, vibrantly redolent of rosemary and lavender. Our new range from Vachnadziani is a wake-up call, with refreshing mineral laden whites from those hard to pronounce varieties such as Rkatsiteli, Krakhuna and Mtsvane putting me in mind of good Chablis.

Grape varieties such as Santorini’s Assyrtiko have established themselves in our UK market as go-to wines, and are now spreading their influence to other countries. We have examples of this grape from the Lebanon from Oumsiyat and Australia’s Clare Valley from Jim Barry, all showing the lovely freshness and salinity which has made the grape so popular.

Winemakers are rediscovering old techniques such as fermentation in amphora. Look out for the amphora wines from Rocim from the Alentejo region in Portugal where traditional vinification in ‘tahla’ meets modern winery techniques.

With global warming, some regions are now being forced to rethink the varieties that have traditionally been the mainstay of their vineyards as producers are faced with higher temperatures, less water availability and more weather extremes.  Bordeaux, for example, is looking at different varieties such as Alvarinho, Marselan and Touriga Nacional which are more mildew resistant and can cope with the warmer temperatures which are driving up the alcohol levels of Merlot in particular leading to a change of style compared to 20 years ago.  The traditional wines of Bordeaux may look very different in the future!

With 40 years in the wine trade and 24 years as an MW behind me, one of the pleasures that I continue to have is to discover grape varieties and wines hitherto unknown to me and then to share this enthusiasm and encourage consumers to explore these wines for themselves in this Brave New World of wine.

Lighten up the lockdown period with these three styles of wine

When you’re in the wine trade in these times of lockdown, a glass of wine after work once you’ve shut the laptop down is what keeps you sane! Here are some of our Hallgarten Head Start Apprentice, Amca Zago’s ‘go-to’ styles of wine with a recommendation for each.

 

  1. What better way to lighten your mood than some bubbles?

The sound of the cork popping, the crackling noise the bubbles make when you pour the wine into the glass and the first sip of your well-deserved wind down time – that surely is happiness for everyone? There are so many styles of sparkling wine to choose from, but my ‘go-to’ at the moment and the one which is putting the biggest smile on my face is a little-known vino frizzante from Emilia-Romagna produced using the Pignoletto grape variety.

As an alternative to Prosecco, Pignoletto Frizzante is often produced in a Charmat (tank) method, however the effervescent is usually softer than that of Prosecco. Cevico ‘Romandiola’ is a slightly unique Pignoletto Frizzante as it spent 15 days on its lees which makes for a much fuller, creamier and harmonious palate.

  1. While waiting to get away, why not have a wine from your favourite holiday destination

Hardly not being allowed to leave your house let alone the country, you have to bring the holiday back home. Holiday to me is often all about the wine, drinking with the sound of waves crashing on the rocks, sea mist filling the air and the sun beaming down.

Therefore, while the sky is blue, try sitting outside (possibly with a coat on, we are in England after all) with a crisp, aromatic glass of Bodegas Viñátigo Marmajuelo from the Spanish island of Tenerife. If you close your eyes (and ignore the temperature) the bright aromas of passion fruit and fig tree leaves along with the racy acidity can really make you feel as if you were truly on holiday.

  1. Being in the wine trade, you always have to be drinking something a little different

You don’t always need a style of wine as your ‘go-to’. Why no

t pick up a bottle of something you’ve never heard of, never tasted or always wanted to try? Sometimes, especially if you work in the wine trade, you have to expand your palate and knowledge by tasting the out-of-the-ordinary, unique and exciting wines. This includes a huge range of styles; from orange and natural wines, to indigenous grape varieties, to small producers.

These wines can be anything that will make your eyes open wide, put a smile on your face and make your taste buds pop. There are so many interesting wines which are worth trying during the ‘lockdown’ period, so why not start with a wine from the country which is considered to be the birthplace of wine… Armenia. Armenia has many indigenous grape varieties, each with their own characteristics, however the white grape variety Voskehat is a good choice for the spring/summer time and while the sun is shining. The ArmAs Voskehat has intense and complex aromas which follow through onto the long, elegant palate.

Go and make your lockdown that little bit more enjoyable by pouring yourself out that glass of wine!

 

 

 

WOTM: ArmAs, Aragatsotn, Voskehat 2018

Armenian wines are a recent addition to our portfolio, discovered by head of buying, Steve Daniel. Founded by Armen Aslanyan, ArmAs is revitalising Armenia’s historic winemaking legacy. Situated on the 45th parallel, the 180 hectare estate is surrounded by a 17 kilometre brick wall – the Great Wall of Armas – set against the backdrop of Mount Ararat. The Voskehat grape literally translates to “Golden Seed” in the old Armenian language and our April wine of the Month, ArmAs, Aragatsotn, Voskehat 2018, is certainly a golden wine, long and elegant, with a streak of minerality.

In a nutshell

Intense and floral aromas of fennel, green apple, fresh rosemary and lime are complemented by subtle spice and mineral undertones, fresh and tingly on the finish.

The producer

Armenia is considered to be the birthplace of wine, with biblical references to the region being planted with vines. Armenia also hosts the site of the oldest known winemaking ruins, which date back 6100 years. Founded by Armen Aslanyan, ArmAs is revitalising Armenia’s historic winemaking legacy. Situated on the 45th parallel, the estate covers 180 hectares of stunning vineyard and orchards, on an undulating terrain of complex soils set against the backdrop of Mount Ararat. Winemaker Emilio del Medico pays homage to this heritage by creating elegant and distinct wines from estate grown native varieties.

The wine

The grapes were carefully selected to maintain the highest quality. Fermentation took place at 16 to 17°C with selected yeasts in stainless steel to retain the purity of fruit. Maturation of eight months on the lees with weekly bâtonnage, imparted texture and complexity to the resulting wine.