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2019 Zorah Karashi Red, Armenia (750ml)

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the Zorah project, started by Zorik and Yeraz Gharibian, is truly in a class of its own. Part of Armenia’s vast and far flung diaspora, the couple were unfamiliar with their ancestral homeland before starting Zorah in 1999 (the first vintage was 2010), they were also newcomers to wine (Zorik hails from the fashion business in Italy). However, both were aware of the Armenian reputation of having a wine tradition stretching back 6,000 years – along with Georgia (and Iran, ‘natch) it lays claim to being the birthplace of wine – but one that was allowed to collapse into mediocrity during the Soviet era. Zorah, located in the Armenian highlands in the shadow of Mt Ararat (over the Turkish border) currently produces three wines: Voski, a spritzy but quite complex, layered white made from local varieties Voskeat and Garandmak spends one year in unlined concrete tanks before being bottled; Karasi, a medium bodied red made from key local variety Areni Noir, is aged in Karas (amphorae) sunk in soil; whilst the high end Yeraz is made the same way but produced from bush vine fruit growing at 1600 metres. Volumes are small – just 40,000 for all three wines, with the last yielding just 3000 bottles – but the couple are proud to retain the focus on quality. The king of Armenia’s grapes and possibly one of the oldest grape varieties in the world Areni has been present in Armenia for millennia. Never grafted and on its own roots, it is 100% indigenous to this land with a unique DNA profile that does not match any other. Elegant and fresh, thick skinned and extremely resistant to disease, through the ages Areni has adapted perfectly to the high altitudes and extreme temperatures variations of Vayots Dzor, its natural habitat.

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