REGION: VAYOTS DZOR
PRODUCER: AIMEE KEUSHGUERIAN
SOIL: ALLUVIAL ROCKS, VOLCANIC MATERIAL
ELEVATION: 1200 METERS
PRUNING: HEAD-TRAINED, TRELLISED MIX
VINE AGE: 50-100 YEARS, OWN-ROOTED
FARMING: HAND-HARVESTED, SUSTAINABLY
VARIETY: 100% ARENI
AGING: 12 MONTHS
LIMITED TO 300 CASES / YEAR
When Armenia was absorbed into the Soviet Union in 1921, the identity of many Armenian
varieties was obscured and eventually forgotten. Due to the Soviet demand for brandy,
fermented fruit juice gained anonymity, and many vineyards were replanted to
maximize yields. The fruit for the Areni Reserve comes from Aghasafi, a small village
in the Arpa River Valley. Coming from a single south-facing plot, the fruit is hand-harvested
and fermented in stainless steel before spending 12 months in neutral French and
Caucasian oak barrels. Caucasian oak trees are the same genetic material as French
and Hungarian oak (predominately Quercus Petrea, with some quercus robur), but
due to Armenia’s elevation, the trees grow even more slowly – resulting in a tighter
wood grain and higher level of oak tannin.
Zulal is the Armenian word for pure, and this sense of authenticity permeates the winery.
Zulal was founded in 2017 by Aimee Keushguerian, who learned enology while working for
her father at Keush. Fascinated with the viticultural diversity in Armenia, Aimee created
Zulal with the goal of showcasing her country’s indigenous varieties through monovarietal
bottlings unadorned by excessive winemaking.
Likely due to the mountainous climate and exposure to UV light, Areni is a
thick-skinned variety that grows in tight bunches. Aimee and winemaker Arman
Manoukian use neutral oak to concentrate Areni’s brambly fruit aromas and herbal
undernotes. More dark-fruited than the Classic, the Areni Reserve has the structure
of a Burgenland Blaufrankisch or Côte-Rôtie Syrah. The Keushguerian family
suggests buying a case – drinking half the bottles young with Khorovats
(grilled Armenian kebabs) and aging the other six bottles for a decade.