The term of office of Nico Schermers, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Armenia, is close to its end. However, the 3 years the ambassador spent here were enough to get to know Armenian wine and love it.
GastroVino talked to Nico Schermers about the first impression left by Armenian wine and the intention to present it in the Netherlands.
The first impression of Armenian wine
I would not say I am a wine expert, but I like to try different types of wine. I tasted Armenian wine for the first time in the Netherlands. When I was already nominated as the ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Armenia, I became interested in Armenian culture, cuisine, and also wine. I was able to find Armenian wine online and order it. After trying it, my first reaction was a pleasant surprise, as Armenia is not known as a wine country in the Netherlands and in the world.
In the case of other wines, I sometimes felt a strange aftertaste, while in the case of Armenian wines, I never had such an experience. What I took for granted with many other wines I do not take for granted anymore after drinking Armenian wines.
Ancient winemaking traditions
After coming to Armenia, I have been to Areni Cave several times, so I became familiar with Armenian winemaking culture and history. I was very interested in the ancient technology of winemaking, so I also visited several Armenian wineries, that are trying to restore and preserve those ancient traditions. I really appreciate that.
The fact that Armenians are the first in producing wine 6300 years ago, surprised me only at first glance, but then I realized that is natural, as Armenian culture is very old itself. Humanity was formed in the Caucasus because it is a favorable place to live. Especially for primitive people of ancient times who had no other means of living, this is a favorable environment for the formation of civilization: fertile soil, much sun, and water. And of course, having a variety of fruits, people started experimenting with them.
The context of wine matters
I am very careful while drinking wine and do not encourage alcohol consumption in any way. I might enjoy a glass during the work week only on the rare occasion of dinner, but mostly I enjoy wine on the weekends. I prefer red dry wine, although I drink more white in the summer.
While living in the Netherlands, I learned something important about wines: when traveling to France on holidays, I used to drink French wines there and that was wonderful, but when I brought the same wines back to the Netherlands, the taste seemed to be different because the environment was different. So, in wine tasting the context matters.
While I am here, I try to drink only Armenian wine, especially made from local authentic varieties. Among them, I like "Areni" and "Haghtanak", and by the way, my name, Nico, has the same meaning as “Hagthanak”- victory.
Armenian wine in the Netherlands
I managed to participate several times in Yerevan wine days. Of course, it is not the best place for trying many different Armenian wines, as because of the wide variety presented it is impossible to properly appreciate all the flavors. However, it is a nice event to meet people and have a good time. I did not get a chance to attend Areni Wine Festival yet, but I think I will be back in Armenia for that.
Having been appointed as an ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Armenia, it is my task to defend the interests of the Dutch population here, and I think it is very important for them to get to know the best wines of the world. That is why one of my goals is to find interested companies and organize the importation of Armenian wine to the Netherlands. Although it is possible to order Armenian wines online, they are not available in stores of the Netherlands. As a citizen of the Netherlands, I would like to see Caucasian or Armenian wines presented separately next to the sections of French, Spanish, Australian, and others.
Photos by Emin Aristakesyan