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MOONQ’s Nrneni revival

Armenia prides itself on being the cradle of winemaking, with the oldest winery ever discovered (Areni-1) located in southern Armenia (much to the chagrin of neighbouring Georgia).

It also has an array of exotic sounding grapes that excite geeks like me, such as Haghtanak, Karmrhayut, Khatun Kharj and Khndognhi alongside the more well-known local grapes Areni and Voskehat that find their way into international markets.

There’s now a “new” grape back on the scene: Nrneni (nr-neni).
Developed as a hybrid in the 1970s, ignored in the 1980s (in favour of planting international varieties), and thought to be extinct, one man has rediscovered this and is putting his efforts into reviving it.

That man is Tevan Poghosyan – politician, polymath, lecturer and more recently : winemaker.

Tevan had been making wine as a hobby at home since 2004 with grapes sourced from local vineyards, producing about 100 bottles a year for family and friends.

In 2021 he decided to transform this hobby into a business and in his father’s modest country house established a small family garage winemaking facility.

He named the winery MOONQ which means “we”/”us” to pay respect to the “resilience of the community that stays together, recovers, and continues to create”.

Upon DNA analysis of the vines it was shown that grape that he had used since 2004 was in fact a long forgotten crossing of Saperavi & Semenac (Semenac being a crossing of Cabernet Sauvignon & Alicante Bouschet) that was thought to have been extinct.

These 60 vines on a half hectare plot are the only known vines of Nrneni. Officially recognised as an Armenian grape in 1980, it is a “crossing”, so it cannot be considered an endemic or indigenous grape.

He has since acquired plot and is grafting it onto further vines with the aim of doubling this in new coming years.

Nrneni can be found in 2 wines from MOONQ:

  • 100% Nrneni – 1,000 bottles / year first produced in 2021

A powerful wine with earthy (beetroot, sweet potting soil) and dark fruit character.
Well structured with firm tannins and high acidity – recommended to decant and allow to breathe for at least 1 hour before drinking.

  • Red blend (Areni, Khdoghni + Nrneni) – 4,000 bottles / year

A powerful red blend with dark fruit and leather notes
Structured with fresh acidity.

Part of the 2022 Nrneni vintage is being aged in 2 x 225l oak barrels to see how it evolves.

Other wineries in Armenia have mentioned using “Nrneni” in their wines, however this seems to be an arbitrary name given to grapes grown near the actual Nrneni vineyard, and all evidence suggests that MOONQ’s Nrneni is the only one in production.

For further information on MOONQ and to arrange a tour and tasting, please visit:

https://moonqwines.com/

You can also follow MOONQ on Instagram : @moonwines

Make sure to subscribe to the Wine Fogg newsletter for updates on future articles on rare grapes and the stories of their (re)discovery:
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Tags: armenia, MOONQ, Nrneni

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