Armenian-Georgian Facebook showdown
Georgian users have argued that Armenian winemakers misappropriated Georgian wines Saperavi and Kakheti, while Armenians have turned down this accusation. Georgian Facebook users have insisted that Armenians are using in their wine name Georgian place-name Kakheti. The name of this Georgian region sound like “Kakhet in Armenian. That’s exactly the name of the Armenian wine. Armenians have disagreed with the accusation: that’s the name of the Armenian grape variety…
These disputes have become an occasion for our little investigation. On which side does the truth lie?
If one types ‘Kakheti-Kakhetia’ in the search engine, the Internet will give information about the region of Georgia, known for its wine-making tradition. If one searches for ‘Kakhet’, he/she will immediately get the information that it is a native Armenian wine grape variety of late maturation period.’ It is widespread in Artashat, Ararat valley and Kotayk region.
The inscription on the labels of wines, produced by ‘MAP’, Proshyan Brandy Factory and ‘365 wines» company, reads: ‘Wine made of endemic Armenian grape variety Kakhet.’
The company, operating under the trademark ‘365 wines», produces wines exclusively from this grape variety. Vahagn Gevorgyan, Company Director, says: ‘We have never had any problems with this name.’
Garush Samvelyan, winemaker:
-I’ve got Kakhet grape variety vineyards, I cultivate and sell it. This is an original Armenian indigenous varieties, it has velvety leaves and it can be easily distinguished from other varieties.
Zaruhi Muradyan, the President of the Young Winemakers’ Union, shows us ‘The Caucasus and Northern Black sea Region Ampelography, where Armenian Kakhet grape variety is mentioned on the 54th page.
The question about Georgian origin of this grape variety is frequently raised on our domestic market. However, the ampelography (ampelography – the science that studies wine and grape varieties, JAMnews note) and many other books provide information about a purely Armenian indigenous grape variety Kakhet, – Zaruhi Muradyan notes. – I’ve been working in this field for many years, but I have never heard such remarks from Georgian colleagues. They admit that this is Armenian variety and that they do not have a variety with such quality characteristics. By the way, this variety makes an excellent wine.
Speaking about the etymology of the name of Kakhet variety, the majority of experts note that the matter, most likely, concerns the root of the Armenian word ‘hang’ – ‘kakhel.’ However, Nelly Hovhannisyan, the head of the Department of Ecology and Nature Protection of the Yerevan State University, says:
-As a grape variety, Kakhet was recorded in 1947 ampelography, where all Armenian grape varieties (selected and indigenous) are registered. As for the name, there may be similarity and it can be assumed that it arose from a place name – Kakheti. Nothing can be ruled out, all in all, this is one region and there may be borrowings.
Gevorg Hayrapetyan, a lawyer, notes that the name should be explained:
– If a producer can prove that the wine name is not associated with the name of the region, and that it is really the Armenian variety, the issue will be settled in favor of the producers. And the important thing is not just the availability of this variety, but rather that the wine name is based on the name of the variety. If, for instance, the wine is called Kakhet and its packaging shows some famous Kakheti scenery, but, at the same time, the manufacturer claims that the wine name comes from the name of the variety, then, of course, it can be challenged.
Areg Khojoyan, a winemaker, talks about a tradition to name wine by the name of a grape variety it is made of.
– Wines, in general, are named by the names of grape varieties or the geographic location. Armenia-made wines are usually named by the name of grape variety. We do not have the names like ‘Bordeaux’, ‘Burgundy’, ‘Tuscany’, Armenian winemaking focuses on grape varieties – says Areg Hodzhoyan.- The world’s most common grape variety is Chardonnay. On ‘Chardonnay’ wine, produced in any country engaged in winemaking, can be found at the world market. Consequently, there may be Armenia-made Chardonnay, as well as Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Rkatsiteli and Saperavi, produced in Armenia.
Zaruhi Muradyan, the President of the Young Winemakers’ Union, also confirms that the use of the variety names is a common practice:
-Everybody knows that Saperavi is Georgia variety, and we have many other European grape varieties, that we use in wine production and that has never caused any problems. For example, we have French grape varieties in Ijevan, Armavir, Aragatsotn region. The bottle label necessarily indicates, what variety the wine is made of. If it is Chardonnay, then we all know that this is a French variety, but it is also cultivated in Armenia.
Finally, we requested a bottle of “Kakhet in a number of huge supermarkets in Yerevan and asked the salespersons, whether it was Georgian wine. The answer was always the same: we don’t have Georgian Kakhet, only Armenian one is available, we get only Armenian Kakhet.
The only question that remains open is: what makes an Armenian client choose exactly the Kakhet? Is it a desire to taste wine made of Armenian variety Kakhet, or a buyer associates the name with the region of Georgia and chooses this wine as ‘Georgian’?