The most outstanding projects are born of a simple idea, and it is the hard work and perseverance, infinite devotion and love for the deed that drive them towards victory and success. It is this one idea that created the history of one white wine.
Simple solutions and nobleness in every detail. Light flavors, lucidity, sincerity and easy-going character, delicate style, clarity and naturalness of the aroma – perhaps, this is how one can describe the white wine of Tus.
It is indeed an obliging challenge for Tus to make part of the history of the whole region.
Expressing one's soul through wine, allowing an ordinary person to connect with history, culture and to a whole nation through a sip of wine is a time-consuming and laborious deed, like the job of a jeweler. In every sip of Tus, one makes sure the winery has managed to do it.
The small family-run estate Tus was established in 2017. It is among the few representatives of renaissance of the family-run winemaking trend in Armenia.
The history of the winery originates from the 20th century when the grandfather of the current winery owner toiled over the vineyards near Koghb, Tavush region. He was cultivating Lalvari – a terribly capricious yet a bountiful grape variety.
Dedication and love for the winemaking in general, and for the this grape variety in particular were passed on to the grandson. It is already the fourth year that the revived estate of Tus has been professionally devoted to the noble mission of cultivating Lalvari indigenous grape variety.
Tus is now a young wine with rich history. Here the history is everywhere - the region, vineyards, grape variety, the name of the wine and even the label.
The etymology of the name of this wine is rooted in history as well. Historically, the Tavush region was already inhabited in the II-I millennia BC. It was named after a region in historical Greater Armenia – Tavush Gavar (Province). However, this region was called ''Tus'' until the VII century.
Taking a bottle of Tus, famous Armenian painter Martiros Saryan's “Lalvar” canvas comes to one's mind. It's this mountain with beautiful Tavush scenery that’s featured on the label. The simple design of the label conveys the idea that Tus Reserve is the continuation of Tus Classic. Putting them next to each other, the entire image of the vineyards and the outline of the mountain chain with majestic Lalvar appears.
The philosophy of the company hinges on production of light, elegant, ''no-strings-attached'' wine with the owner's favourite saying “Quality, quality and quality” being the key princple of the production.
The project is unique in that only Tus produces solely white wine, and Lalvari grape variety is cultivated only here, in this region. This concept is conveyed through the slogan of the company - “If white, then TUS”.
The historical path of Tus wine starts in the vineyards, where one can frequently spot a silhouette of a man, who hardly leaves the place. This is viticulturist Sevak Manukyan, an Armenian from Marseille, France. After earning a degree in the Institut d'Oenologie de l'Universite de Bordeaux, he put his efforts into building Chateau Georges (Arveyres) project from scratch. Now he is back to his historical homeland to support the local wine production.
Over 40 years ago, the Lalvari grape variety was planted in the territory of the vineyard. However, cultivating this grape is not an easy endeavor. According to the viticulturalist, the grape is capricious and wayward like a young lady with untouched beauty that comes with natural nobleness. To deserve her favor and smile is often a Sisyphean labor. Only hard work and professionalism will lead to success, while wrong treatment will bring plain and ordinary results. Lalvari is just ''keen'' on the sun, and only huge patience, experience and love are the key to worthy outcomes. If one compares, Lalvari's character is like that of the Provence Rolle or French Semillon.
At present, the estate owns two more hectares of relatively younger vineyards, where the same grape variety is cultivated.
The vineyards are located on 450 m above the sea. They are mainly exposed on the slopes, opposite to the sun. The vine gets a lot of sunlight during the daytime, which is why the leaves are intentionally removed from the ''morning'' side . The vineyards are not buried for winter.
To receive a Bordeaux-style product, the plant density is high – over 4000 vines on a hectare; one bottle of wine is produced of 1 vine.
The toughness of cultivation multiplies due to the peculiarities of the terroir. The soil structure is clayey in the deeper layers, with a plenty of minerals. Besides, the chemical composition of the soil in the region is rich and diverse.
Green harvesting is applied in the vineyard which results in 60-70% decline in the yield.
To ensure the natural longevity of the vine, the verdure is carefully cut instead of being uprooted, which is stressful for the soil. There is no artificial irrigation in the vineyards.
The harvest starts in mid October; manual harvest is applied everywhere. Afterwards, the grapes are placed in small boxes and moved to refrigerating units with a temperature of 50С.
To produce two white wines, the company purchases 20% of its wine raw material from the local farmers. The whole process of the vegetative growth of grapes is under the strict control of the viticulturist.
Special attention is paid to the grapes for Tus Reserve wine. In a specially selected area with the oldest vines and lowest humidity level, the vine naturally ''torments'' to deliver a small quantity yet high quality harvest.
The entire production process is outsourced to Wine Works, an Armenian consulting company.
The production is equipped with modern technologies (vibratables and pneumatic press machines from Bucher Vaslin, European stainless steel tanks with a temperature control, installations from Gyropalette and so).
Arman Manukyan from Wine Works is the chief enologist of the project. Arman studied in Montpellier and worked in Bordeaux for a long time. Now the whole production process is managed by him.
Tus presents two whines - Tus Classic and Tus Reserve.
The winery production capacity is 50.000 bottles per year; 25% of which is the category Reserve.
The corks for Tus wines are imported from international company Diam Bouchage: Diam-3 for Tus Classic and Diam – 5 for Tus Reserve.
To support local production, the bottles, labels, boxes, and other accessories for the company are bought in Armenia.
Tus Classic wine is preserved for 10-12 months in the stainless steel tanks, while Tus Reserve is aged in barrels from Caucasus oak for 16-18 months. The barrels with a volume of 330l have a low level of toast and belong to Tus.
The French oak Sessile from the historical forest Bertranges (Foret des Bertranges Chêne Sessile) will are used to age Tus Reserve wine 2020.
2017 was the first vintage for Tus wines, which only entered the market in 2019.
After the bottling, Tus Classic spends three months in peace and silence and only then is it ready for the market, whereas Tus Reserve is aged for 5-6 months.
The winery finds all the vintages successful, at the same highlighting that the wine improves year by year. Today, Tus has high hopes for the 2020 vintage.
To support the development of wine tourism and infrastructure of the winery, the castle of Tus is being built in the village of Koghb, against the backdrop of picturesque vineyards. In future, the facility will become an attractive tourist stop for those who will visit the historical monasteries in the Tavush region.
The winery also actively takes part in local and international festivals and expos.
Since 2017 the winery has been collecting an enoteca with 30-40 bottles from each vintage.
Tus excellently keeps the balance between internal and external trade. 70% of the wine produced is for the local market, and 30% is exported.
Tus wines are exported to the USA, Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, England and France. The company is currently negotiating to enter the Russian market.