Armenia’s “Ararat” cognac may leave the Russian market following other Western alcohol beverages. According to the Russian media, the case is that the Yerevan Brandy Factory belongs to the French. But they, however, are not in a hurry to break contracts with Russian buyers, because without them the Armenian plant simply cannot survive.
Armenian Economy Minister Vahan Kerobyan recently announced the termination of the export of alcohol to Russia from the Yerevan Brandy Factory. "I have no official data, but it seems to be official: the factory will stop exporting to Russia. This may affect the purchase of grapes, and we must monitor the situation and respond as necessary," Kerobyan said at a meeting of the Armenian parliament's commission on economic issues.
In connection with this news, one of the many Armenian myths came to mind, and in our particular case, the myth of the so-called Armenian cognac.
Faktyoxla Lab. has tried to clarify how and why this myth emerged.
So, for more than 50 years, Armenians have been spreading the story "about Churchill and Armenian cognac", which can be found in various versions. Most often, it is stated as follows: “Winston Churchill was very fond of Armenian brandy and drank a bottle of 50-degree brandy Dvin every day. Once the English prime minister discovered that Dvin had lost its former taste. He expressed his displeasure to Stalin. It turned out that the master Margar Sedrakyan, who was engaged in blending "Dvin", was exiled to Siberia. He was returned, reinstated in the party. Churchill began to receive his favorite cognac again, and Sedrakyan was subsequently awarded the title of Hero of Socialist Labor." The same text is found in the media, which are most often aimed at the Armenian reader, for example, in Sputnik Armenia. It is also available on many websites of alcohol and cigar stores.
Let's start with the fact that almost all over the world (especially in the CIS countries), people know that the Armenians have a "habit" to convince others of their ability to create a unique product. But, sooner or later, there comes a moment when another soap bubble of another Armenian myth bursts. That is what happened this time as well. A few years ago, the Armenian government approved a financial agreement with the EU, according to which the country will receive 3 million euros for refusing to use the word "cognac" when labeling its alcoholic products.
From the resolution of the Government of the Republic of Armenia, the draft of which was then presented by Minister of Economy Vahan Kerobyan, it follows that "the purpose of the financial agreement is to contribute to the smooth and effective cessation of the use of the geographical indication "cognac" for Armenian products, as well as to help the Armenian industry to maintain its competitiveness in export markets."
The thing is that according to European rules, only drinks produced in the French city of Cognac can be called that way. At the same time, it is important to note that back in 2010, the Armenian government decided to introduce a new trade name for Armenian brandy - "Arbun" (from the Armenian verb "harbel" - "get drunk"). It is noted that "grape alcohol produced exclusively in the territory of Armenia" is used as a raw material for arbun. That is, instead of "Armenian cognac" there will appear "Armenian arbun". Obviously, it may seem to many that the myth is over and it has collapsed. But it was not there. The myth about the "Armenian cognac that Churchill adored" has disappeared, but the essence does not change. The new Armenian drink will retain all the names of "Armenian cognac".
For example, as is known, consciousness, subject to alcohol, easily passes ideological suggestions to the level of the subconscious layer. This technique was successfully used by shamans and magicians of various religions, when the neophyte was indoctrinated in a state of narcotic trance. For example, Armenians receive a VIP guest and fork out for a banquet, where they treat the guest dearly with Abgar. The valued guest sips an Armenian arbun, which was previously called brandy, and the image of the “Armenian king” Abgar looms before his eyes on the bottle, and the signal that synchronizes the “Armenianism” of Abgar with the pleasant warmth from the drink gradually flows to the level of the subconscious. Nearby is the receiving party, pours into the consciousness of an important counterpart a story about how the Armenian king of ancient Edessa was the first to see the light of Christianity and "Greater Armenia." "The last page of the book, - according to the advertisement - the most desirable - a bottle of 40-year-old arbun (cognac) "King Agbar". All in all, a clever idea.
But let’s get back to Winston Churchill.
Firstly, there is simply no reliable evidence that Churchill preferred Armenian cognac and that it was delivered to him from the USSR. The relations between the UK and the USSR after the end of World War II began to deteriorate rapidly, which initially cast doubt on the reliability of this story, which eventually turned out to be another Armenian myth.
Secondly, Dmitry Blintsov, a senior researcher at the Livadia Palace Museum, where the Yalta conference was held, considers the "love story" of Churchill and Armenian brandy a myth.
“It seems to me that for the most part this is already a myth created around Churchill and his stay in the USSR. In the documents and materials that I studied, information on this matter is not exactly traced. Churchill had a passion for cognac long before he met Stalin and the Soviet Union “By that time, I think, he had already formed some of his own taste preferences.” According to Blintsov, if we talk specifically about the Crimean Conference of 1945, then the name of a particular Armenian cognac never appears in the available historical materials. It is only mentioned that in Yalta politicians used Georgian champagne and "cognac from the Caucasus region": "All this is more like marketing based on a myth, which, in turn, arose on the basis of the fact that Churchill really knew how and loved to drink and met in the person of Stalin, if not a rival, then the same connoisseur of alcoholic beverages... Therefore, we can confidently say that the British prime minister was really familiar with domestic cognacs, but, in my opinion, there can be no talk of any kind of love. This myth was born, which simply fell into fertile soil: that's how he respected and loved us, that even the Armenian cognac drank and could not do without it. The scientist believes that Churchill really could well, as an honored guest, compliment the host on the drink and thus somehow stimulate it morally. "This is such an element of diplomacy. Perhaps he publicly somehow encouraged this cognac, showed interest. But there is no reason to say that it somehow filled his life and he could not do without it," he said.
It is noteworthy that in his memoirs, one of Stalin's associates, People's Commissar for the Food Industry Anastas Mikoyan, noted that during the conference in Yalta, Churchill especially appreciated Soviet champagne. “I must say that Stalin always had a high opinion of our champagne. And in this assessment, he was not alone. The British Foreign Minister Eden (later Prime Minister) spoke very commendably of our champagne and even asked for a case of this wine for the English king, which, of course, was done (among other things, it was a good advertisement for our champagne). Churchill also liked our champagne very much, and therefore, during the famous meeting of heads of government in the Crimea, several cases of Soviet champagne were sent to him. True, Stalin preferred semi-sweet and sweet champagne. He did not like dry and brut, he even offered to stop their production. With difficulty, I defended these varieties, citing export requirements,” Mikoyan wrote.
Thirdly, Churchill's relationship with Armenian cognac is discussed in detail in the book "Armenian Food: Fact, Fiction and Folklore" by Irina Petrosian and David Underwood. The story about the fact that Churchill drank a bottle of Armenian cognac a day and that Stalin regularly sent him cognac in boxes, the authors consider fiction. Firstly, there is no evidence in English-language sources of regular deliveries of Armenian cognac to Churchill. After 1946, relations between the former allies entered the Cold War stage. Churchill delivered his famous Fulton speech in which he spoke of the Iron Curtain. Stalin sharply responded to it in the Pravda newspaper, calling the former British prime minister a warmonger and comparing him with Hitler. At that time, there was no time for cognac.
Another argument against the myth of Churchill's regular use of Armenian cognac is the politician's well-studied tastes. The website of the International Churchill Society, which studies his legacy, details the preferences of the politician in the field of alcohol. Of the cognacs, he preferred the French Hine, but nothing is known for certain about the Armenian.
However, in the myth that we are analyzing, a very specific sort of Armenian cognac, Dvin, is even indicated. Most likely, the original source is a publication in the London Evening Standard on March 23, 2012. The article said that Churchill annually received 400 bottles of cognac from the USSR. But it is unlikely that this publication can be taken seriously, since it is of an advertising nature and praises the Armenian cognac as such. Thus, there is no acceptable evidence of the love story and Churchill's daily use of Armenian cognac.
Of course, it will be difficult for people who prefer to live in illusions, chasing unrealizable mirages, engaging in primitive self-deception.
Thus, the price of the Armenian myth turned out to be penny.