Wine Bridges Vranec 2013, by Ekaterina Gargova, Tikves Wine District, R.Macedonia

Wine Bridges is a brand developed by Ekaterina Gargova, a Bulgarian enologist who for the past four years has been working for Popova Kula winery in Macedonia. By launching this brand, Katja’s idea was to show the reflection of the Balkan terroir. She started with the Vranec from the vineyards in the Tikvesh wine district, at the same time developing Mavrud from Bulgaria, and Greece is soon to follow. This is a female Vranec, as we call it- very elegant, with tamed tannins, so very difficult to achieve when this variety is in question and something that this lovely lady has done to a perfection. Kudos to Katja!

Plavac Mali 1994 by Milos Winery, Ponikve, Peljesac, Croatia

There aren’t many people who get to taste a 20 year old Plavac Mali. During my visit to Croatia this April as part of the Dalmacija Wine Expo press trip I took visiting wineries on Peljesac, tasting the whole line of Milos Winery’s Plavac Mali was inevitable. Discovering a true gem as this one, unavoidable. Very oily in the glass; the nose showed notes of cherries and dry spices. Very elegant on the palate, with hints of cedar and cocoa, and perfect and long aftertaste. A true perfection in a glass.

My Best Wine Year So Far

My best wine year so far! Tasted 1488 wines- 488 officially & 1000 unofficially, judged at 4 international wine competitions, traveled to 11 wine countries, visited 35 wineries, my country’s wines won numerous medals & met the most amazing #winelover friends. That’s what I call a pretty wine love buzz year!
Here are my 2013 best wine moment, wine highlights, winemakers, wineries & those little wine discoveries that changed my wine path J
P.S. The Macedonian counterpart will be issued on my Christmas

Poças Colheita 1967 by Manuel D. Pocas Junior-Vinhos- Douro, Porto, Portugal
But what to do when you find yourself with a 45 year old Colheita Port & a bunch of amazing winelover friends?- You drink it to the last drop & hope for more! More friends & more Port in the years to come.
Dark amber colour, rich silky texture and long aftertaste of almonds, caramel and sugar crystals. A blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barocca & Tinto Cão- dark amber colour, rich silky texture and long enduring aftertaste of almonds, caramel and sugar crystals.

Zero Brut NV, Edoardo Miroglio- Thracian Valley, Bulgaria
I have from always been known for going to extremes & never staying in the middle. That’s why a Zero Brut by Edoardo Miroglio is my sparkler of the year.
24 months on the lees, this sparkler is a blend of Pinot Noir 80% & Chardonnay 20%. Light yellow-greenish nuances, lemon, elderberry & white flowers on the nose. Intense, fresh and creamy taste, with lots of honeysuckle, raisins and elegant citrus aftertaste.

Profile 2004 by Merryvale Estate Vineyard (St. Helena Appellation), Beckstoffer – ToKalon, Georges III and Vineyard X

At the #winelover’s hangout in Sofia during the BIWC, I had an amazing chance to taste some pretty interesting wines. One of the wines that stood out was by all means Profile 2004 by Merryvale Estate Vineyard (St. Helena Appellation), Beckstoffer – ToKalon, Georges III and Vineyard X. The Good Samaritan who brought this wine at the winelover hangout is unknown to me to this day.
Imagine having made the perfect combination, the perfect blend of 79% Cabernet Sauvignon, 12% Petit Verdot, 7% Merlot, and 2% Cabernet Franc.
Just what a palate like mine asks for- large amounts of cassis & dark ripe cherries hints, on the palate lots of vanilla, cigar box, spicies & cocoa & a very elegant & rich aftertaste…enduring aftertaste! Aged for 18 months in new French oak barrels & bottled unfiltered. Oh, those silky chewy tannins!

Alvarinho 2011, Vinho Verde by Quinta de Soalheiro, Portugal
At 30 something degrees in the sunny Lisbon, during the Adegga Sumer Wine Market, all I could hope for is to either stick to an air-conditioning or find the coolest wines & come to my senses/to freshen up a bit. You guess right- I stick to the wine. When my lips came across Alvarinho the Vinho Verde by Soalheiro I knew the evening was saved! Even though going back as far as 2006, I would have to highlight 2009 but I still opt for 2011.
The blue cheese hints, and the lime & citrus freshness & that pleasant but gripping acidity made me “camp” in the Special Selection Room for the rest of the evening.

Techni Alipias (Sauvignon Blanc & Assyrtiko) 2012, Wine Art Estate, PGI Drama, Greece
Techni Alipias blend of Sauvignon Blanc & Assyrtiko 2012 is by far one of my fav whites of the year. The young winemaker’s confidence, the talented Akis Papadopolous, is traced in all his wines. This young man is treading on a very ambitious wine path- watch this young man’s name- he’ll do miracles in the years to come.
Intense and fresh, citrus, mango and yellow flowers on the nose, rice pudding and buttery touch finish

Pinot Noir 2011 by Raevskoe Winery, Raevskaya village, North Caucasia, Russia

Imagine you’re having dinner & wine tasting with another 200 wine judges & friends in Elesko, maybe one of the biggest wineries in Slovakia, & a friend, the leading wine critic in Slovakia, Vladimir Hronsky, comes up to you & says he’s making a private wine tasting & judging of Caucasusian wines at the wine bar downstairs only for seven close friends. You excuse yourself & rush to the wine bar! And then you discover Pinot Noir 2011 by Raevskoe Winery, 5000 bottles only from North Caucasia.
Cedar and tobacco on the nose, the taste was full with lots of vanilla and mellow tannins. 10 months aged in barrels made from Caucasian Adygeya oak produced by Seguin Moreau.

Schell Mann Achtung! Wein 2007 by Loimer, Thermen Region, Austria
Though being dreadfully late for the master class of the greatest Austrian wines & missing most of the “action”, I somehow found myself enjoying the privilege to sip the Schell Mann Achtung! Wein 2007 together with the lecturer himself, Andreas Wickhoff, in the back row while attending the master class that followed given by….exactly! The wine was that good that I completely forgot who’s master class I attended.Enjoyed to the last drop this orange wine.
A blend of Grüner Veltliner, Rotgipfler, Zierfandler, Traminer, Muskateller, this orange wine showed a subtle and gripping acidity, and intriguing almost oily structure of quince, caramel, apple & yellow fruits.

The Gambling Priest, Pinot Noir 2011 by Heaps Good Wine Company, Ritoznoj, Slovenia
Yes, I am a Pinot Noir sucker! But, aren’t we all?!? Discovered Nick’s wines at BIWC for the first time this year & was blown away by this Aussi’s style- fairly to say I wasn’t the only one.
It is so hard to find a good everyday Pinot Noir these days that would satisfy a sensitive palate, enjoyable & also, affordable as well.
Abundance of dark meaty cherries, plums on the nose. Full & round on the palate with an over accentuated but balanced oakiness and enduring & elegant aftertaste with subtle spiciness.

Pinot Noir 2006 by Williams Selyem, Russian River Valley, California
During the #winelover hangout in Ljubljana, I was handed this PN & as the evening went on & I gave my wine tasting notes. To my surprise, I was described as someone who likes sunshine in her glass. Oh, but don’t I?!? After all, I do come from a sunny land.
Perfumed bouquet of dry peppers, dark cherries, spices- tobacco, pepper & clove dominating, quite intriguing on the palate with raspberries, and

Touriga Nacional 2007 by Cortes de Cima, Portugal

When I found myself face to face with this elegant lady- Touriga Nacional 2007 by Cortes de Cima- I so humbly bowed my head as she made me feel there’s so much more I’d have to learn about elegance. For when you come across a wine as elegant as Touriga Nacional, far more elegant than you ever thought you were, that’s the time you realize there’s so much more to learn. And yes, that’s the time I no longer feel like a lady- I had overtly been surpassed.
The Touriga proved elegance, lots of violets, blackcurrants, perfumed spiciness, complex and continuously elegant aftertaste.
Disznókő Tokaji Aszú 6 puttonyos 2000, Disznókő Estate, Hungary

I do taste wines but now & then, when I come across a dessert wine I truly enjoy, there’s barely a sip left in my glass. Alas, to all the wine tasting! As I set on a terrace while sipping Disznókő Tokaji Aszú 6 puttonyos 2000, and as the lovely spring breeze went on caressing my very tired nostrils, I kept on thinking of the sweet things about life- wines like this one are to be enjoyed to a full extent of your tasting senses.
Dark golden colour, aromatic nose of honey, citrus, lemon & dark ripe yellow fruits. Poised tones of mashed quince, caramel, candied orange & hints of vanilla & coconut oil on the palate. A true dessert gem!

Abel Quinta das Bageiras Pai Abel Chumbado 2011 Branco, Portugal
A friend told me once- you should always need to find a little something to keep you motivated so you could go on in life. And as everyone should have something to hope for, I saved a bottle given to me by the winemaker Joao Rico who told me an interesting story behind the wine. And the unusual story re this wine is that the leading tasters from the Chamber of the Bairrada Wine Commission did not accept this wine as wine with designation of origin. Mário Sérgio Nuno, recognized as one of the most respectful people in following tradition in Bairrada, convinced the winery that they had the best Father Abel ever and they decided to bottle it as table wine branded Father Abel Rejected. I must have had the most stupefied look due to the story, Joao handed me this bottle of Pai Abel Chumbado 2011 Branco & told me I should open it after 3 years. I do believe procrastination brings pleasure but I’ve never been a woman to hold tight to my constraints because once I’m deliberately tempted into “don’t do that”, and come across something I truly enjoy, it’s time for failure to reason & hallo to pampering of my senses! However, promised to restrain myself for another year. . .

This is what I have to look forward to:
One of the most iconic and renowned wines from Portugal, Pai Abel from the Quinta das Bágeiras. There are wines that tell stories and Pai Abel is one such case. Born with the name of “Pai Abel” (Father Abel) in 2009, a tribute from the owner of Quinta das Bágeiras to his father, quickly became one of the most celebrated wine in the country and the producer is recognized as one of the most respectful of tradition in Bairrada. The wine is fantastic. With grapes Bical and Maria Gomes with aging in wood. Wine with character, designed to challenge the senses and leaves no one indifferent. . .
. . . Told you!