The Balkans International Wine Competition 2015

My fourth year as a member of the jury of BIWC makes me feel a bit of a veteran at this wine competition. Being given the privilege to be part of the jury for four consecutive years, provides me with the much needed introspective of the Balkan wines year after year. Not to mention that to my benefit, I have been able to follow the progress of the quality of the wines, changing of the wine making philosophy in some of the wineries, following trends, styles, yet trying to remain faithful to the tradition.

Behind the Curtains
Three tasting panels, four members in each, one panel judge, using the 20 points Australian Show Model way of scoring the wines and quite a lot of wines to taste. A great jury and three MW’s- Konstantinos Lazarakis ( Greece- president of the jury), Julia Harding (UK) and Rod Smith (UK), as well as Igor Lukovic (Serbia), Paul Robert Bloom (The Netherlands), Jasen Zahariev (Bulgaria), Tzveta Tanevska (Bulgaria), Elissaveta Zaharieva (Bulgaria), Mari V. Ardelean (Romania/Italy), Bartolomeo Roberto Lepori (Italy), Sasa Spiranec (Croatia), Bruno Gabershek (Slovenia) and myself.
Two days of judging went smooth, the quality of the entered samples seems to be higher year after year, the better from the best easily surfaced. Yet, for the first time at BIWC the scores at the grand finale while searching for the Grand trophy were even. We as judges were unanimous in our decision- at two attempts in a row.

BIWC- The Wine Festival
The two days of wine competition were followed by a wine festival, reserved to all those who want to discover some of the best wines from the Balkans- wine distributors, journalists, tasters, bloggers etc.
The Balkans has been an emerging wine region just as of recently, though with rich winemaking history and the fifth biggest in the world. Known as powder keg, due to its ardent political history, its wine future seems unpredictable as well.
So much to taste- Bulgarian Gamza, enjoyed the indigenous Turkish grape varieties Narince, Papaskarasi, some of my favourite wine producers from Greece and the indigenous grape varieties to Greece- Assyrtiko, Savatiano, Agiroghitiko, Malagouzia, and some truthful expressions of the varietal characteristics in many of the other wines from Romania, Croatia, Macedonia etc.
It is more than obvious- expression of the terroir, main focus on the varietal characteristics without any further interventions in the cellar is the new wave on the Balkans.

Who are the guys that keep wining all the time & why
The Bulgarian king of sparkling wines, Edoardo Miroglio, and the many times awarded Matalj Winery from Serbia, shared the Grand Trophy for best wine at the BIIWC 2015.The winners were the sparkling wine Special Selection Pinot Noir & Chardonnay 2005 by Edoardo Miroglio and the red Kremen Kamen Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 by Matalj Winery.
Edoardo Miroglio’s success is not only due to the fact that he has mastered the sparkling wine production, but also due to the fact that he has no competition on the Balkans. And though many winemakers might feel discouraged, they should in fact strive to come closer to his achievmements.
Following world wine trends and styles is somewhat of a must when it comes to being a part of the wine world. Being a good enologist is not only about knowing to tame the tannins, get that gripping acidity at a just level, it’s also about being “fashionable”.The young and talented Mladen Dragoljovic is the new wine guru- he has proved it many times before at Decanter, competition and so on. Not to mention that the wine that won the White Wine Trophy is also his work.

The other winners are the following:

White wine Trophy
Serbia, Podrum Janko, white, Sauvignon Blanc 100%, Vrtlog 2013
Red wine Trophy
Serbia, Matalj Winery, red, Kremen Karmen Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Rose Wine Trophy
Bulgaria, Uva Nestum, rose, Syrah, Uva Nestum Rose 2014
Sparkling wine Trophy
Bulgaria, Edoardo Miroglio,sparkling, Pinot Noir & Chardonnay Special Edition 2005
Sweet Wine Trophy
Romania, Cotnari, sweet, Grasa de Cotnari, Cotnari 1984
Best White Dry Wine from indigenous variety/ies
Greece, Sigalas, white, Assyrtiko 100%, Santorini Assyrtiko Barrel Sigalas 2014
Best Red Dry Wine from indigenous variety/ies
Greece, Monemvassia Winery, red, Agiorgitiko 70% & Mavroudi 30%, “300” Red 2006
Best Sweet Wine from indigenous variety/ies
Romania, Cotnari, sweet, Grasa de Cotnari, Cotnari 1984

For the second time this year, awards were given to the best wine label designs. Stefan Bozhkov, chairman of the commission, together with the members Emanuela Kovac and Emil Maslarski, has given his assessment of best wine label design. The Trophy is dedicated to the memory of the Bulgarian artist Kolio Karamfilov, who is the designer of the BIWC Grand Trophy.

Trophy for the best wine label design
Despotika Winery, family labels, Serbia
Gold medal
Villa Yustina, Bulgaria
Silver medals
Betterhalf, family labels, Bulgaria
33 Rajkovic, Serbia
Bronze medals
Avantis Estate, Greece
Crama Ratesti, Romania