Premiile de Excelenta 2015, Bucharest, Romania

Sometimes I don’t stop travelling for weeks due to wine reasons and this year was no different. This November proved rather busier month than usual…
For the second time I received an invitation to judge at Premiile de Excelenta 2015, this year held in Bucharest, in addition to be appointed a president of my panel.

About the Competition
The Premiile de Excelenta, organised by the leading wine magazine in the country, took place over the course of two days (4th & 5th Nov) at the Tasting Room by Ethic Wine, having a wine shop bearing the same name just on the very same corner where the tasting room is located.
We got to judge wines in different categories, Romanian and international ones, all of them  divided according to the style of the wine, pertaining to the retail or HoReCa sector, as well as the price range.

After a two day wine tasting sessions, the following wines were awarded as the best each in a different category:

Best HORECA Wine from an indigenous Romanian grape variety
Gold Medals
Fetească neagră Divinitas 2013, Viile Sudului,
Experience (Fetească albă + Tămâioasă românească) 2014– Ecoferm (Grup Cris Tim)

Tămâioasă românească Colocviu la Roma 2014, Casa de Vinuri Cotnari
Best Retail Wine from and indigenous Romanian grape variety
Gold Medal
Busuioacă de Bohotin dulce 2012, Crama Basilescu

Best Wine from both an indigenous Romanian as well as international varieties
Merlot Private Selection 2013 by Liliac Winery

Gold Medals
Cuvee IX 2012, LacertA
Cabernet Sauvignon + Merlot 2011, Cuvee Tanc 6, WineRo
Cabernet Sauvignon 2012, Crama Răteşti
Cabernet Sauvignon Origini 2012, Budureasca
Merlot + Cabernet Sauvignon + Fetească neagră 2011, Tanc 3, WineRo
Shiraz Origini 2013, Budureasca
Origini Reserve 2013, Budureasca
La Muşat 2012, Budureasca pentru Crama Muşat
Cabernet Sauvignon 2013, Crama Răteşti
Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Budana 2, Licorna Winehouse
Fume Premium 2014, Budureasca
Primordial Chardonnay + Sauvignon Blanc + Muscat Ottonel 2014, Domeniile Bogdan
Sauvignon Blanc Hermeziu 2014, Domeniile Lungu
Merlot + Cabernet Sauvignon + Fetească Neagră Domeniile Ostrov Grand Reserve 2011, Ostrovit
Cuvee Nicolae Red 2013, Domeniile Tohani
Noble 5 2013, Budureasca
Best Imported Wine
Gold Medals
Cabernet Sauvignon Ecos de Rulo Bisquertt 2010, AlmaTim
Chenin Blanc Douceur d’Octobre 2011, Vinexpert
Carmenere Cuvee Misiones de Rengo 2012, Vinexpert
Carmenere Ecos de Rulo Bisquertt 2010, AlmaTim
Faustino I Gran Reserva 2001, AlmaTim
Sauvignon Blanc Rimapere 2014, Vinexpert

For the full list of medal winners, please follow the link

The Romanian Wine Scene
Much to say really, and not only referring to the Romanian wines only. Having had the chance to attend a wine tasting organised by Smart Drinks, one of the best Romanian wine importers, I indulged myself in Champagne ( most notable for me was Besserat de Bellefon Cuvee Des Moines Brut Millesime 2002), attended a Barolo Master Class, and enjoyed some fine wines from Lebanon, Greece, …

The Romanian wine scene has been blooming for the past few years in regards to raising the bar of domestic wine culture- lots of wine tasting events being held regularly, many newly opened wine shops to supply the recently evolved Romanian palate with international labels, as well as to please the domestic and the visitor’s curiosity to explore the abundance of Romanian indigenous grape varieties.
For all those wine people coming from countries where their wine history had been written years, even centuries ago, this might not be a fact to be thrilled about but as I come from a wine country that has been (re)creating its wine history for the past decade or so, this is an important point of reference for comparison.

My Romanian Wine Highlights
Liliac Winery and their winning wine, Merlot Private Selection, deserved to be awarded the best Romanian Wine at Premiile de Excelenta 2015- much refined and elegant.

As always, I very much enjoy the complexity of the Feteasca Neagras and this year my favourites were the ones from Crama Basilescu ( Feteasca Neagra 2009), LacertA winery ( Feteasca Neagra 2012) and Feteasca Neagra 2013 by Domenile Sahateni.

Feteasca Regala Vine in Flames 2014 by Budureasca Winery, Feteasca Regala 2014 by Liliac Winery and Grasa de Cotnari Colocviu 2014 by CV Cotnari Winery were some of my white wine highlights from Romanian indigenous white varieties.

Quite an exceptional Shiraz Origini 2013 and Cabernet Sauvignon Origini 2012 by Budureasca Winery (again!).

Other noted wines and wineries- Busuioacă de Bohotin dulce 2012 by Crama Basilescu Winery, an excellent Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 by Cantea Winery ( Dealu Mare, Fintesti) and an intriguing Pinot Noir 2011 by LacertA winery



Terravino 2015, The Mediterranean International Wine & Spirit Challenge, Israel

Terravino- A Wine Journey in Israel

Following an invitation to judge at the 10th anniversary of Terravino 2015 in Israel, to be held in Netanya near Tel Aviv at the beautiful Ramada Hotel & Spa, I embraced the idea of dwelling in the Israeli wine scene for almost a week. In addition to taking place at the beautiful seaside resort, Netanya, not far from Tel Aviv, I was also looking forward to getting familiar with the Israeli wines so rare to find around the world.
About the competition
Terravino, The Mediterranean International Wine & Spirit Challenge celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. The idea of this international wine competition is without doubt to promote wines mostly from the Mediterranean wine scene as well as putting them against the Israeli ones for comparison on behalf of the hosts, for better learning, for better understanding of the upcoming Israeli wine scene.
The competition is a very rigorous one conducted under the patronage of the OIV where 46 international wine judges were scoring for three days. We tasted almost 400 samples from 20 countries around the world, according to the OIV rules. In total, 14 wines were given double gold medals of them six to Israeli wines, two went to Argentina, and one was awarded to Spain, the Czech Republic, Germany, Bolivia and Slovakia. Israel was awarded 69 medals in total, followed by Argentina and the Czech Republic (22 each), Spain (6), Slovakia (6), Australia, Portugal, Germany, Turkey, Serbia, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Greece. The medals were given in the following categories:
Grand Champion Trophy for the best wine in the Competition, which had the highest score awarded to Michlovsky Ryzlink Vlassky Vyber Z Bobuli 2009 by Vinselekt Michlovsky A.S. Winery from The Czech Republic
Israel’s Grand Champion Trophy for the best Israeli wine in the Competition awarded to Segal Rehasim Dishon Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 by Barkan Wine Cellars Marketing & Distribution Ltd.
Country champion, only for the countries with more than 25 wines participating in the contest
Best Category Price, the best wine in each category
The Best Kosher Israeli Wine awarded to Segal Rehasim Dishon Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 by Barkan Wine Cellars Marketing & Distribution Ltd.
The Best Israeli Small Boutique Wine awarded to 1848 Malbec – Fourth Generation 2013 by 1848 Winery
The Best Israeli Winemaker/s awarded to Barkan Wine Cellars Marketing & Distribution Ltd.
For a full list of the winners, please follow the link
Israel’s Wine Scene
Much to say regarding the wine scene in Israel though one thing struck me at first- their winemakers, especially the boutique wineries’ owners are eager to learn, apply the newest techniques in their wine cellars. without much waiting or hesitating regardless of their rather long/new wine tradition and history. Wine making in a country known for lots of sunshine and arid climate, is by itself a challenge. Black is by all means the colour trait of the country’s reds, some very fine elegant samples of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were noted, as well as lots of Bordeaux blends. Some of the most prominent wine producers, at least from what I’ve tasted, were Binyamina Winery, Barkan Wine Cellars, Teperberg Winery, Carmel Winery, Benhaim Winery, Galileo Winery, and of course, one of the biggest, Yarden Winery located in the Golan Heights.

During my wine trip to Israel, I’ve tasted quite a lot of Israeli wines but had a chance to visit only one winery, Vitkin, where I enjoyed some very refined red wines and quite elegant samples of Carignan, Cabernet Franc and Petite Syrah, in addition to a very spicy Rose’. This more or less gave me a picture on what to expect.

Macedonian Vranec Wine Tasting in Porta Ceasaria 
Upon an invitation of the organiser of the wine competition, Mr. Moshe Spak, I was honoured to be given the chance to do a tasting of Macedonian wines for the international wine judges. Without a doubt, I opted for the Vranec and chose the following ones- Vranec Barrique 2011 by Brusani Winery, Vranec 2011 Reserve by Popova Kula Winery, Vranec 2013 by Chateau Sopot Winery, Barovo Red 2012 by Tikves Winery and Terroir Vranec 2011 by Chateau Kamnik Winery. As much as to my surprise, the wine judges were even more eager to learn about Macedonia as a wine country, enjoyed their time spent with the Vranec and gave their true opinion on the quality of the Vranec samples. An increasing interest in visiting Macedonian wineries in near future followed suit…