Voted as the third best Syrah in the world at the Syrah du Monde wine competition held in France this year, this Syrah by Chateau Kamnik has once again proved that the wines coming from this winery are a dedication to their strive for perfection. The winemaking is entrusted to Sandra Krstevska, the winery’s winemaker, while the consultancy has been led by Goran Milanov, the leading Macedonian wine consultant, enologist and a winemaker guru.
Popova Kula is one of the very few wineries dedicated to growing indigenous and regional grape varieties. Prokupec is the pride of Serbia, also Serbia being the country of origin. Ekaterina Gargova, the winemaker that signs this wine, traveled to Serbia on few occasions to understand (and learn) why the Serbians have mastered the art of making fine refined samples of Prokupec. Ekaterina, and her right hand at the time, Marina Krstevska, have made an exceptional Prokupec proudly presenting the potential that this wine has in a sunshine country like Macedonia. The price of 330 MKD makes it attractive for wine consumers & winelovers.
This Traminec is fragrant with aromas of white flowers, honey, citrus and lime. The taste is rich, revealing a combination of more white flowers like lily of the valley and rose petals as well as sugar crystal notes. Refreshing acidity and prolonged aftertaste. For a price of 300 MKD this Traminec has a lot to offer during the summer days, the autumn days and all the other days.
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 Vinul.ro 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
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
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
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
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- A Wine Journey in Israel
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:
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.
As 2015 harvest has officially began in Macedonia, this text should be about nothing else than Macedonian wines, the grapes, the state of the vineyards, the ongoing harvest, …And in the forthcoming days, it will be so. However, these lines are about an enjoyable day spent tasting some of the best champagnes to celebrate the beginning, of what seems to be, an excellent vintage.
Somewhere between the destemming, pressing and filling the tanks at Chateau Kamnik winery (one of the three wineries in Skopje where I do my practice), we tasted some fine champagnes among them 2006 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut Millesime, Krug Grand Cuvée Brut and Taittinger 2005 Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut. My list that follows and order of the Champagnes is according to my preference.
Taittinger 2005 Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut
Taittinger is one of the oldest Champagne houses based in Reims in France. The winery, after a recent tumultuous ownership history, is now again back in the hands of the Taittinger family. In their possession they have 288 hectares of prime vineyards and produces 5 million bottles annually. The vineyards in this region, Côtes de Bar, are one of the most expensive in the world with a staggering price of 1.8 million Euros a hectare.
Taittinger 2005 Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs Brut was a pure enjoyment for all senses. Beginning as intriguing as all that followed later on. Almonds, lilies, and just hints of citrus and toasty notes on the nose. Multi layered and equally rich taste with creamy nuances, white peach tones, more toastiness and balanced and crispy acidity. Silky texture that revealed elegant nutty notes with additional hints of vanilla. Absolutely lovely & amazing aging potential!! Silkiness is the only word that I would use to describe this Champagne in just one single word.
Krug Grand Cuvée Brut
Krug is also one of the better known Champagne houses primarily based in Reims, France. Though it is owned by the LVMH Moët Hennessy • Louis Vuitton S.E. conglomerate, the Krug family is still involved in the wineries’ future, though less in the every day winemaking processes.
Krug Grand Cuvée Brut is a blend of 120 wines from a selection of 10 or more vintages and different vineyards, re-created on yearly basis. I’ve founded it classy, quite fresh and balanced. Lovely freshness on the nose, followed by abundance of herbal and fine toasty notes. Good structure, rich and complex taste and though the acidity was quite present, it was well balanced.
2006 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut Millesime
Louis Roederer is just another Champagne chouse based in Reims, Champagne and unlike the other two above mentioned, it remains until today as one of the only independent family-run house. The winery is in possession of 240 hectares located in three main growing zones in Champagne, the Montagne de Reims, the Vallée de la Marne, and the Côte des Blancs. Yearly, around 3.5 million of bottles of Loiuis Roederer Champagne are sold from the winery to more than 100 countries.
2006 Louis Roederer Cristal Brut Millesime was maybe the freshest of all the champagnes we tasted, but quite boisterous in crisp acidity (no need to mention a balanced one). Some fine citrusy and apple notes and just hints of tangerine on the nose. The taste follows the nose and is equally rich in agrumes and good minerality, though not over-accentuated. I would leave this Champagne in the cellar for some time more to age slowly and in a good direction.
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, vino.rs 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
Villa Yustina, Bulgaria
Betterhalf, family labels, Bulgaria
33 Rajkovic, Serbia
Avantis Estate, Greece
Crama Ratesti, Romania