9th BIWC 2020
9-11 September, Belgrade, Serbia
Balkans International Wine Competition

17-19 September, Sofia, Bulgaria
Balkans Wine Festival
9th BIWC 2020
9-11 September, Belgrade, Serbia
Balkans International Wine Competition

17-19 September, Sofia, Bulgaria
Balkans Wine Festival

// Judges 2020

home / Competition 2020 / Judges 2020

Konstantinos Lazarakis MW

BIWC Chairman, Greece
Konstantinos Lazarakis MW

After studying jazz guitar and mechanical engineering on the National & Technical University of Athens, I became Sommelier of Jajazzo Restaurant in Athens - the first restaurant in Greece to hire a full time sommelier and the first to be awarded a Michelin star.
Now I work as an Imports Manager and Wine Buyer in AIOLOS ltd and the Managing Director of Wine and Spirits Professional Consultants that run WSET courses in Greece.
In the last two years I have been involved in wine writing and wine journalism and I now write for four Greek publications as well as having 'Wines of Greece' published as a part of the Mitchell Beazley Classic Wine Library in Sept. 2005. In addition, I consult for wine producers, hotels and restaurants.

Count John Salvi MW

United Kingdom/ France
Count John Salvi MW

Count John Salvi is an English Master of Wine who has lived for the last 35 years in Bordeaux.  He is also an oenologist who studied under the famous Professor Peynaud at Bordeaux University.

After 40 years in the wine trade as negociant, shipper, wine-maker and professional taster, he now devotes his time to sharing his great knowledge with wine-lovers.  Apart from travelling extensively to the many vineyard areas of the world, where he is much in demand as judge, consultant and taster, he accompanies and guides the wine-tours of his wife Nellie Salvi’s company Vino Fino.  John lives in Margaux, in the Medoc, not five minutes from Chateau Margaux, and was involved with Chateau Palmer for 40 years.

he is a professional wine-writer and journalist, a member of the British Circle of Wine Writers, founder and committee member of the Federation Internationale des Journalistes et Ecrivains de Vin (Brussels), member of the Association Francaise des Jounalistes et Ecrivains de Vin (Paris), member of the Senior Livery of the Worshipful Company of Vintners (Great Britain), member of the Institute of Masters of Wine (London), and represents Great Britain at the International Union of Oenologists.

Passionate about food and wine, especially the marriage of food and wine without snobbery or mysticism, he is also a member of the French Institute of Gastronomy, The Association Française pour la Gastronomie et le Tourisme (Paris), and the Association des Informateurs et Chroniqueurs dans le Domaine de la Gastronomie et du Vin (APCIG, Paris).

Lynne Coyle MW

Ireland
Lynne Coyle MW

Lynne Coyle MW passed the Master of Wine in 2015 and is currently Wine Director at retailer and importer, O'Briens Wines in Dublin, Ireland. With over thirty years working in the wine industry, her experience spans retail, the on-trade, wine marketing and wine buying both in the UK & Ireland with Seagram & Diageo. Lynne gained her Master of Wine qualification in 2015 and has consulted for wineries in Chile, Spain and Italy. Along with judging at wine competitions, Lynne makes regular TV appearances and is a WSET educator. In 2019 Lynne co-founded the trade networking group Wine Spirit Women and most recently embarked on a joint winemaking project with Tandem Winery in Navarra, Spain, launching her own brand Rós, a wild ferment rosé Garnacha.

Rod Smith MW

United Kingdom/ France
Rod Smith MW

Rod Smith MW is a wine educator, marketer and salesman, based in the South of France. Currently with a client list that includes the world’s wealthiest, most discerning and demanding customers, Rod is the wine director of Vins Sans Frontières – the leading wine supplier to the superyacht industry.

Prior to this, Rod has worked in the UK for a variety of fine wine importers and retailers, as well as being an established WSET educator and occasional journalist. A Master of Wine since 2006, Rod has been extensively involved in judging wine competitions in London, Shanghai and Moscow.

Rod’s personal interests include cycling, running, travel, literature, card magic and film.

Andreas Wickhoff MW

Austria
Andreas Wickhoff MW

Commencing with vintage 2016, Andreas Wickhoff MW has been General Manager at Weingut Bründlmayer in Austria's Kamptal and oversees, along with Willi Bründlmayer, all operations for the estate. Before that, he was for many years managing director for a group of premium wineries from Austria. Ahead of establishing the association in 2004, he worked as a sommelier and wine buyer in Corsica, France and Vail, CO, USA. Andreas is a graduate of the College of Tourism and Hotel Management in Bad Gleichenberg, Austria, and completed a degree in Food & Hospitality Management at Martin College in Brisbane, AUS. Upon receiving his Master of Wine title in 2012, Andreas won four awards for excellence in particular areas of the exam.

Paul Robert Blom

The Netherlands
Paul Robert Blom

Paul Robert Blom is born in Amsterdam-Holland in a family of merchants and  raised in Overveen near Haarlem. After two years in top Gastronomy, in September 1965 he joined the sales-force of Schermer, Wine-merchants since 1782. He discovered a growing interest in the Amsterdam wine scene in ‘other’ wines than French, resulting in launching of wines from Croatia in 1969 to a fast expending number of Grill Restaurants all over Holland. The assortment grew automatically to over 30 wines from all South Eastern Europe

Their company Schermer is an independent distiller & wine importer since 1782 and is housed in Hoorn. The company imports a wide range of wines from self bottling producers around the world, with a special interest in autochthon grape varieties and less well-known wine countries and wine regions.  Specialised in Classic and Mediterranean Europe. In 2002 the Schermer company was rewarded ‘Supplier to the Dutch royal court’ by her Royal Majesty the Queen Beatrix.

From 1978 until 2009 Paul Robert was a lector at the Wine Academy for Central Europe. Since 1978 he is a member of the Wine Academy Examination Board. In 2008  Blom received the award of ‘Register Vinoloog of the Wijnacademie HONORIS CAUSA - Third person in Holland ever to receive this award.

Svetoslav Manolev MS

Bulgaria/ UK
Svetoslav Manolev MS

Svetoslav brings over a decade of specialist wine experience from some of the finest establishments in London including Assistant Head Sommelier at 67 Pall Mall, widely considered one of the top wine members’ club in the world. Prior to this, he has held positions at COYA Mayfair and Park Chinois. In August 2019 Svetoslav became the first Bulgarian Master Sommelier.

Currently as a Head Sommelier at Ormer Mayfair’, Svetoslav works closely alongside Michelin star-awarded chef Shaun Rankin and Head Chef Kerth Gumbs and is responsible for the operational management of all wines within the restaurant and hotel, including Manetta’s bar.

Dimtar Nikolov

Bulgaria
Dimtar Nikolov

Dimitar Nikolov has 15 years’ experience in the wine industry as a sommelier, wine buyer, wine judge, wine writer and educator.

Starting his career as a sommelier for a major hotel chain and at a restaurant in Chicago, Nikolov then returned to his native Bulgaria to work for Metro Cash & Carry, firstly as the wine buyer for Bulgaria, and then was promoted to category manager for Metro Cash & Carry’s entire Russian Federation operations, which saw him move to Russia. After five years with the company, Nikolov was appointed to a top management position at a wine importer specializing in Hungarian wines.

Upon returning to Bulgaria, he created apollowine.com, online wine shop where he offers a selection of wines from Bulgaria, Balkans and the rest of the wine world. He holds qualifications from the ISG Chicago, the WSET Level 3 certificate, and is currently studying for the WSET Level 4 he Diploma. He is the co-founder of Wine and Spirits Academy Bulgaria (WSAB) located in Sofia, Bulgaria where he is teaching WSET courses. 

He is International wine judge who specialises in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), which helped him to get invited as the only judge from Bulgaria in the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards competition in London for the last 10 years. He is also regularly, part of the judging panel at the most influential and prestigious Mundus Vini in Germany. He has been part of the Balkan International Wine Competition judging panel for two times.

Maria Sofia Dare Biancolin

Germany/ Italy
Maria Sofia Dare Biancolin

Maria Sofia Dare Biancolin deals with wine more than 23 years. As a manager in Italy, Australia and South Africa, she promotes the Italian food and wine, especially in Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.

Since 2006, Sofia is a chairwoman of DE.S.A. GERMANY - organization of sommeliers that unites all Italian professional and amateur sommeliers, both in Germany and in other European countries.

Thanks to the many business trips, Sofia has developed a great talent for analyzing foreign markets and cultures, to prepare successful strategic marketing plans in terms of price, product, promotion and positioning in different markets.

DE.SA cooperate with the most important marketing agencies in Germany.

Joel Rochard

France
Joel Rochard

Joël Rochard is an agricultural engineer and oenologist. In parallel to his research activity, he is also a winegrower in Champagne. After working for the Champagne Committee, he created in 1997 the national sustainable development centre of the Institut Français de la Vigne et du Vin (French Vine and Wine Institute). As an expert for the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), he regularly gives lectures in many wine-producing countries and participates in various international training courses.

A specialist in sparkling wines, he has published several books on winemaking and tasting. He has also published several books on terroirs, landscapes and the application of sustainable development in the world. He is a regular contributor as a journalist to various technical journals, particularly on themes related to sustainable development: biodiversity, climate change adaptation, greenhouse effect reduction, eco-design of cellars and the heritage of the wine sector. He regularly participates in various international wine tasting competitions. 

Đurđa Katić

Serbia
Đurđa Katić

Đurđa Katić started a PhD in Viticulture and Wine in 2017. She is a graduate in Marketing and Management in Marketing from Cambridge Business Academy.

She is an advanced level sommelier with numbers of  prizes from various Sommelier Championships and a member of the Marketing Board of ASI (World Sommelier Association). From 2013 to 2017 she has worked as a consultant in Plantaze 13 jul. - Montenegro, Imperator and Aleksic – Serbia.

Founder and manager in WineLady Co. – wine trade and consulting. Judge at numerous international wine competitions. Member of a National wine tasting commission since 2011.

Horia Hasnas

Romania
Horia Hasnas

Journalist starting with 1993, Horia has worked in a variety of roles, mainly in newspapers but also in television, as a reporter, editor, columnist and commentator. His journey through the wine world started in a natural manner: as wine lover and collector. His love for written stories and also for fine wines led him to the decision of starting a wine blog named “Vindinpresa” but the decisive step was made in January 2011 when he got his break as a wine writer - editor of “Vinul.Ro” magazine, which is the main publication in Romania dedicated to wine, wine producers and wine-savvy readers. Playing the editorial role by pairing suggestions and culinary trends, showcasing wine as an indispensable companion at the table, probing interviews and critical reviews he gain an extensive expertise by regularly participating in wine-tasting, national and international wine fairs and festivals and being member of wine-juries.

Ivana Simjanovska

North Macedonia
Ivana Simjanovska

Ivana has been part of the wine trade since 2007, beginning as one of the co-founders and members of the board of the first Macedonian Wine Club, organizing wine tasting events and promoting wine culture in Macedonia, followed by co-authoring and publishing of the first Macedonian Wine Guide 2011 along with Dave Vlam and the second edition of MWG 2014 with Paul Caputo.

Today, Ivana is an international wine writer, critic and wine judge, having participated at some of the most prestigious wine competitions in Europe. She has also lectured on specialised subjects promoting Macedonian wines at numerous wine festivals and fairs throughout Europe.

Along with contributing to several magazines and wine publications she is also editor-in-chief of www.vino.mk, Macedonia's first online wine magazine, is a #winelover ambassador and works as Wine Tourism Specialist at Macedonia Experience. Ivana maintains a personal blog www.ivanasimjanovska.com and as of 2013 has been pursuing her Masters Degree in Enology at the Insitute of Agriculture in Skopje.

Tomislav Ivanovic

Serbia
Tomislav Ivanovic

Tomislav Ivanovic is a WSET3 certified wine writer, wine critic and contributor to selected printed and online wine magazines. Author and editor-in-chief of website www.vinopedia.rs. Juror in national and international wine competitions. Lecturing about wines of Serbia and the Balkans. Local partner of Wine Mosaic organization. Co-founder of International Prokupac Day. Winner of Millesima Blog Award 2016, finalist of Born Digital Blog Award 2018, Wine Personality of the Year 2016 in Serbia.  

Evangelos Beris, Ph.D.

Greece
Evangelos Beris, Ph.D.

Evangelos Beris holds a Ph.D. in Viticulture, M.Sc. in Biology and WSET Advanced. Since 2014, he is teaching as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Oenology & Beverage Technology of Athens University of Applied Sciences (TEI of Athens), both at the Under-graduate course (B.Sc., in Oenology & Beverage Technology) and the Post-graduate programme (M.Sc., in Wine and Beer Science).

He is the Director of the study programme: “Viticulture & Oenology” at IEK Praxis in Athens. Moreover, he has been working for several years as a Seminar Instructor and a Consultant of Viticulture, Wine Production and Wine Tourism. He has recently been consulting and collaborating with Estate Argyros (Santorini - Greece).

Sasa Spiranec

Croatia
Sasa Spiranec

Sasa Spiranec works in Vinart d.o.o., a consultant company which publishes wine and food editions, keeps wine educations, writes as a freelancer for different journals and magazines and organizes three wine festivals: “Vinart Grand Tasting” in Zagreb, “Dalmacija Wine Expo” in Split  and “Vinski Grad” in Varaždin, creates different projects in wine marketing and organizes wine events. Partner in Vinolab d.o.o., laboratory for wine analyses.

In wine trade since 1995. Since 2005 Sasa is writing wine guides and books, appears regularly in daily Jutarnji List and several monthly magazines. Judging international wine competitions as IWC London (UK), Concours Mondial de Bruxelles (Belgium), BIWC in Sofia (Bulgaria), IWCB Bucharest (Romania), VTV Belgrade (Serbia), Vinistra in Croatia. Keeps classes and masterclasses on wine with a focus on wine regions of Central and Eastern Europe.

Bartolomeo Roberto Lepori

Italy
Bartolomeo Roberto Lepori

Bartolomeo Roberto Lepori is a Food and wine journalist for various trade magazines and TV-Network.

Sommelier Masterclass from the Italian Sommelier Association. 

International Wine Judge. Member of Enoclub Siena and speaker of the "Sangiovese Purosangue Event”. Relator at the "Inycon Wine Festival" - Menfi (Sicily). 

Wine Educator and Food and Wine Specialist Communicator in various International Conferences and Wine Ceremonies. Editor of the "Wines from Extreme Lands" guide;

Dashamir Elezi

Albania
Dashamir Elezi

Dashamir Elezi holds a Master in Civil and Trade Right. He is a Master Sommelier since 2003 and President of Albanian Sommeliers Association. Member of International Jury of contest ‘’Best Italian Sommelier ASPI’’ - Milano November 2017, Member of Jury of the Albanian Wine Contest 2014, Member of International Jury of European Sommeliers Contest organized to Sanremo-Montecarlo 2013, Member of International Jury in the World Contest of Sommeliers - Tokio 2013. Since 2015 he is cofounder and CEO of Wine shpk company. 

Dashamir holds a license from Ministry of Work and Social Affair for professional training for sommeliers and winemakers.

Vesna Marash

Montenegro
Vesna Marash

Prof. dr Vesna Maras finished her doctoral dissertation entitled "Ampelographic characteristics of the variety of the grapevine cultivar in Montenegro" at the Faculty of Agriculture in Belgrade in 2000 and completed her postdoctoral studies in the field of viticulture in 2017 (ICVV, Logroño, La Rioha, Spain). From 1992 to 2004 she was working at the Agricultural Institute in Podgorica, today's Biotechnical Faculty (University of Montenegro). She has published about 100 scientific and professional papers in international and national journals. She has directed and participated in numerous national and international projects. She was one of the organiser of the First International Conference on Vranac and other Montenegrin autochthonous varieties in 2017 in Podgorica. 

Since 2004, she has been the Director of Development in the company 13. Jul Plantaze, the leader in grape and wine production in Montenegro but in region also. Authorized wine taster on the list of wine tasters of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Montenegro, judge at prestigious wine competitions.

Martin Smid

Czech Republic
Martin Smid

For the past eighteen years Martin has been working as a Head Sommelier and lately Business manager for Znovín Znojmo winery in the Czech Republic, located in the Znojmo wine region. 

He graduated at the high school of  Technology in the field of beer, wine and spirit production (Czech Republic).

He finished WSET ( Wine and Spirit Education Trust, London ) on the level  “Diploma in wines and spirits” and gained the “Weinakademiker“ grade at Weinakademie Österreich in Austria. He is a holder of International taster certificate (ISO) and an experienced wine-taster. Martin took part in competitions in the Czech Republic as well as International competitions,

Mehmet Emin Türkat

Turkey
Mehmet Emin Türkat

Mehmet Emin Türkat DipWSET is a wine merchant in Turkey. He is running his own wholesale company, Matara Wine Cellar, since 2012. Matara market and sell wines of the prominent Turkish wineries as well as import fine wines throughout the Aegean Region of Turkey.

He is the founder of the Aegean Wine & Spirits Ademy, an institution to study wine. Mehmet is engaged in wine educations, trainings, wine tastings and event management in the academy.

Together with his enthusiastic friends, he is also one of the founding members of the Turkish Society of Wine Experts & Educators. In addition to these occupations, he is a full time judge in the International Wine Challenge and judged twice in the Thessaloniki International Wine Competition as well.

Fabiola G. Rios

Mexico/ Czech Republic
Fabiola G. Rios

Co-founder of Czech-Mexican Chamber of commerce, focusing on the trading area, one of the main interests of Fabiola G. Rios is to promote the wines & spirits from Central Eastern Europe in her home country Mexico and facilitate future business relationships between wine makers a potential distributor in Latin America.

As well she is a Business Director of an International top Digital marketing agency. Since last year she is an official Mexican wine ambassador for Europe, an honor granted by the Consejo Vitivinicola Mexicano.

Fabiola is Sommelier certified, member of the Czech sommelier association in Prague and Certified by WSET Level 2 & 3. Also has extensive experience on spirits tasting: Tequila & Mezcal, Vodka, Rom.

She is a certified expert specialized in sensorial analysis for virgin Olive oils as well. In her career Fabiola has been a judge in several International wine competitions around the world for several years.

Aleksandar Matejic

Serbia
Aleksandar Matejic

Alexander Matejic DipWSET has been working in the wine industry from 2002. 

The journey has started in France with an Italian wine importer to be then continued in 2004 in Serbia when establishing his own company importing French and Italian wines.

Then followed in 2007 the opening of the first autenthic wine bar in Belgrade, marking the big evolution on the market and introducing always new producers and new wine trends.

With the idea of improving his knowledge Alex subscribed WSET London School and get his Diploma.

From 2016 Belgrade Wine School educates professionals and amateurs, helping the rise of the wine culture in Serbia. 

Apart teaching, brand promoting and organizing tastings, Alex consults for small new wineries in order to help them to establish a business, make wine and find a place on the market.

Uroš Bolčina

Slovenia
Uroš Bolčina

Uroš Bolčina is an internationally experienced consultant winemaker currently working with different wineries in Slovenia and Serbia. Taking his profession as a passion and hobby, he  started to work in wine as a student at the Biotechnical University and Wine Institute in Ljubljana and taking part in research work. He did part of his wine studies at ESA, Angers, France. After achieving university degree in food technology/specialized in winemaking, he started to travel the World for winemaking experiences. He gained experiences in renowned wineries in Chile, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, Hungary(Tokay). After settling back to the homeland, he started to consult different wineries that with his help  gained reputation and the highest possible awards on well-known wine competitions.

Being positively oriented, passionate about traveling and discovering new things, cultures, food, he does regularly visit different wine events and countries around the World. Being very much into modern natural winemaking, organic and biodynamic he is developing new techniques and styles of wines for his clients.

Being fluent in six foreign languages, achieving Advanced certificate at WSET and always looking for new life challenges and learning, he did take part in many World-wide wine competitions as a wine judge.

Zvonko Herceg

North Macedonia
Zvonko Herceg

Zvonko Herceg Dip.WSET has started his career in wine and spirit trade since 1995 managing his wholesale company for more than twenty years. During the last decade, his focus was on the promotion of the domestic wine region arising the need for wine education, when he has started parallel education of the wine market, nowadays working as a WSET Educator in the educational body Wine Educator.

As a President of Macedonian Association of Sommeliers – MASOM he initiated wine events Ohrid Wine Terraces and GrandVin, as well a numerous sommelier training, workshops and masterclasses.

He has international experience from two wine competitions: The International Wine Challenge (IWC) in London and Berliner Wein Trophy in Berlin.

His wine reviews and critiques can be read on the WeinHerz blog as part of the terroir.vip portal where he is the editor in chief.

Michaela Kapickova

Czech Republic
Michaela Kapickova

Michaela Kapickova comes from Moravia wine region in Czech Republic, where she also started her university studies in Viticulture and Oenology at Mendel University. Then she continued at Hochschule Geisenheim in Germany with programme VITIS VINUM and she achieved WSET Level 3 Award in Wines at Weinakademie Österreich last year.

While working in company Altumare she managed to combine her passion for wine and sailing and she came up with tailor-made culinary programmes on board of sailing yachts focusing on local gastronomy and wine pairing. Michaela also writes articles about gastronomy and wine for Czech Yacht / Wine & Degustation magazine for more than 6 years now.

As a CEO of company Ave Vinum, she came up with many new ideas – more or less successful. However, one of the most interesting ideas were tastings in sign language. At the moment is Michaela working for Möet Hennessy Czech Republic and she hopes that she will set sail for WSET Diploma soon.

 

Róbert Csévári

Serbia
Róbert Csévári

Born in 1977. Living in a small town Temerin, near Novi Sad. Working as a lawyer 17 years. 7 years in the wine world as a: sommelier, wine judge, taster, educator. Vice president of the Sommelier Association of Vojvodina. Associate of the wine magazine '''Vino & Fino''.

Katia Ioncheva

Bulgaria
Katia Ioncheva

Katia Iontcheva has a Master's degree in Economics from the University of National and World Economy and in Oenology from University of Food Technologies. She holds WSET Diploma. At the moment she studies at the Institute of Masters of Wine. In 1999 she started working for the biggest Bulgarian industrial winery at that time. Four years later she became one of the first importers of wine in Bulgaria, and for a long time the only one importing from South Africa. Later on, she added to her portfolio wines from Spain, Chile and Argentina. She is a wine judge at prestigious wine competitions in Bulgaria and abroad. As of 2012 she is one of the founders and authors of the annual wine guide and she is also part of the tasting team, evaluating about one thousand wines each year. She believes that only the joint work of wine professionals will lead to the promotion of Bulgarian wineworldwide. Her passion for wine has taken her along wine routes across all continents.

Vihren Velkov

Bulgaria
Vihren Velkov

Vihren Velkov started dealing with wine 11 years ago. As in 2012 at the regional Competition for sommeliers he was ranked first. In the same year he became the Sommelier of Bulgaria. 2013 he appeared at the European Championships in Saint Tropez. In 2019 he took the first level of the Prestigious Court of Master of Master Sommelier in London with a plan to continue on. He has been a member of the jury at the Concour World Cup for 5 years. He has been working in the restaurant industry for more than 27 years now.