The Balkans International
Wine Competition
Sofia 26 - 29 May 2016
The Balkans International<br />
Wine Competition<br />
Sofia 26 - 29 May 2016

// Judges 2016

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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.

Robin Kick MW

USA
Robin Kick MW

Originally from the Chicago area, Robin is presently based in Lugano, Switzerland where she is working as an independent wine consultant, wine judge and educator. Following studies in French and English literature, she changed career paths in 1998 when she left her teaching position to study wine at the Université du Vin in Suze-la-Rousse in France’'s Rhône Valley. She then worked as a wine specialist at Christie'’s auction house in Los Angeles, California for numerous years before returning to Europe where she lived for ten years in London, spending seven of them as a fine wine buyer. In 2014, she became a Master of Wine. Her greatest wine passions are Burgundy, Barolo, Côte-Rôtie, German Riesling and Madeira. Robin’'s free time is spent planning her next travel adventure, cooking and learning Italian.

Kenichi Ohashi MW

Japan
Kenichi Ohashi MW

Ken is the most active wine & sake expert in Japan. Born in Tochigi Prefecture, he is the third generation owner of Yamajin Co., Ltd. (a distributor specialised in wine, sake and local spirits). Ken also has his own consultancy company, Red Bridge Co., Ltd. Ken is very active in the wine and sake world both at home and abroad. In addition to these roles he also assumes the post of director of Somersault Co., Ltd., the biggest business group of liquor retailers in Japan. In recent years, he is continuing to contribute to the global sake promotion, as a sake chairman of the International Wine Challenge (the biggest sake judging panel outside Japan) and as an official sake instructor of Sake Samurai Society.

After completing his Diploma in 2006 (the highly regarded qualification of Wine and Spirit Education Trust- WSET), Ken is also awarded the Master of Wine in 2015(one of the most challenging qualifications to obtain in the Wine Industry with only 340 members). In the field of Sake, he holds Sake Expert Assessor, the highest qualificationof National Research Institute of Brewing Japan, and the title of Master of Sake from Sake Service Institute. Few in this global industry have such an in depth knowledge and expert tasting ability for both wine and sake. As such his consultancy services are in great demand.

Yiannis Karakasis MW

Greece
Yiannis Karakasis MW

Yiannis Karakasis MW was born in Athens, Greece. He graduated from the Hellenic Naval Academy as an Ensign and thereafter served in various warships, having flown 2.000 flying hours as a pilot, instructor and test-pilot with AB-212 navy helicopters. He retired as a Commander in 2011 to pursue his passion for wine.

Yiannis became a Master of Wine in 2015 and he is a wine consultant, educator, co-founder of the highly influencing in Greece www.winecommanders.com blog sharing his passion and enthusiasm for Greek wines. He is a judge for Decanter and also contributes for international magazines and websites. His greatest wine passions are pre-phylloxera wines, Pinot Noir wines, Barolo, mature Santorini and Naoussa wines and of course Tokaji.

Saša Špiranec

Croatia
Saša Špiranec

Saša Špiranec works  in Vinart d.o.o., consultant company who publish wine and food editions, keep wine educations, freelance in different journals and magazines, organize leading Dalmatian wine event – Dalmacija Wine Expo, create different projects in wine marketing and organize wine events. Head of Vinolab d.o.o., laboratory for wine analyses.

Born 1970. In wine trade since 1995. Since 2005. 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), and many local in Croatia. Keeps classes and masterclasses on wine with a focus on wine regions of Central and Eastern Europe. 

Vili Galabova

Bulgaria
Vili Galabova

Villy Galabova is one of the best wine experts in Bulgaria. She is a manager of Vino Aqua Vita Bulgaria and one of the founders of the Bulgarian Wine Academy. 15 years and more of experience and expertise in the wine industry. Specialist with an international experience and recognition, and the first Bulgarian to receive education in the most prestigious educational institution in the world – The London Institute of Masters of Wine. She is the first and so far the only Bulgarian an international wine judge at the International Wine and Spirit competition.

Igor Luković

Serbia
Igor Luković

Igor Luković is a wine critic, writer and journalist from Serbia, who has worked with wine and wine culture since 2003. He is Editor in chief in “Vino & Fino” magazine,  and associate of many other media dealing with wine and food culture.

At the same time, he is President of  the Sommelier Association of Vojvodina and CEO of the Serbian Sommelier Association. Actively is engaged in wine education, trainings, consulting and event managing, and as a  judge on the wine tastings. He works and lives between Belgrade and Novi Sad.

His beginnings in the wine business areas owner and Editor of “Gurman” and “Gastro Svet” magazines, and subsequently became General Manager of the company “Vinodrom”, engaged in importing and distributing wine.

Burcak Desombre

Turkey/France
Burcak Desombre

Burçak Desombre is a Turkish/French Sommelier, first woman who participated and won a Prize at Turkish Sommeliers Competition in 2010.

She holds WSET Advanced Certificate with Distinction and currently studies WSET Diploma. She is the first certified Sommelier of Turkey by Court of Masters Sommeliers. Also a member of Chaine des Rotisseurs and Ordre Mondial des Gourmets Dégustateurs as Vice-Echanson, Desombre works as a consultant sommelier and organises wine tastings, gourmet dinner as well as gourmet and wine tasting tours in Turkey and abroad at Vinipedia Wine Consultancy, that she founded in 2011.

Alessandro Griccioli

Italy
Alessandro Griccioli

Alessandro Griccioli is part of an old traditional wine family from Tuscany; as young traditionalist with an innovative edge, he promotes his Chianti-based winery Tenuta di Montechiaro with the vision of legacy for the future.
BA in environmental economics, MBA in Wine Marketing and Management at the Bordeaux Wine Institute, he's also a Professional Sommelier certified by AIS (Italian Sommelier Association) since 2005 and Official Taster certified by AIS since 2006; he's also a professional Taster of extra Virgin olive oil.
"I've been producing boutique wines from my estate since 2005, and as professional Sommelier, I know how important is to taste as much wines as possible with enthusiasm and attitude!”

Ivana Simjanovska

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.

Horia Hasnas

Romania
Horia Hasnas

Journalist starting with 1993, he 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.

Djurdja Katic

Serbia
Djurdja Katic

Djurdja is graduated at college for winemaking in Novi Sad. Was best sommelier of Serbia for 2008 and 2010. Since 2012 she is Vice President of Serbian sommelier association and wine trainer in sommelier school in Serbia. In 2011 she become regular member of Serbian national wine tasting commission. Do regular wine tasting in Serbia and abroad since 2009.

Julia Kostadinova

Bulgaria
Julia Kostadinova

Julia Kostadinova is editor-in-chief of DiVino.bg, a wine taster with many years of experience, and a member of a number of international tasting commissions. Wine editor of Bacchus Magazine from its founding until 2009. Co-creator of the competition 'Bulgarian Wine of the Year'. Covers Bulgaria, Greece, Chile and Argentina on tastings of DiVino.

Lin Gold

Israel
Lin Gold

Lin graduated as Bachelor of Science – Biology in the University of Haifa/Israeland Master of Oenology in the University of Adelaide/Australia. She has an experience as a Vintage Winemaker in West Australian Winery. For the last couple of years she is a Head Winemaker & Viticultural Directorin apioneer wineryin Israel. Lin has an extensive experience as a professional wine taster in a Descriptive Analysis Panels, Wine Judge in local and global wine competitions.