Filling in the Blancs: Exotic Wine Travel

You know how most pilot episodes, books or articles are consisted of the author being crazily hyped up, having basically no idea what’s going on, but hoping that his “new thing“ will not fail miserably? Well folks, the first Filling in the Blancs had many candidates lined up, but I’d say this one initially struck the lotto. Matt and Charine are two young wine lovers who have decided to flip over the table and head on a quest of turning their passion for THE drink into a career and call it Exotic Wine Travel. It’s been a bumpy road through lesser-known regions, but step by step, winery after winery, they’re getting closer to their goal. So far, they’ve published two books – Travel Learn Earn: Let the World Be Your Guide to Freedom, as well as Uncorking the Caucasus: Wine from Turkey, Armenia, and Georgia and have appeared on JancisRobinson.com, Wine Folly, Future Travel and Wine Tourist Magazine. Continue reading “Filling in the Blancs: Exotic Wine Travel”

10 Great New Zealand Wines to Enjoy in 2017

New Zealand will always be that dream country everybody talks about in the pub after the fifth beer upon realising in what kind of shithole they live in. It stands by its lonesome self in the Pacific Ocean and stretches for 1,600 km from sub-tropical Northland to the world’s most southerly grape growing region Central Otago. It’s a country that’s not too cold and not too hot and it’s famous for iconic wines, LOTR scenery and nice job opportunities. Do you really need anything else?

On the 16th of January, just one day before Liberty Wines’ APT 2017, I attended the exciting Great New Zealand Wine Tasting held at Lindley Hall, London. If the wine flowed for one more day, I swear I’d put “attended a wine marathon” in my CV. At this event, 90+ wineries came to present their best selections, mainly led by Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Pinot Noir, but with some special gems as well (holla to the fans of Viognier & Malbec). Continue reading “10 Great New Zealand Wines to Enjoy in 2017”

Top 10 Wines @ Liberty Wines Annual Portfolio Tasting 2017

Getting a chance to attend the Annual Portfolio Tasting of Liberty Wines in London was a professional beauty in my agenda. The company was founded in 1997 by David Gleave MW as a start-up with just four people working as staff. Today, it employs 130 individuals and has an annual turnover of £45 million. With awards annually pouring in from IWC, Decanter and SWA (On-Trade Supplier of the Year, Merchant of the Year, Wine Educator of the Year…), I honestly don’t see the need to bore you further with data and statistics of what Liberty Wines is in the international market today.

The APT 2017 was held on the 17th of January in the fascinating Kia Oval cricket ground in South London. This is the chief event of the company and gives wine lovers a chance to taste over 600 wines, spirits, beers, ciders and olive oils from over 150 representatives. To be frank, I only tasted around 250 samples. I started off slow and focused on my writing, but after a few hours I figured out how time is soaring by without me trying anything French or Italian. Luckily, eight hours presented a perfect time period to keep me sane and awake (though a lil’ dehydrated), so I cherry-picked the most sophisticated examples in the last 60 minutes. Being a WSET Diploma student, I really can’t complain about the producers selected for this event, because everything I wanted to cover and rehearse for the upcoming Unit 3 exam was there – Barolo, Tuscany, Australia, Alsace, Bordeaux, Burgundy, South Africa, Rioja… Continue reading “Top 10 Wines @ Liberty Wines Annual Portfolio Tasting 2017”

Grape Nomad’s Top 10 Cellar Picks of 2016

When reviewing 2016, I can’t help but think only one thing – what a shitty year for the world. Alan Rickman, David Bowie and Leonard Cohen died, Donald Trump became president of the US, refugee crises overflowed the news, people still think that sweet wines are cheap rubbish that should solely be paired with poor life decisions. Oh well, at least true wine lovers have been drinking some nice stuff to drown their sorrows and enter 2017 in style, like Kanye West did at the MTV Awards a few years back. But before you go anywhere and start analyzing the trends of next year (which you probably won’t follow), allow me to introduce you to the first Grape Nomad annual recap! Here, you’ll read about MY highest rated wines of 2016, wines that have blown me away with their sexiness and helped me rethink the complexity of this business. Because I decided to discover Italy in detail this year, you’ll see that their wines are pretty dominant in the selection. As a side-note, these are not bottles necessarily released during the year, nor are the scores something you have to blindly follow. I urge you to explore, be open and enjoy whatever gems you find from these top 10 picks. Continue reading “Grape Nomad’s Top 10 Cellar Picks of 2016”

There’s Never a “Right Time” for Rosé

With certainty, I can say that most people who are reading this article do not think of rosé as their first option at dinner and there is a very good reason for this. It is well-known that some producers have the constant goal of throwing rosés onto the market because it’s chic now to have a meek wine and call it “an aperitif” for sipping by the pool without blacking out on the burning sun. But fortunately for us, everything has its positive side; you just have to make a hell of an effort to discover it. Continue reading “There’s Never a “Right Time” for Rosé”

Il Più Grande: The Art of Marchesi Antinori

The fact that every serious winelover knows at least one wine from this immense selection displays how big the Antinori brand actually is. Opened in 1385 (yes, you read it right), this winery developed its roots in beloved Florence (Tuscany, Italy) and is currently active in three other countries – Romania, Hungary and the US. However, it is most recognizable for its historic role of shaping one of the most famous Italian wine styles, the so-called Super Tuscans.

In 1971, Marchesi Antinori decided to stand up against Italian wine laws that allowed mixing white grape varieties with red, but forbade blending in international grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot (*facepalm*). He got stripped of his DOCG status, with the Italian government laughing in his face and assigning him the vino da tavola label (table wine, the lowest rank you can get in Italy). Our young hero did not wither and soon received a reward for this brave act – a recognition in the US press as a rebel with a cause. Today, his Tignanello for example, has a mere IGT status (regional wine), even though it meets all requirements for DOCG. This is a perfect symbol of dissent against the rigid Italian wine tradition that began 45 years ago and managed to launch Antinori in the crème de la crème of iconic brands today. Continue reading “Il Più Grande: The Art of Marchesi Antinori”

Around the World in 18 Wines: Wine Point, Belgrade led by Frank Smulders MW

I open Youtube, start playing Prince, pour a glass of white and type the first words of this article. It all kind of falls into place and goes with the flow of a stupendous experience I had in Belgrade this past weekend on Wine Style’s Wine Point. Aleksandar Duković, the leading wine expert in Serbia (both in my perception and according to the certification he holds), created something worth all the praise in the world – a six-hour event led solely by the finest people in the industry. Now, you readers living outside of the Balkans will probably think „oh, come on, MWs have presentations every other week in my city“, but for us this is a serious step forward and not at all an easy task to accomplish.

Basically, Wine Point was a WSET/MW seminar followed by a grand tasting of Antinori wines. Frank Smulders, a Dutch Master of Wine (MW) and one of the principal educators in the business today, guided 30 people through the classic systematic approach of tasting, explained what it takes to receive the highest title in this trade and guided us through all the levels of the largest wine institute in the world – Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET). Continue reading “Around the World in 18 Wines: Wine Point, Belgrade led by Frank Smulders MW”

Must-Try Wines from Campania, Puglia, Calabria & Sicilia

Airplanes and hotels have never been my first option when traveling. It’s not that I don’t like the commodity, it’s just that I like the adventure and looong philosophical window sessions a lot more. But besides all the fun and games I create for myself, every once in a while I get to be part of something profoundly professional fused with a colossal amount of enjoyment. This time my destination was Belgrade, Serbia where a Masterclass of southern-Italian wine was held by Barbara Tamburini (consultant oenologist for more than 15 Italian wineries) and Igor Luković (editor at Vino & Fino) in the Hyatt Regency. The trip was organized by the Italian Trade Agency (ITA), which is spread out in more than 65 countries and works strongly on the promotion of high-quality Italian products.

This two-day hedonistic trip was opened by a visit to the gastronomically acclaimed Madera restaurant in the heart of the capital. Our group was served a 5-course wine & food pairing consisting of local cheese, beefsteak, chocolate mousse, Malvasia Nera and other delicacies. But the true enjoyment started the next day. Continue reading “Must-Try Wines from Campania, Puglia, Calabria & Sicilia”

Vertically Discovering Dingač with Vicelić Wines

This vertical tasting was not just an everyday work task with a due date attached to it, but rather an event proving why we’re living such a beautiful life. It was the first time I organized an official tasting for a group of close friends interested in the world of wine, but quite hesitant to put their finger on what exactly they like about it. We sniffed and tasted four wines from the same winery, grape variety and region, but of different vintages (2013, 2012, 2011 and 2010). They enjoyed it so much, that my very good compadre Adin even wrote a passage about the whole experience and sensory escapade he went through. Here’s a small excerpt that I’m most proud of:

At the beginning of the evening, Saša told us that Dingač 2011 was probably the best one in the flight. For me, it was not only the best one in the flight, but the best red wine I’ve ever tried. So I say to Saša, “I just lit a cigarette after a meal, but I can’t remember which dish preceded the cigarette”. He laughs, turns around and pulls out three Cuban cigars out of the drawer. After the third sip of wine, I remember what came before the cigarette and finish my imaginary dinner with a perfect chocolate souffle. And yes, the cigars and wine enhance the intensity of this blissful moment which I could’ve sworn I’ve experienced in a past life.

Plavac Mali is a grape variety well-known to the majority of Slavic people living in the Balkans. It is highly appreciated for its robust wines marked by high fruit concentration and tannins. Its kingdom is the Pelješac peninsula (Dalmatia, Croatia) where it thrives on sandy soils and receives optimal sun treatment on south-facing slopes. Why particularly wines from this area? Well, there’s this young winemaker Continue reading “Vertically Discovering Dingač with Vicelić Wines”

Heaven’s Gates: Tokaj, Hungary

Binding the Tokaj wine region with Budapest in one trip could be compared to a perfectly arranged dinner – you receive an exciting appetizer, which intrigues just a tad, and then you wait for the main course that nurtures a slight tremor to your senses’ core. The final class of the WSET Diploma study was completed with visits to the Disznoko and Szepsy wineries, the giants of Tokaji wines. Their best creations, bursting of botrytis flavours, explained why iconic Tokaji wines have been a privilege and a definition for diversity in the wine world for centuries.

At first glance, Tokaj, this epochal region, does not give off any meticulous charm; you’re driving along the road surrounded by meadows and gentle hills, without any fascinating landscapes, monuments, unusually planted vineyards. But after a few minutes, spontaneously and almost imperceptibly, the thought hits you – this area has an amazing history of independence, economic meltdown, historic intrigue and phoenix winemaking, in which the verb to give up does not exist.

Tokaj, Hungary’s wine region located in the northeast of the country, is so highly respected that it even managed to get a spot in the national anthem, in which the people give gratitude to God for providing them with this sweet vineyard nectar (Tokaj szölövesszein nektárt csepegtettél). No wonder, because once you try liquid gold, reasons become irrelevant. All that matters is that unwavering pleasure that lasts and lasts and lasts… Continue reading “Heaven’s Gates: Tokaj, Hungary”