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Gastronomy and Wine Portal

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Silver Lands Wines 2024: Portrait Sketches

09.07.2024, News

At the end of June, Drinks+ participated in a truly historic event – the first Ukrainian regional wine competition, Silver Lands Wines 2024, held in Mukachevo according to OIV international standards.

The forum, which combined the competition and the conference, was organized by the NGO “Association of Grape Growers, Winemakers, and Distillers of Transcarpathia” in collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the European Union project “Institutional and Political Reform of Small-Scale Agriculture in Ukraine” (IPRSA). The team comprised the country’s most experienced specialists: competition director Professor Nataliya Kameneva of Odesa National Technological University; international observer (FAO representative) Dr. Oksana Tkachenko, head of the Department of Wine Technology and Sensory Analysis at Odesa National Technological University; Oleksandr Garnovdiy, head of the “Association of Grape Growers, Winemakers, and Distillers of Transcarpathia”; and Ivan Bachurin, president of the Ukrainian Sommeliers Association, who oversaw the work of the tasting commissions.

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Drinks+ communication media group acted as the international information partner for the event.

Silver Lands Wines represents a unique terroir in Ukraine. The primary goal of the association members is to create a comprehensive portrait of the wine-growing region, defining wine styles, descriptors, and ultimately the image of the territory. To achieve this, the organizers undertook extensive efforts to collect samples, code them, and invite both national and international experts to participate in the tasting commissions. According to observers and participants, the competition adhered to the highest standards. Tasters used the Gustos.Life software, which operates on a blockchain basis. Ten wine professionals from Ukraine and Hungary evaluated 113 samples from 32 producers.

The commission on red wines was chaired by Olga Pinevich-Todoriuk, the editor-in-chief of Drinks+ magazine, who shared her thoughts on the event:

“Honestly, I am impressed by the fact that in Ukraine, every year, despite the challenges we face together, new wine pearls are discovered. The wines from craft producers in Transcarpathia, which have enormous potential both domestically and internationally, were a revelation for me. With my many years of experience in judging international wine competitions like Mundus Vini and Concours Mondial de Bruxelles, I can responsibly claim that these wines truly looked impressive and, most importantly, promising. Despite the challenging role I had, where the style of the white Silver Lands Wines is already well-defined, the red wines are still in the formative stage – a sketch, so to speak. Winemakers are exploring, selecting potential varieties and technologies suitable for the terroir. Of the 57 samples in my commission, only four were removed due to deficiencies, and another 10-12 percent received low scores. However, the majority passed the test, receiving high marks and awards – considering that OIV standards dictate strict quantitative limits for winners. Unlike most world competitions, where up to 80% of submitted samples can win medals, OIV standards involve a very critical selection, awarding only up to 30% of the declared titles. Notably, out of 19 gold medalists, only eight were red, indicating room for growth.

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Yes, perhaps the economic situation is not favorable for experiments at the moment. Ukrainians and their businesses now need to survive. But I see a clear and bright future for Silver Lands Wines, not only for the whites, which are already demonstrating a high level, but also for the reds. They have everything needed to develop their own distinctive style. Of course, this is the domain of the technologists. However, based on my experience and intuition, I would suggest experimenting with aging, including the use of different containers such as cement and amphorae. It might be wise to move away from trying to imitate Bordeaux and instead seek inspiration from regions like Austria or Hungary. One of my Hungarian colleagues even noted a resemblance to wines from the vicinity of Sopron among the Mukachevo samples. Considering the climate, it might even be worth looking to Burgundy as a model. I am confident that Silver Lands Wines will find their unique identity in the next 3-5 years and become elegant, light-style wines.”

And even today, it is essential to focus on selling Pet Nats and ciders – trendy, low-alcohol drinks with significant demand, especially in the summer. Therefore, the palette with which the portraits of Silver Lands Wines will be painted is very wide and bright.

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My personal favorites from the competition include:

  • Chateau Pauk, “Cahor” dessert (Cabernet): Berry notes in the aroma, with chocolate, coffee, and cream notes in the taste. A perfectly balanced, elegant wine with a truly dry finish.
  • “Shalanky Agro Invest”, “Merlot” 2017: Structured with fairly strong tannins, well-balanced, and featuring aromas of elegant spices, cooked berries, and herbs.
  • Urst Family Cellar: Dornfelder 2018 and Cabernet/Shiraz 2018.
  • KOVACH WINERY: As always, at the top with their unforgettable, elegant, and light Zweigelt 2019, which is still tannic and strong. By the way, wines from the Zweigelt variety are a serious contender from winemakers. In addition to the well-known Kovacs, I’d like to highlight the producer Vasyl Lendiel with his “Zweigelt” 2021.

Philosophy Through the Prism of History

The second day of the event was dedicated to the conference “Silver Lands Wines: Philosophy, Strategy, and Tactics of Geographical Indication Development.” The discussion centered on developing and popularizing the winemaking tradition of Transcarpathia by strengthening and promoting the geographical indication of the Silver Lands Wines.

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The presentation topics were aptly chosen:

  • ” Silver Lands Wines: History and Traditions”
  • “Development of the Grape and Wine Industry During the Formation of Geographical Indications”
  • “Grapes, Winemaker, Wine: Legislative Regulation and Market Needs”
  • “Technical Varieties of the Transcarpathian Region: Past and Future”
  • “Comprehensive Ecological Searches of the Territory: A Component of Developing the Specification of Products from Geographical Indications”
  • “Tasting Competition: A Tool for the Development of Geographical Indications. General Impressions of the Current State of the Quality of Regional Wines”
  • “Geographical Indication as a Tool for the Development of Agrotourism. Presentation of the Concept of the Wine, Honey, and Bryndza Route in the Transcarpathian Region”

You can watch the video of the presentations here.

The list of winners is here.


D+ File

The awards for the Silver Lands Wines competition were distributed as follows:

  • GRAND PRIX: Wine category over 96 points.
  • GOLD MEDAL: 88-95.9 points.
  • SILVER MEDAL: 82-87.99 points.
  • BRONZE MEDAL: 78-81.99 points.

Winemaker Roman Mushka received the highest award with the 2002 “Rose” wine, scoring 97.8 points and earning the Grand Prix.

In total, 19 wines were awarded gold medals, 32 received silver medals, and 37 were honored with bronze medals.

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