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Gastronomy and Wine Portal

Tábor István: “I think it is time to learn more about Ukrainian wines. Winelovers Wine Awards is ready to make your wines more recognized!”

Drinks+ spoke to Tabor Istvan, chief executive of the Winelovers Wine Awards. Our editor-in-chief Olga Pinevich-Todoryuk, as last year, was invited to the team of judges of the competition, and participation is free for Ukrainian winemakers. The event will take place in Budapest on June 28-30.

Considering all info listed in your website, can you, however, define the key special features of Winelovers Wine Awards? What makes it different from other international contests?

Winelovers Wine Awards is not only a competition, but a complete project that includes an international wine contest, a 3-day-event with several trade related side events focusing on Central Eastern European countries, and online wine magazine and social media. This focus on the CEE countries is our special feature and it is going to be more and more feasible in the future. I am being honest with you: in the first two years we had fancy topics of the masterclasses (side events of the contest), and the winelover public as well as the jury members were happy to taste Champagnes or other highly esteemed wines. At the recent, 3rd edition the masterclasses will present only CEE wines, for example the wines of Romania or indigenous varieties from 10 countries of the region. We also plan to have a guest country each year from the next edition, again countries from the Central Eastern European region.

Winelovers Wine Award

Piotr Pietras MS will be hosting a masterclass at the event

Does your competition have a mechanism regulating the number of medals granted to the participants? How does it work, practically?

Our contest is a so-called “Anglo-Saxon” competition, so we do not limit the number of medals granted to producers. Wines are scored out of 100 and judging comes to a decision based on independent blind tasting, and a collective discussion. However, judgings are half-day affairs so we have incorporated this element from the OIV, Organisation Internationale de Vin, system.

What are the most meaningful advantages the participants are getting from your competition? What are the benefits for those who don‘t win the medals?

The medal winners are featured in several ways from our digital and print magazines to social media posts and events. Maybe the digital publication is the most relevant for entering producers: the award-winning wines will be featured in an English-language digital publication and distributed to more than 4,000 key international decision makers (importers, head sommeliers, wine merchants and wine writers).

As for the non-medal-winners, well – they can learn from the results, since the jury consists of renowned wine professionals from all over Europe. Can you mention any wine contests, where the jury members are introduced before the contest? There are a few, but not many. We want to be as transparent as possible. From the website, the photos, the videos, wine producers can actually see which experts have tasted their wines. Are you a winemaker, entering a rosé? This year Jonas Röjerman MW will be the specialist of the rosé wine tasting table. If your wine does not win medal, will you say that he is not a seasoned taster? Or will you revise the way your rosé was made?

Winelovers Wine Award

The wine map of the world has been expanding in the last 10-15 years. How did that influence your competition (participants, judges)? Which countries, except Hungary, are represented among the participants and the jury members?

You are right: the last edition of The World Atlas of Wine features countries that were not known as wine countries earlier. Also, there are more and more developing wine countries, like Taiwan – now wonder we will have guests from Taiwan, though not as jury members, but as buyers. This Buyer’s Program is a novelty, and extra opportunities for wine producers and generic boards to introduce their wines to potential importers.

As for your second question, the proportion of foreign experts is much higher than last year.

This year we have 30 foreign jury members and 17 Hungarians, and the next year there will be even less local experts. The jury members come from several countries: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, the USA, Columbia, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Slovenia, Poland, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Germany and Austria.

We do not preach water: we will make this wine contest THE Central Eastern European wine competition.

Winelovers Wine Award

There’s a certain stereotype in the wine community: if a contest is held in Germany / Italy / France / UK, it focuses mainly on the buyers and consumers of that country. Do you think it’s true — and what are the core “markets of influence” for your competition?

Hungary is not a target country for most of the other CEE countries, because it is a wine producing not a wine importer country. There are some exceptions – like Pannon Borbolt with a significant selection of Balkan wines –, but the majority of the Hungarian buyers and consumers are at the phase of discovery when it comes to for example Ukrainian wines. However, we are a catalyst in this process – and we are the only one in this country with this mission.

But more importantly, our aim is to open a gate to the region. We are obliged to invite buyers and other experts of the west, and winemakers of the east and to create a professional environment to meet, taste, network and make business. We are seeking the competitive edge of the Central Eastern European wine producing region, the facets that can make this region interesting for the distributors and consumers of well-established wine importing countries.

What is your experience with Ukrainian wines? Do you see them as competitive as other wines of the Old and the New World within Winelovers Wine Awards?

Last year we had 3 gold medals from Ukraine, 15 silver medals and 6 bronze medals from 6 Ukrainian wineries. This year we are aiming to have 50+ entries from 10+ wineries. We are progressing step-by-step, and I think it is time to learn more about Ukrainian wines. Winelovers Wine Awards is ready to make your wines more recognized! It is up to you to join or not.

The medal winner Ukrainian wines from the last edition of Winelovers Wine Awards

Jury members of WWA 2024

International buyers of WWA 2024

Registration & entry of samples

Drinks+ spoke to Tabor Istvan, chief executive of the Winelovers Wine Awards. Our editor-in-chief Olga Pinevich-Todoryuk, as last year, was invited to the team of judges of the competition, and participation is free for Ukrainian winemakers. The event will take place in Budapest on June 28-30. Considering all info listed in your website, can you, […]

Exclusive Interview with Hannah Tovey, Event Director of London Wine Fair: Innovations and Highlights of the Upcoming LWF

One of the most significant expo events in Europe is approaching — it is the London Wine Fair. Just before this important event Hannah Tovey, Event Director of London Wine Fair, despite the incredible amount of organizational tasks, found time to talk to the head of the Drinks+ Media Group. After all, despite the fact that the British market has historically attracted all those who are concerned with wine sales, this year the LWF organizers are introducing a number of innovations that will enhance the presentation capabilities of this expo hub and attract an additional audience of traders from around the world.

In 2024, the London Wine Fair, as the largest event in the beverage trade sector in the UK, is introducing a range of new features. Could you please name 3–5 of the most significant new options for exhibitors, in your opinion?

We have a host of new features for 2024, as well as several first time and returning exhibitors, so the Fair will have a real sense of “newness”.  One of the most significant new features is Judgement of London.  And we have a brand-new exhibitor area: The Discovery Zone, a dedicated section which will host non-wine drinks, including No and Lo.  Another first for 2024 is the Hosted Buyer Programme which will be available for all exhibitors and visitors as well as a full Concierge Service for 50 of the UK’s top buyers.

As it is known, the British market is one of the leading arenas for wine traders, always having unique advantages for wine trading. However, how does LWF additionally attract leading trading companies? Could you please elaborate on the motivation and services? Perhaps the Wine Buyers Awards play a significant role — what’s new in this project this year, and how does the motivational mechanism work?

LWF has an enviable reputation as an event for drinks professionals from the UK and beyond.  This is based on three key elements: business; education; and networking.  We are very much a platform for our exhibitors, be they distributors, wine brands, generic bodies, boutique distillers to show their portfolios to the UK’s top buyers from supermarkets to independent merchants to sommeliers.  It is this happy marriage of our exhibitor and visitor audiences which makes the LWF such an attractive proposition.

Who among the new participants this year would you particularly like to highlight — new ones or those who have returned after the break?

Several of the UK’s leading agents, importers and logistics companies are returning this year. Mentzendorff will take a stand for the first time in 12 years and will host a series of unmissable masterclasses; Buckingham Schenk; Freixenet Copestick; Hillebrand Gori UK; Lanchester Wines; and Origin Wine are also all returning.  We will also host Japan with a generic pavilion for the first time and we have four Chinese producers attending.

Wines of South Africa will return with a large Pop-Up Tasting on the Tuesday.  The tasting will bring together some of South Africa’s best producers and highlight a wide spectrum of wines on offer, from well-known names such as Spier, DGB, Waterkloof and Springfield to less well-known producers and those seeking representation. Groupings for Cap Classique (South Africa’s traditional method sparkling wines) and the Stellenbosch Cabernet Collective highlight how important these two categories are for South Africa in the UK market.

We will also see many of our long-standing exhibitors at the show: Hatch Mansfield, Awin Barratt Siegel, Richmond Wine Agencies, Ellis Wines, EWGA, Felix Solis, H2Vin, Marcato Direct, Beyond Wine and Friarwood Fine Wines., to name just a few.

The most important aspect, perhaps, of organizing such global forums as LWF is meeting planning. Is there any statistics on how visitors and participants utilize the communication opportunities provided by you through the online platform? In this regard, what advice could you give to wine producers who would like to attract the attention of effective traders/buyers, etc.?

Our searchable database of exhibitor products at the show, which is managed by Bottlebooks, is invaluable for visitors who wish to create a personalised tasting sheet to maximise their time at the show.  This is very widely used, and last year we saw 7,000 unique users of the product list.  The Hosted Buyers Programme will give visitors and exhibitors access to London Wine Fair’s digital networking and show planner platform, where they can book sessions and invite other attendees to meetings, all based on bespoke searches.  VIP buyers have specifically requested a bespoke service, and this has resulted in a dedicated space for meetings “The Hosted Buyers Lounge”.

Could you please explain in more detail for potential users how the integration of a resource like Bottlebooks into your services is planned?

The Fair’s official digital directory is run by Bottlebooks; a now universally used platform for wine data capture, which launched with the LWF back in 2016.  Bottlebooks is a tool  that gives the wine industry one place to host and exchange comprehensive, producer-entered product information including product information, photography, maps, controlled by the source – the producer.  As such it really enhances the visitor – and exhibitor – LWF experience.

Perhaps, it would be worthwhile to provide more information about the exhibition layout on the eve of the event. As for me, the following sections sound particularly appealing: DRINKS BRITANNIA, ESOTERICA, TRADING FLOOR, WINES UNEARTHED… What exactly will visitors find there, and who are they intended for?

Drinks Britannia celebrates our English and Welsh producers; we have a record number – 18 – signed up this year, some of which are exhibiting under WineGB.  Esoterica is always one of the busiest sections; it hosts boutique, independent importers mainly targeting the premium on-trade and independent merchants. The Trading Floor is the main area of the show and hosts the larger UK agents distributors and generic bodies.  And Wines Unearthed hosts non-domestic producers seeking a UK agent for the first time.

DISCOVERY ZONE — I suggest delving into this in more detail. Do we already know which startups and innovative technologies will be presented here?

The Discovery Zone has been moved to the heart of the exhibition. The idea is that the products and services that are hosted in this zone, are really at the centre of future-proofing our industry. Whether that’s a sustainability agency, an App, or a logistics company.”

Are there any new venues or sections in your exhibition this year that will appear for the first time? What prompted their introduction?

For the first time we have a large, hosted meetings lounge. This was prompted by a conversation last summer with two key buyers. They explained that meetings on stand are often great for tasting, but sometimes they need a more private location to have in-depth meetings with suppliers.

I can’t stay aside and not ask you about the JUDGMENT OF LONDON — who exactly came up with the incredible idea to recreate the famous tasting in Paris now in London? The media group Drinks+ has already outlined the principles of the upcoming tasting on its resources in general terms. And we hope to have the opportunity to cover its results. But I would also like to clarify — how were the wine analogs from the Old and New Worlds selected, do you personally have any forecasts or premonitions?

I first dreamt up Judgement of London in 2019, with the intention to launch it at the 2020 show but that was scuppered by Covid-19 and the subsequent UK Lockdown.  Logistically, it has been quite a significant addition to the show, but we felt this year we were in a perfect place to revisit the original idea. Judgement of London will pay homage to Steven Spurrier’s ground-breaking Judgement of Paris but will have a broader remit.

Instead of a France vs California blind tasting,  Judgement of London will feature pairs of wines from Europe and the Rest of the World; eight white, and eight red. These have been selected to be comparable in terms of style and readiness for drinking.  Two of the UK wine industry’s most experienced professionals, Ronan Sayburn MS and CEO of The Court of Master Sommeliers, and high respected wine writer and tasting judge, Sarah Abbot MW, will be selecting the wines and curating the tasting and we have a panel of 20 of the UKS most impressive palates to judge,  Judging will take place on the first day of the show, and we will announce the results on the Tuesday on Centre Stage.

I have no preconceptions of how this will pan out, but whatever the results are it will be an incredibly interesting exercise.

It’s logical to continue the topic with global trends, which JUDGMENT OF LONDON will undoubtedly demonstrate through its results. Could you please name the main directions in which the wine world is moving, and which ones do you personally observe from the perspective of your own experience and years of activity in general? Which of them will have a critical impact on the industry? For example, could you comment on a phenomenon that LWF focuses on — such as regenerative.

Sustainability is the number one issue for wine right now and The Fair gives an opportunity to shine a spotlight on this and create an environment to instigate change.  2023 was the most sustainable show to date, and we have strengthened that focus for 2024, with more seminars and masterclasses on the key challenges our industry faces such as climate change and carbon emissions.  We will also report back on our Bottle Collection Initiative which we platformed for Sustainable Wine Solutions and The Porto Protocol last year.  The LWF is very much a showcase for future trends in the wine industry and 2024 is no exception: the use of Artificial Intelligence for example.

Perhaps, it’s worth focusing separately on the designated zone at LWF — MINDFUL DRINKING EXPERIENCE. How is this segment growing, and are wines with low alcohol content or even zero capable of regaining some lost audience of wine lovers — as global statistics, as far as known, indicate a decrease in demand for wine in almost all segments? Could you please detail the initiatives of an association like Club Soda?

No and Lo remains one of the fastest growing sectors within the drinks industry and also one of the most innovative and exciting.  We will be hosting 16 exhibitors / brands in the Mindful Drinking Experience this year, 7 for the first time.

According to observations by Drinks+ observers, competition between exhibitions — the world leaders in the professional wine community — has sharply intensified after the pandemic. Does London feel the pressure? What are your strongest positions that allow you to stay in the top league? What are the plans — if not a secret — for the coming years?

Having an event the scale of London Wine Fair which serves the UK market – one of the most diverse in the world – has never been more needed.  Having a platform which raises the most pertinent issues and challenges – as well as opportunities – is absolutely essential.  The impact of Brexit, the looming changes to duty, falling wine consumption, our carbon emissions all need to be debated and solutions implemented and LWF provides the space to do this, alongside doing business and identifying trends for the future.

One of the most significant expo events in Europe is approaching — it is the London Wine Fair. Just before this important event Hannah Tovey, Event Director of London Wine Fair, despite the incredible amount of organizational tasks, found time to talk to the head of the Drinks+ Media Group. After all, despite the fact […]

Luigi Costantini On the Grande Vino of Tenuta Manoylo

One of the most authoritative winemakers in Italy, the President of Assoenology Marche, Luigi Costantini, found the opportunity in his busy schedule to answer the questions of the director of Drinks+ International Communication Media Group. Luigi Costantini was born in the Marche region and has been working exclusively with local wines for 45 years. By joining forces with the owners of Tenuta Manoylo and the unique data of the terroir, Luigi Costantini managed to create a pool of brilliant wines at this winery. And from the first steps on the international stage, these wines won the highest awards of the prestigious international competition. How success was achieved, what direction the winemakers of Marche are moving in — we asked about all this in this interview.

D+: We know that your whole life is dedicated to the development of winemaking in Marche, the revival of local grape varieties and the international recognition of wines from this historical region. Five years ago, in particular, you, as an enologist, began collaborating with Tenuta Manoylo on the idea of ​​producing “grande vino rosso”. We ask you to explain what meaning you put into this phrase. What should such wines be like?

(Editor’s note: the winery is a nominee for the international Wine Travel Awards, you can vote for Tenuta Manoylo here until March 31 inclusive).

Tenuta Manoylo

Luigi Costantini: The meaning is quite simple and expresses the idea of ​​the project to obtain red wines with specific characteristics that are the optimal expression of a particular grape variety and climatic environment, with differences, even minimal, related to the climatic trend. These red wines should have niche characteristics to satisfy clients who are able to appreciate and understand the nuances highlighted by the terroir, with differences related to the vintage, but with the same common theme. Therefore, these are long-lived, complex, elegant, deep and powerful red wines that evoke sharp emotions in the taster.

D+: This year we are already seeing the fruits of this collaboration. In 2024, Tenuta Manoylo received the highest awards from the Mundus Vini competition: Grand Gold — 2021 Marche IGT Sangiovese; Silver — 2021 Falerio DOC Pecorino and Best of Show Marche for the excellent wine 2021 Marche IGT Sangiovese. Can you comment on the specific outstanding characteristics and features of each wine, noted by the esteemed judging panel?

Luigi Costantini: Indeed, this year we are finally beginning to see the results of the work started in 2020: all this became possible thanks to the owners of the winery, who believed in us — I say “in us”, because I work with colleagues: Lucciarini Vincenzo, who heads the analytical laboratory, and Lucciarini Matteo. I will try to briefly describe each of these wines.

Marche IGT Sangiovese 2021 — is the embodiment of the history of Sangiovese, one of the most important Italian grape varieties, which has an ancient origin and has been known since Etruscan times. The first documented reports date back to 1500 and refer to the central Apennines, the region between Umbria, Marche, Romagna and Tuscany. Sangiovese is able to best convey the features of climatic microzones. If we describe the appearance of this wine, then I note the ruby-red color with weak purple reflections. The aroma is intense, complex, refined, enveloping and ethereal, with notes of underbrush, with hints of ripe red fruits, plums, raspberries and cherries, with spicy and balsamic tones. These features complement each other and give the wine balance, elegance and harmony. There is a noticeable presence of tertiary aromas, such as toasted, vanilla or spicy notes. Light balsamic notes complete the complex aromatic picture. Taste: dry, sharp, warm and fruity, gives elegance to the wine and demonstrates evolution. Thanks to elegant and balanced tannins and low sugar content, it acquires a piquant and persistent taste with balsamic final notes and a spicy tertiary aroma.

Falerio DOC Pecorino 2021 

The local vine of this ancient variety was rediscovered in the Arcquatano del Piceno area by Guido Cocci Grifoni in the 80s. The 90s were marked by the revival of Pecorino, an excellent wine with a striking appearance and powerful acidity, but only in the 2000s, after experiments in the field and on the vineyard, DOC was created. And since 2011, it can be produced on the territories of Moresco, Falerio DOC Pecorino. Pecorino today is a symbolic wine and ambassador of the Piceni Fermani region: it is defined as “red in white clothes”. It has a beautiful straw-yellow color, tending towards golden, with soft greenish reflections. The aroma is deep, a complex bouquet, with an elegant structure with intense notes of white flowers and ripe fruits and with light notes of vanilla and balsam. Pecorino demonstrates a good range with very noticeable and clear aromas, with a predominance of herbal and sage tones. This wine has a wonderful structure, good acidity, full, piquant and pleasantly mineral, with a persistent taste.

Marche IGT Passerina 2021

The “Passerina” wine is one of the most famous wines of Marche and Abruzzo, produced from grapes of the same vine. The reason why this wine is called “Passerina” is that sparrows particularly like to peck at the grapes on the vine, from which the name of the wine comes. This vine was highly valued by winemakers and was called by such synonyms as Cacciadebiti, Scacciabebito, Pagadebito and Uva d’Oro, clearly indicating the variety’s ability to guarantee a good harvest every year and reliable profitability. Passerina has a nice straw-yellow color with golden reflections. The intense aroma of medium complexity has strong floral notes of lime and hawthorn, with broad fruity notes, mainly pear; cedar and ripe grapefruit notes and elegant mineral hints complete the aromatic trail. The proximity of the vineyards to the sea adds a characteristic taste — fresh, pleasant and soft, with a good structure. It is clear and persistent, with light citrus and aromatic herb notes.

Tenuta Manoylo

D+: We and, of course, our readers would like to learn more about the unique wine Peconero, a white wine with red properties, created by macerating Pecorino grapes on the skin of Petit Verdot using amphorae made of local volcanic clay. Please comment on this idea — how do these two varieties work together, how does the wine material develop in the amphora? What characteristics does such wine acquire?

Luigi Costantini: The project to create Peconero was born from the fact — already mentioned by me — that Pecorino has always been defined as “red in white clothing”. Varieties: Pecorino no less than 90%, Petit Verdot up to 10%. The yield is ensured by agronomy and is about 70 quintals per hectare. The harvest, which begins in early September for both vines, when the grapes reach the optimal and necessary level of ripeness, is carried out manually in boxes. The cleaned and slightly pressed grapes are macerated and fermented at 15-20 °C in steel tanks with flooding to promote the extraction of the anthocyanin component from the red skin and the aromatic component from Pecorino; maceration is stopped as soon as the optimal color is achieved. After the end of fermentation, the wine remains on the fine lees for at least 20 days. Here I note that malolactic fermentation should not be carried out in order not to lose the typical freshness of Pecorino. Then the wine moves on to the aging phase in wooden barrels and amphorae for 2-4 months. After bottling, Peconero does not require further processing. Pecorino matures early; gives wine with a wonderful structure, with very noticeable and clear aromas, with a predominance of herbal notes, sage. The wine has a wonderful structure, good acidity, full, piquant and pleasantly mineral, with a persistent taste. Petit Verdot, on the other hand, matures late, but we harvest it early to have a ruby-red color, fresh and slightly sour, with fruit and floral aromas that make it similar to Pecorino. These two grape varieties complement each other, and we still have a ruby-red color with complexity in the nose, waiting to be opened. This wine is very balanced in taste, even if Pecorino has a slight advantage. It must be consumed fresh. This is, so to speak, a “summer, fish red”.

D+: By the way, about amphorae — is this traditional vessel for aging wines in your region?

Luigi Costantini: Amphorae are very ancient vessels, dating back to 6000 BC, used primarily by the Greeks and Romans for transporting wine and other agricultural products. It is no coincidence that the history of amphorae, produced in the Adriatic region, from Pedaso to the hilly area, begins with the Greeks, continues with the inhabitants of Piceni and the Romans, as evidenced by some archaeological finds, around the mouth and along the banks of the river Aso, Roman ruins, which testify to the production of amphorae for transporting wine. According to these artifacts, our amphorae are made of volcanic clay in the area of Monteleone Fermano, a few kilometers from Moresco. That is why they are unique and have a volume from 100 to 500 liters. In fact, this is a unique material — since the clay is porous, the amphorae allow moderately oxygenating the crushed grapes or must, and later the wine itself, which gives the aromatic and organoleptic components of the wine noticeable typicity and territorial characteristics.

Tenuta Manoylo

D+: As we know, you are a professor of viticulture and winemaking, and such deep and comprehensive education allows you to conduct very productive experiments both with grape varieties and with different vessels for fermentation and aging of wines: steel tanks and oak barrels, concrete eggs and clay amphorae, in order to create wines with the best reflection of the terroir of Marche. Our readers are mostly professionals, so could you please dwell on this topic and tell us how exactly the vessels affect the organoleptic properties of wine? Perhaps on the example of the above-mentioned award-winning wines?

Luigi Costantini: I would like to note that our company is very sensitive to environmental issues, with rational management from the vineyard to the cellar. We have succeeded in obtaining the EQUALITAS certification, which is a standard that defines the requirements according to the three pillars of environmental and socio-economic sustainability in the wine supply chain. We also use biotechnology in the cellar for aging, maximally avoiding the use of chemicals. In the company, we use different types of containers: stainless steel tanks, concrete tanks, oak barrels, tonneaux, barriques and amphorae. Obviously, the use of these different containers depends on the final goal — the product you want to obtain. Our grapes, washed and dried, are vinified separately, except for DOC ROSSO PICENO, using stainless steel tanks, the Ganimede vinificator and roto vinificator; all the vessels are equipped with temperature control devices. We also use wooden vats. Maceration and fermentation vary in time, depending on the type of grape and the product you want to obtain, and since there are many variables — from harvesting to the end of fermentation, it is necessary to know how to understand and plan all the stages of winemaking. Red wines, which are always kept separate, after a certain period of time on the fine lees are moved to cement or wooden vessels and/or amphorae, always and in any case depending on the product itself and the desired result. The duration of stay varies from a minimum of 2 months to 12-14 months. Careful and periodic analytical and organoleptic checks allow us to determine the optimal time for any planned blending and bottling. In fact, the final organoleptic properties are not always the same, they depend on all the variables, starting from the harvest to maturation and aging.

D+: So, you not only revive and apply in practice the old traditional winemaking technologies involving the grape varieties of the Marche region, but you also, as we see, experiment with international grape varieties and innovative winemaking methods. Can you share your plans – what is happening today behind the scenes of Tenuta Manoylo, which innovative wines should we expect in the near future from this potential winery?

Luigi Costantini: Undoubtedly, the varieties of our grapes are traditional for our territory: Sangiovese, Montepulciano and Alicante, as well as international grape varieties for red wines, exclusively local for whites Pecorino and Passerina. It is true that we implement modern winemaking technologies in practice, such as the use of the Ganimede vinificator or rotary vinificator, but we also rediscover old winemaking technologies, first of all vinification under water and of whole grapes. The results of these winemaking methods can be predicted, but to draw final conclusions, we need to wait a few months. At the same time, we began research and selection of wild yeasts: this work will be quite long, but we hope to obtain proprietary yeasts that will further characterize our product. For the next few years, we have several projects for red wine, and we have already talked about Peconero. Another project that we have been conducting since 2023 is dedicated to Alicante. This grape variety has been present on our territory since 1800, we will vinify the grapes according to an ancient technology, which I do not want to reveal yet. In addition, we are already working on a wine in an international style using traditional grapes from our territory, Montepulciano. Both of the last projects will be implemented, I assume, in 2025.

Tenuta Manoylo

D+: You started your professional career in the same region of Marche, in Ascoli Piceno. And you remain faithful to this region. But Marche, unfortunately, is not such a widely known region in the wine world, as a whole list of other Italian winemaking territories. But you prove with your work — and the success of Tenuta Manoylo is the best fresh confirmation of this! — that the wines of Marche deserve more attention from wine lovers and professionals. Tell us about its features. And why did it happen that at some point it undeservedly found itself on the sidelines of fame?

Luigi Costantini: I entered this profession back in 1973, as soon as I received a diploma in “Winemaking and Viticulture” from the Ulpiani Institute in Ascoli Piceno. I have always worked exclusively in this region until 2005. But since then I started working abroad, mainly in Albania. Unfortunately, it is true that the Marche region is not very well known, although its winemaking potential is high. It is undeniable that the average wine production does not exceed one million hectoliters, as can be seen in 2022, when this figure was 93,000 hl. However, the wine palette is diverse and interesting, in fact we have 5 DOCG (Conero 10,000, Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio Riserva 8,700, Offida 35,200, Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva 2,100, Vernaccia di Serrapetrona 900), IGT Marche and 15 DOC: Bianchello al Metauro 11,700, Colli Maceratesi 8,000, Colli Pesaresi 7,200, Esino 1,400, Falerio 33,000, Lacrima di Morro d’Alba 13,800, Terre di Offida 1,200, Rosso Conero 8,700, Rosso Piceno 72,000, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi 148,000, Verdicchio di Matelica 26,800, Serrapetrona 1,000, I Terreni di Sanseverino 97, Pergola 460, San Ginesio 370, La I.G.T. Marche 268,600. Undoubtedly, the flagship product of our territory is Verdicchio for whites and Rosso Piceno for reds.

D+: How much importance do you attach to terroir in general and what potential do the vineyards of Tenuta Manoylo have? After all, not for nothing did a specialist of your level take up this project!

Tenuta Manoylo

Luigi Costantini: I would like to note that in managing the vineyard I work with my colleague Giuseppe Camilli, one of the most knowledgeable agronomists in Marche. As for the terroir, it is a very important concept, really basic. The company’s vineyard is diverse, it consists of different plots, distant from each other. This diversity means that there is an opportunity to obtain wine from one and the same grape, but which will express the differences of the terroir: in each glass you will feel different soils, etc. Now we are testing different varieties to optimize stylistics, product quality. To better understand the vineyard of the estate, I will give a table.

Grape variety Area (m2) Year of planting
Alicante 33925 22
Cabernet Sauv. 33514 20-21-22
Merlot 18430 20
Montepulciano 60238 21-22-23
Sangiovese 6831 18-20
Syrah 25161 18-20
Petit verdot 26921 20
Passerina 16267 20
Pecorino 14314 22

Total: 23,5646 ha


D+: From the height of your positions — ex-president of Assoenologi regione Marche and current president of Harvest Group Centro Ricerche Enologiche – you probably have a good view of what winemakers in Marche should do today to win the battle for recognition of their wines in the world, which today has been launched by such wineries as Tenuta Manoylo. What role can Harvest Group play in this? Can you briefly outline the roadmap: in what style to move, with which grape varieties, how to promote, etc.?

Luigi Costantini: A complex question… Undoubtedly, the wine sector of the region needs to create its own system, abandon limitations, focus on specific projects to create the opportunity to develop a synergistic strategy between all components of the supply chain and the territory. In order to finally overcome critical problems and improve the situation on the market. One of the main problems that determine the weakness of the regional wine and agri-food sector is the extraordinary fragmentation of the production and, above all, commercial system. In the provinces of Ascoli and Fermo, the agri-food sector, in particular the wine sector, has invested more than 130 million euros in improving the quality of production over the past 10 years, distributing the budget between modernization of processing structures, renewal of vineyards, diversification of agricultural activity, etc. But there is still no adaptation of these efforts to advertising and commercial policy, which remains the weak link in our production system.

D+: Dear Mr. Luigi! Thank you very much for your time answering our questions, success to you and your wines and well-deserved fame — to the Marche region!

One of the most authoritative winemakers in Italy, the President of Assoenology Marche, Luigi Costantini, found the opportunity in his busy schedule to answer the questions of the director of Drinks+ International Communication Media Group. Luigi Costantini was born in the Marche region and has been working exclusively with local wines for 45 years. By […]

Adrian Bridge: «We remain the leading specialty Port company despite now also being in hotels, tourism and distribution»

Mr Adrian Bridge, CEO of The Fladgate Partnership,  Taylor’s Port, The Portuguese WOW (this museum complex was nominated for Wine Travel Awards this year) and The Yeatman Hotel found time to talk to a representative of Drinks+ Communication Media Group.

Dear Mr Adrian Bridge, let me start our interview with a personal question. After all, as we see, people are at the heart of all the businesses you lead. Even the Fladgate Partnership is named after John Fladgate, a famous 19th-century distributor and partner of Taylor’s brand who was awarded the title of baron for his services to the wine industry. Port wine itself is a special drink that requires a personal approach to consumption. So we would like to ask you to spend a little time telling us about your long journey in this field — you started with a successful career as a Royal Guard officer, who was awarded the Sword of Honor. And to the wine industry, you were led by love?

I grew up in England and attended The Oratory School where a good friend of mine was David Sandeman – my first real contact with someone in the Port industry.  After leaving school I went to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst where I was awarded The Sword of Honour – an award given to the best Officer Cadet of the year.  I was commissioned in 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards where I served for 5 years – including a year with the United Nations Peacekeeping force in Cyprus.  When I left the Army I became an Investment Banker – firstly working at Merill Lynch and then at NatWest where I rose to lead the US Equity Sales team.

I met my wife in 1982, before I joined the army, and we were married in 1989.  In 1994, my father-in-law asked me to leave Investment Banking and come to Portugal with the aim of taking over managing the company.  We arrived in 1994 and I became Managing Director in 1998.

When I started in the company I looked after the UK and USA – two markets that between them accounted for over 50% of our business.  The company was fairly small with the two brands of Taylor’s and Fonseca and about 140 people.  Since 1998, we helped to consolidate the Port business, buying 7 different port companies or their assets.  We have expanded into distribution, hotels, tourism and, most recently, table wine.  The group now has 1,346 employees.

Can you list the main historical milestones of The Fladgate Partnership and what brands are currently united in this holding? What is the company’s position in the port wine market?

Our main brands are Taylor’s, Fonseca and Croft.  We have sold Delaforce and Krohn.  The three main brands are leaders in Special Category Ports where we represent about 1/3rd of the global market.  We have expanded to serve about 103 markets with Taylor’s Port which is probably the most consistently positioned Port brand and has an enviable reputation for quality.

We have always promoted innovation.  Our work in the vineyards earned us the Banco Espirito Santo Biodiversity Award – the first private company to win this.  In 2008, I created Croft Pink which was the first ever Rose Port.  In 2010, we launched Scion, an aged tawny from 1855 which was the pioneer for old releases by the Port trade – it was the first Port to be launched at a price of over Euro 1,000 per bottle (price was Euro 2,500).  More recent innovation is the launch of RTD (ready to drink) which is Port and tonic in a can.

We remain the leading specialty Port company despite now also being in hotels, tourism and distribution. In 2018, we launched the Porto Protocol where I invited Barack Obama to give the keynote speech.  The Porto Protocol is a global initiative to promote and share best practice in environmental response and we have members in 20 countries on 5 continents.

In your opinion, what place does port hold among wine drinkers today? We would be grateful if you could provide some comparative statistics for the last few years, how consumption is changing. Is the audience for this wine stable?

Port is both an aspirational drink and one that offers a wine range of styles.  Since 2000, the total sales of Ports have declined but the value of the sales has remained and this is because the growth has all come from Special Category Port.  France, the largest Port market, has lost 1/3rd of its volume since 2000 but all the volume lost has been in standard, commodity cheap Ports.

Port as a drink offers a rich style of wine that has layers of deep flavors and can be paired with many foods and consumption moments.  It goes very well at the end of the meal either on its own or with desserts.  However, we are also seeing increasing use of Port in cocktails given that it is a full bodied drink, with natural sweetness and about 50% of the alcohol that Spirits have.

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Today, The Fladgate Partnership, while remaining the flagship of aged port production, is expanding its scope of interests to include dry wines from the Douro region. What is the reason for this expansion? What are these wines, varieties, and characteristics?

We bought a business last August (2023) which was making table wine in Minho, Dao and Bairrada.  We bought them because they were great vineyards making fantastic world class wines.  There is a growing interest in Portuguese table wine and when we were offered the chance to buy such a quality portfolio we took it.  We will produce table wines from the Douro but we have to purchase a vineyard especially for this so that we do not compromise the production of a Ports.

Perhaps this is a result of a cursory glance, but it seems to us that port producers are paying more attention to mixology. If so, please comment.

Port can provide body and natural sweetness to a cocktail and only has 20% alcohol which makes it a perfect addition for mixologists who are seeking the best ingredients for their creations.

Would you say that your creation of a new style of port in 2008, Croft Pink, a multi-generational port, is a consequence of the same trends as port-based cocktails and dry wine production — i.e., a search for an additional audience? Over the 15 years of its history, this drink has gone from a solid port reputation to a somewhat frivolous image of a youthful drink in a stylish metal can, associated with the Barbie style and a favorite on the catwalks. What is the difference in technology and has the new type of port wine succeeded in taming the youth?

Croft Pink was a response to the increased interest in Rose wines around the world.  It did create more consumption moments and brought new consumers to the Port category.  It is a serious Port that uses the finest fortifying spirit that we have; spirit that is normally only used for Vintage Port.  It has been used in cocktails but is probably most often consumed on its own, often with tonic water.

It was a natural progression to offer a pre-mix Croft Pink and tonic for two reasons.  Firstly, we make our own tonic water that is actually dryer than commercially available tonic.  Secondly, it provides consumers with convenience as it is a single serving.  For example, it has been popular on airlines due to its easy of serving.

The fact that it was launched in 2021 and that there has been a subsequent movie called ‘Barbie’ has not correlation.  We have served it at fashion shows because it is cool, fun and tastes great.

Last year, in 2023, at the TFWA World Exhibition and Conference in Cannes, your company presented a unique drink for the first time — Taylor’s Port City Edition — the embodiment of the spirit of wine tourism, where even the packaging itself is a work of art — it contains an illustrated map of the Port, decorated with Taylor’s recommendations of places worth visiting. Who came up with this idea, what does this port represent? Is this a one-off release or will there be repeats, what are your plans for developing the idea?

This is a logical creation given that consumers are often looking for unique gifts that they can purchase at the airports.  We used a bottle shape that had proved very popular in 2017 when we celebrated our 325th anniversary of our foundation in 1692.  We plan to make other releases with other cities.

It would probably not be wrong to say that the most daring project in the field of wine tourism from your company is the creation of WOW. The Portuguese WOW space is a unique world-class phenomenon. Today, perhaps, it is possible to evaluate it as a business project, isn’t it? If so, please comment on the extent to which expectations and realities have coincided. We would also be grateful if you could tell our readers about the special training program in Portuguese winemaking offered by WOW’s The Wine School.

We have 5 permanent museums and two for temporary exhibitions.  We have 6 restaurants, 5 cafes and a wine bar.  We also have a wine school.

The wine school offers short courses for several hours followed by a meal or can run workshops such as the popular Wine and Chocolate or Port and Chocolate.  It also does WSET courses up to and including level 2.

WOW has used the city center location where we previously stored Port and is an entire cultural district.  It is a city asset open to all visitors. Many come for events, museums, shops, tastings and the wide number of activities that we offer.  It was launched on 31st July 2020 in the middle of Covid.  It was built to serve 80% tourists and 20% the local market.  That had to change rapidly and it has taken time to establish.  It is unique in the world which has made it more challenging to promote as people do not always understand what it is.  However, it is in the heart of the city, has fantastic views over eth city area and has something to appeal to everyone.  In 2023 we had just under 150,000 people visit the museums and 300,000 meals served in the restaurant.

Your company Taylor’s Port and the Gérard Basset Foundation announced this year the award of Taylor’s Port Golden Vines® Diversity Scholarships. This program of professional development is an honorable mission. Are the scholarships related to the development of knowledge about Portuguese winemaking? Can you tell us more — will all participants take this course and will it take place in Porto? Are there any plans to develop this educational project?

I knew Gerard Basset and his work in the UK.  He was a man with great knowledge but with a humble approach; someone who was willing to share his passion for wines.  When we were asked to sponsor the Diversity Scholarship it was a perfect opportunity to help people who were striving for wine knowledge to develop a professional career in the wine industry.  We are a strong believer in education and I also feel that a 330 year old company can take a leadership role in our industry.  We have been delighted to sponsor this program and to welcome the Scholars to Porto.  The education that most are looking for is to help them qualify as MWs or MS so the scholarship helps them to gain this knowledge wherever they travel in the world.

Since we are talking about high missions, it is logical to ask you to explain such a concept as The Porto Protocol — what exactly does it include, what is its purpose, and which manufacturers it unites? If you have such plans, please announce the next forums on this topic. Who can join them and how?

The Porto Protocol is a not-for-profit foundation that is helping the wine industry globally to share best practice and case studies of successful solutions to climate change.  It is funded by Taylor’s Port (part of that leadership role in the industry).  We now have members in 20 countries right across the world and the Porto Protocol has become the best place to find solutions for the wine industry to climate change.  We hope that in future we will have others help in funding the charity so that its work can grow.

Mr Adrian Bridge, CEO of The Fladgate Partnership,  Taylor’s Port, The Portuguese WOW (this museum complex was nominated for Wine Travel Awards this year) and The Yeatman Hotel found time to talk to a representative of Drinks+ Communication Media Group. Dear Mr Adrian Bridge, let me start our interview with a personal question. After all, […]


Congratulations to WTA nominee Daria Kholodilina from Georgia, who won the IWSC 2024 Emerging Talent in Wine Award sponsored by the London Wine Fair!

The list of exceptionally talented candidates for this award was announced last week. After a detailed review, the judges chose Daria Kholodilina. They were simply fascinated by Daria’s creativity and abilities. “It changes and moves forward the entire Georgian wine industry,” experts noted. “Her influence, ingenuity and work are creating markets and changing the way we think about wine.”

Daria Kholodilina is an expert in the field of wine tourism in Georgia, she is a big fan and popularizer of Georgian wine, has a WSET 3, Georgian Wine Expert certified by the Georgian Sommelier Association. She regularly blogs about Georgian wine in social networks. In 2022, Daria Kholodilina joined the WTA community in the nomination Wine & Food Influencer/The Brightest Journey.

Daria was born in Ukraine, and in 2013 she moved to Georgia and has since fallen in love with this country. She participated in the development of Georgia’s national tourism strategy for 2015-2025, focusing on marketing and promotion.

The judges were impressed by how Daria Kholodilina acquired deep knowledge in such a deep topic as Georgian wine in a few years and became a respected specialist in the field. She is the co-author of the book about Georgian wine, the only English-language guide to the wine regions of Georgia “Georgia: A Guide to the Cradle of Wine“;  she hosts a podcast and radio show on the same topic, and also created her own wine tourism company, Trails and Wines.

In 2020, Daria spent several months traveling around Georgia, visiting wineries and filming interviews with winemakers. She gave her notes to Georgian wine importers in Germany, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands to help them promote the wines. In addition, Daria organizes training on the development of wine tourism and conducts numerous tasting events, presenting Georgian wine in Georgia and abroad.

The IWSC 2024 Emerging Talent in Wine judges praised Daria Kholodilina’s work and expressed their admiration for her intention to use her £2.5k travel award to help her community and expand her impact. In her application, Daria said she had two ideas for how to spend her scholarship – an internship at a European winery to conduct more in-depth training sessions for Georgian winemakers, and representing small Georgian producers at one of the major trade fairs.

Daria Kholodilina is sincerely happy about her award: “Georgian wines have already received several medals from the IWSC, but I am happy to bring home the first award in the field of wine communication and marketing in Georgia!”

The Wine Travel Awards team hopes that this year will be a stellar one for Daria – and she will win this project as well. Public voting for the nominees of the 2024 award will start on March 1 and we invite readers to support Daria by visiting her page from March 1 to 31 and giving her a “like”.

Congratulations to WTA nominee Daria Kholodilina from Georgia, who won the IWSC 2024 Emerging Talent in Wine Award sponsored by the London Wine Fair! The list of exceptionally talented candidates for this award was announced last week. After a detailed review, the judges chose Daria Kholodilina. They were simply fascinated by Daria’s creativity and abilities. […]

Thomas Brandl: “I didn’t expect such a quality revolution in Ukrainian winemaking within such a short time“

Only in 2023, Ukrainian wines have won more than 150 medals from various international competitions, evaluated and awarded by wine professionals and experts from around the globe. We do believe that these numbers will grow in 2024, especially now that every year we witness the growth in quality of Ukrainian wines. 

The range of wine competitions is really wide, so what differs one from another? Drinks+ decided that the best way to find that out is to talk to insiders. Victoria Makarova‘s interview with Thomas Brandl, the representative of Concours Mondial de Bruxelles for Eastern and Central Europe and owner of xenos-comm, is, hopefully, one in a row, providing useful insights to Ukrainian winemakers.

How did your career wir CMB begin? I am sure there‘s an interesting story behind it. 

Yes, indeed, there is. Back in 2007, during my time as Communication Director of Stuttgart International Trade Fairs, I was invited as a judge to a national wine competition in Chile. That was the time when I met Baudouin Havaux, the Chairman of Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. We are the same age, we had (and still have) a lot in common —  as you may know, wine is connecting people. Baudouin had a “campo” in the Maule region of Chile, and he invited me to spend a few days in his country house. A year later, in 2008, the Chilean competition was already co-organised by CMB, it took place in Valparaiso — I was invited to join the jury. And in 2009, I found myself as panel chair of the big CMB in Valencia / Spain. Since then, I do this every year. In 2012 I became the official CMB Ambassador for Germany, Austria and all Eastern European countries.

So you are currently working with lots of so-called „emerging“ wine regions. Which of the recent years’ discoveries you would call the most impressive ones, and why? 

During my 14 years at Messe Stuttgart the winemaking of Eastern Europe was my focus. We did many presentations and press conferences for the Intervitis   vitivinicultural technology trade show to attract visitors to Stuttgart. When I started  my own PR agency xenos-comm in 2011, I continued working in this field. I helped wine countries like Georgia, Moldova, Bulgaria, Romania and North Macedonia to gain visibility in Central Europe, as well as Turkey and Greece. Recently I started a collaboration with Wines of Armenia, and every now and then I’m helping my Ukrainian friends a bit as well.

In the last few years, Ukraine and its wines have probably been the biggest surprise years for me. I didn’t expect such a quality revolution in Ukrainian winemaking within such a short time — and especially during the on-going russian aggression in Ukraine.

You are well familiar with Ukrainian wines. Which categories could be the most relevant for the range of CMB competitions and have better chances to win medals?

So far, I think your chances are better with white wines and sparklings. Odesa Black (the famous local red) can deliver very powerful, spicy red wines. But sometimes I find them a bit rustic. The indigenous Telti-Kuruk or the local Sukholimansky are very interesting white varieties in my opinion. Of course, there are better and better Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon produced in Ukraine as well, the question is, however, are the export markets waiting for them…? There is already a global oversupply with the wines made of these French varieties.

Ukrainian wineries have already participated in CMB and won some medals. What would be your recommendations to those who are planning to do it for the first time? Is there a “must do” checklist, maybe?

No, there’s no “must do” checklist. But, of course, as Concours Mondial regulations are the strictest in the world, only top quality wines should be sent there. We follow the rules of OIV with maximum 30% medal awards, unlike, for instance, some British competitions, where 80% of all participating wines get medals. I don’t think flooding the world with medals is a very serious business behaviour, to me it seems more like a “money printer”. Each producer should be aware of the value of his medals obtained in a competition where 4 out of 5 wines are getting one. This may not be so obvious to the consumer, but definitely clear to the expert community. 

To be awarded at the “big” CMB for red and white or the specialized editions for Rosé, Sparkling and Sweet wines might not be as easy, but the producers can be sure that their accolades at CMB do count amongst the best wines in the world. And the organizers do a lot to promote the award winning wines and wineries globally. 

Could you tell us a bit more about the special features of Concours Mondial de Bruxelles? What makes it different from other international contests?

CMB defines itself as the “United Nations of Fine Wines”. No other competition in the world has such an international tasting panel, with people coming from over 50 countries and from all continents. There are other important competitions, for example in Germany and the UK, but, as far as I know, the tasters there are mainly German or British. 

Another distinctive point is the cooperation with the University of Louvain in Belgium for statistics and the “quality control” of our tasters: every day they are tasting the same wine twice blindly without knowing it – and if their scoring differs remarkably, they will have a problem.    

So CMB has a mechanism regulating the number of medals granted to the participants. How does it work, practically?

We follow the 30 percent rule strictly. When the tasting sessions are over, our IT system does the necessary corrections of scores to remain within the 30 percent frame. This may result in some wines getting into a “small silver” range, meaning they are within the general “silver” score, but not winning a medal.

Sounds tough. Considering the strict evaluation procedure, what are the most meaningful advantages the participants are getting from your competition? And what are the benefits for those who don‘t win the medals?

As I already mentioned, 50% of our tasters are international journalists, another 15% are international buyers and importers. The award-winning wines very quickly raise the public awareness of the producers. Just to give you an example: in 2022, 3 days after winning the trophy of the Best Red Wine in Show, a wine from Moldova was completely sold out! It was the first time that a wine from Eastern Europe won this award at CMB. In 2023 another red wine from Bulgaria followed, with a similar success rate.

All participants, including those who do not win medals, receive an elaborated sheet with the details of the tasting panel, comments from tasters, and the aroma profile of their wine, which they also can use for their marketing purposes.  

The wine map of the world has been expanding in the last 10-15 years. How did that influence your competition (participants, judges)?

Since I began to work for CMB the number of samples submitted by wineries from Eastern European countries have more than quadrupled! This goes hand in hand with the quality revolution we have been witnessing there recently. Of course, the number of tasters from Eastern Europe has risen at the same speed. Many of them do a very good job and have become important members of the big CMB family, some of them also serving as panel chairs. I’m very happy about this evolution!   

There is a certain stereotype among the participants: if a contest is held in Germany / Italy / France / the UK, it focuses mainly on the buyers and consumers of that country. Do you think it’s true? And what are the core “markets of influence” for your competition?

I think this perception is quite true. If producers are targeting merely the German market, they are in good hands at Mundus Vini. If they are interested in the British market, there are several competitions to be considered there. The competitions in France, Italy and Spain are heavily dominated by national producers and judges. CMB is actually the only international event which travels every year, thus exploring new wine regions and countries and putting them on the global winemaking map. The biggest number of samples are submitted by the winemakers of France, Italy, Spain and Portugal, followed by Eastern Europe in the meantime.

Our recent creation of “Wine Bars“ and “Wine Corners by CMB” in important global cities like Mexico and Tokyo in combination with our new collaboration with United Airlines and their Business Lounges offers CMB medal winners unbelievable marketing possibilities in the future – all around the world!

In 2023 we surpassed the former Iron Curtain for the first time, when we organized CMB in Slovakia. In 2016 we were in Plovdiv, in 2020 in Brno, in 2023 in the Croatian Poreč. Why not come to Odesa one day, when this horrible russian aggression is history? I’d love to realize this dream…        


The CMB Red & White Wines Session will take place in the city of Leon, Estado de Guanajuato, Mexico, on June 7th, 8th, and 9th. This is the first time the competition will be held in North America. The State of Guanajuato has a rich winemaking history that dates back five centuries. 

More details about CMB sessions and registration can be found here:

Rosé Wines Session

Sparkling Wines Session

Red and White Session

Sweet And Fortified Wines Session

IMPORTANT INFO: on the request of Wines of Ukraine, the CMB organizers are offering Ukrainian participants a 20% discount for submitting their samples, valid for all tasting sessions in 2024. For further details and promo code, please contact Wines of Ukraine team at info@ukr.wine.

Photos: Thomas Brandl, Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 

Only in 2023, Ukrainian wines have won more than 150 medals from various international competitions, evaluated and awarded by wine professionals and experts from around the globe. We do believe that these numbers will grow in 2024, especially now that every year we witness the growth in quality of Ukrainian wines.  The range of wine […]

“Ribera del Duero DO. Big wineries help small ones, and small ones strengthen the big ones”

The Regional Editor-in-Chief at the WTA Guide and Drinks+ Magazine, Brand Ambassador of Vinos de La Luz international group of companies Nataliia Burlachenko specifically for Drinks+, conducted an interview during her stay in Spain with the leaders of the most well-known association of winemakers – Mr. Enrique Pascual García, president of the regulatory council of Ribera del Duero DO, and Mr. Miguel Sanz Cabrejas, general director of Ribera del Duero DO. The conversation revolved around the successful experience that has enabled the Ribera del Duero brand to hold a worthy position in Spain’s top 100 brands ranking today.

How is it the situation at the moment with Ribera del Duero in general?

Enrique Pascual García: The situation is very good. We are currently growing, positioning ourselves not only in volume but also in terms of quality which is essencial. So at the moment we have obtained very interesting outcomes. All the DO is facing this moment of growth also because  its image and reputation of quality is changing. We are not just interested in growing the volume of our sales.

What are you doing that is making you grow like this?

E.P.G: In terms of quality measures, in viticulture but also at the wineries we are making sure that we are delivering that same quality. This system that is being implemented is helping us since the beginning with high principles. This is how we distinguish ourselves from the other because we have been focusing on that especifically. In this market, there are only two ways to distinguish yourself. Either by price or by quality. The wines and its production have been growing intensively on quality. I know the production almost since the beginning of it so I faced its evolution and lived very close to it. I can tell you that because of that, we have been given the possibility to growth our business. Nowadays we are the only ones to deliver this kind of quality in the region.

What do the producers that are out of the DO say about this?

E.P.G: All the people that are inside the region is part of the DO. There is only one project that is out of it but because of the kind of wine they produce. The ones from outside that want to be integrated can not do that.

Are you going to make any new changes in terms of law and legislation?

E.P.G: At the moment we are working on a project about new varietals that may be included into the region because of the climate changes, allowing us to keep producing the wines we currently make. They have to be varietals that will improve with time. Tempranillo will still be tempranillo but we have to consider these factors to protect us from the future changes. We are also trying to bring back some varietals that we can regulate. All of this is very complicated, especially if we wouldn’t have the association that is helping us developing the project.

It’s true that Malbec was very hard to work with because it used to be very sensitive to this kind of climate and region, very hard to achieve the intended colour etc. Do you work with the OIV? Because they produce and provide a lot of rules and recommendations about varietals and they study very deeply this topic.

E.P.G: For us the OIV is in the international contexto which, for us, is not that relevant. So all the recommendations they provide are more the matter of the national level organisations or the governmental ones.

How is the situation about Albillo? Do you tend to plant  more this white varietal? Why did you choose this grape? Is it to create a competition with Rueda?

E.P.G: What we intended to do was to create a different line. We see no advantage on competing with anyone. We are a team. Our goal is to define our viticulture heritage. The whites of Ribera del Duero have the goal to not be sold young, so they usually have barrel aging and they have similarities with wines from Burgundy. They are not so similar to the rest of whites from Spain in terms of style, more complex. The ideal is to position them in Europe with 5/8 years old. We have to learn, this is something new for us too. And now it has been planted more and more. Nowadays, to keep the profile of the Roses, they use Albillo. With the demand that we are facing, the viticultures are delivering by planting it more. Although it is in fact more expensive than Tempranillo. The Claret wine has always been a mix between white and red with no percentages, it was made naturally without that kind of control. There was no measure, we just mixed it until we reach our final goal. The result is very good. It has aromas of white wine but with the complexity of  red. All of the first red wines from Ribera del Duero had white grapes in it. From 1982 to 1990 the red and the white started being separated and the process finished in 1990. We have modified the conditions allowing to pour up to 25% of white in red.

We did it to be crossed with other varietals. Last year, 200.000 bottles were sold. When they are released, in less than one month they are sold out.

How was the impact of covid for the producersp Also how influences the war in Ukraine? Did you notice any sort of negative impact on sales?

E.P.G: Covid was not like we thought it would be for the business. It wasn’t very significant impact and we recovered from it very quickly. Overall, we didn’t face any problem regarding the war in Ukraine, Undirectly, it affects us on a level because of the world inflation. The energy increase was more impactful.

What about in terms of Enotourism? Is there negative effect that impacted you?

E.P.G: In terms of Wine tourism the effects were very strong but we are recovering very well and we faced a growth in terms of quality tourism which is something that we are looking for.

And the quality that you are achieveing is not only in terms of wine but also in terms of services, Hospitality, Location of the route because it is a very strategic point from Madrid, France. There are a lot of things to see and taste and a lot of diversity in general.

E.P.G: The business of wine is now positioned together with tourism and finally it is open. Logically it is very hard to fight against the coastal tourism and rural tourism, which is our scope but weare  developing and offering quality and well directed to succeed. The wine tourism has an advantage. It was born because people fell in love with a certain wine and they want to see how it is made and what’s the story behind it. And that’s what we are transmitting to people and it’s our main factor of attraction and allow us to grow, especially in consumers who are willing to pay more and more. Our signature is: If we are capable to offer a wine with such quality, the service has to deliver that same quality because that’s what people will be hoping for.

Which are the duties of the board? To regulate or to develop the DO?

Miguel Sanz Cabrejas: It has 2 roles. At the moment we are certifying and we also make the legislation because we need to make sure the quality is being delivered. We are present in 11 markets which represent 76% of Ribera del Duero exports. The goal is to reach these 3 things: • The wineries export increase • Increase the price of the product, generating value • Generate brand awareness.Most of the wineries in Ribera del Duero are very small and without many resources. We never use generic wines to represent us. The wine is worth more because it is better. Everything is connected to the quality. Personally I don’t come from the wine world. I am the first director of a DO that never had experience in wine, only in the food industry in the enterprise level. This is the philosophy here too. We have our goals to reach and negotiate our  plans. We created one international comission of promotion in which 6 wineries are participating and these ones are the ones that export to the 11 markets. So, when we plan a market strategy, they know that same market and they can cooperate between each other.

The producers and vine growers are part of it?

M.S.C: The administration includes 5 vine growers and 5 wineries. And they all have the same power. We do study the market properly and then discuss and take the necessary measures to apply to all. If you have the perfect product but you don’t know how to sell it there is no point.

The producers and vine growers are happy about all the work that has been developed?

M.S.C: All the decisions that are made are common to all, there are no votes. They are all very happy. We exist to recommend not to create different opinions.

How’s the reputation of Ribera del Duero inside the country?

M.S.C: It is excellent. At the moment it is considered a top wine in Spain with quality. In 2021, there was a list of 100 spanish brands that deliver trust the consumer. There were only 2 wine regions: Rioja and Ribera del Duero (out of 101 in all Spain) and Vega Sicilia that is Ribera del Duero is also in this list. In terms of notority, you could see that in covid period because the market was closed and when the sales increased online, the consumer understood that Ribera del Duero had a higher price but it was better at satisfying its needs because while the sector was falling, we had better sales because of the brand awareness created. The young generations had a very good perception of what we did and target that we reached. They understood our essence. They are looking for a different profiles which we offer. The kind of style that still has the quality and the fruityness.

Why is Ribera evolving much faster than Rioja?

E.P.G: Ribera del Duero had so much success in Spain already that you didn’t need to export it. From the 310 wineries we have, 120 export regularly. 40 are in charge of almost 80% of the total exports. So, after covid everything changed. The national market was closed, we had to open globaly in order to save the business. There were few wineries that were selling only in hotels. And now they are in the international context. Another very important element is that, 8 years ago when I first joined DO I went to US for a business trip and I asked the local businesses why do you only have few Ribera wines? And they would answer like “ why would we if they all taste the same? ”. After that, there was a revolution on the wineries level individually because they understood what the market wanted and started to make different wines and giving it a different profile. So now, that diversity is what made the region grow. Now, in the US, if they want to show the diversity of Ribera they need to have 5 or more wines to really represent it. Also, not all the world has the monetary capacity to export outside Spain. Ribera is a very recent region that exists now for 40 years so also there was still no capacity to look to the outside market as the main goal. The way that one winery creates to open the market, facilitates to the other ones and that is the kind of cooperation we are looking for. The big ones help the small ones and the small ones reinforce the big ones. Nowadays the buyer knows what he is looking for when we are selling Ribera del Duero, we do not really need to prove its reputation.


The Regional Editor-in-Chief at the WTA Guide and Drinks+ Magazine, Brand Ambassador of Vinos de La Luz international group of companies Nataliia Burlachenko specifically for Drinks+, conducted an interview during her stay in Spain with the leaders of the most well-known association of winemakers – Mr. Enrique Pascual García, president of the regulatory council of […]

Bordeaux changes through the prism of the vision of Jane Anson or back to pre-phylloxera winemaking experience

Recently, the Incubator of Bernard Magrez hosted a very special event – a conference and business networking event “Big Mentor Day”, headlined by the famous wine critic and journalist Jane Anson (the UK) and the modernist and very talented winemaker Loic Pasquet (France). Very open-minded bright person – Lady Jane Anson warmly prized our representative with her time and attention and gave an unexpected opportunity for an interesting conversation during the conference break for lunch.

It should be noted that the Wine Travel Awards project became a member of the Bernard Magrez Incubator a year ago. This project was chosen among 2000 applicants as a promising start-up in wine tourism and as a platform for networking for all branches of the wine community. Thanks to the incubator, we, the project team, have the opportunity to learn from the examples of our colleagues, meet many prominent people who write the modern history of wine and share useful information about current events and the daily life of the wine industry.

That morning I had mixed feelings of excitement and excitation.

9 a.m. Two black Mercedes Mini Van parked in front of the Incubator of Bernard Magrez in Pessac-Leognan, Bordeaux/France.

She slipped out of the car and entered by her light steps into a spacious hall. Jane Anson, a prominent personality of the Bordeaux wine elite, was followed by dozens of young people in a procession of honour. Their appearance talked clearly that they had arrived at Big Mentor Week from all over the world. The lucky ones who won have a chance to discover the hidden pearls of the Bordeaux wine region thanks to the support of the Gerard Basset Foundation!

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I heard my heartbeat strongly… But, fortunately for me, Jane was accompanied by her business partner, Chinedu Rita Rosa, whom I knew thanks to one of my classmates from my time at the Bordeaux International Business School studying wine marketing and management. So, I breathed a sigh of relief and after enduring a pause and contemplating the warm greetings of the guests both scholars and representatives of start-up Win of Bernard Magrez Incubator, I finally approached to shake hands with the woman, meeting with whom was an unattainable dream for me a few years ago. Chinedu warmly welcomed me and introduced to Jane. We had a three-way conversation later that day.

Ljudmila Bobik: As we know you have been here in Bordeaux for more than 20 years, aren’t you?

Jane Anson: Almost exactly, – replied Jane. It was September 2003, when I moved here.

L.B.: Why did you decide to choose Bordeaux and not Burgundy or Champagne wine regions?

J.A.:  Those were the other two places we’d considered moving to, who’s gonna be either Bordeaux or Champagne or Burgundy. And we decided Burgundy was too far away from England, to be honest, and we wanted to fly home easily. And there is one hour from London to Bordeaux. So very practical reason. We decided Champagne was a little bit too North and maybe the weather wouldn’t be so good.

L.B.: Yes, 20 years ago definitely!

J.A.: Yeah, but not today, – Jane smiled. And maybe it’s more expensive as it’s closer to Paris, so, yes…we didn’t… we’ve moved here (Bordeaux) with really had nothing at all. We didn’t have jobs, we didn’t have a ton of money, we just moved in to see what would happen. ‘Cause we were in the EU at the time, before Brexit you could do that! But now, somebody couldn’t do what I was doing because of Brexit… So, they’ve destroyed a lot of possibilities for the young generation.

Also, the other reason was, the people of Bordeaux have a big worldwide reputation. So, as a writer, I knew if I moved to Bordeaux I could sell stories, so could earn money. Because I needed money to live and to pay my bills, I thought Bordeaux was a sensible place to move to from the practical point of view, ‘cause it’s a well-known wine region.

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L.B.: I think, also, ‘cause Robert Parker made it loud the name “Bordeaux”

J.A.: Yes, agree, that’s true. But I think Bordeaux had 2,000 years of great history long before Robert Parker came along.

L.B.:. When did you start to write for Decanter? Share, please, your story.

J.A.: I started with Decanter when I moved here which means 20 years ago. And before that moment I was already a journalist, but not a wine writer. I was able to use my skills as a journalist to research asking my questions, to not be afraid of getting things wrong, as a journalist you need to verify, verify, but ask the questions. Also, I was lucky enough to meet those people who compatitate me seriously and who helped me to study. I began my wine education with WSET. It was great as a broad overview of the economy and geography of wine, but for my tasting abilities it was really taking the DUAD tasting diploma at the Bordeaux Institute of oenology that made me more confident in my abilities. At the same time I was writing books, and the research involved in books helped me along the way to get more knowledge. Writing Inside Bordeaux was a culmination of all that time living and learning about Bordeaux, and I knew that I was able to offer a different point of view on the region. Covid made a big difference because during Covid I was doing a lot of online tastings for Pall Mall 67 that helped make my profile higher. I’m really grateful for having worked with Decanter for so long, but it felt like the right time to leave and begin something on my own. My last tasting with them was an online tasting of Château Margaux, a great one to finish on!

L.B.: Can you say that you are a witness of real big changes in Bordeaux that started at the end of 1990th, a witness of the real modern development of the Bordeaux wine region?

J.A.: Yes, you are right. It was not only Robert Parker who had a lot to do with the development of Bordeaux but also people like Michel Rolland or Denis Dubourdieu. There were a lot of key figures in Bordeaux at that time who were either consultants or winemakers or professors, who did a lot of things trying to help understand this region. I think one thing quite interesting in the change – when I came in 2003, a lot of that stuff they were doing within the wineries they making sure you had clean vinification and Denis Dubourdieu did a lot of work with yeasts, what were the right yeasts to use. And I think today the shift is gone really back to the vineyard and people really really much more interested now in terroir, in organics, biodynamics, sustainability, environmental things. Which is wonderful!

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L.B.: We are going to be close to nature, to the natural processes, aren’t we?

J.A.: Exactly. We are going back in time! More turn how it was hundred years ago.

L.B.: Bordeaux was always an unreachable legend and how did this trend start changing during the last years? When Bordeaux become more open?

J.A.: Yes, I think that what I’m doing with Chichi is important in changing the conversation around Bordeaux. In many ways as a port city Bordeaux has always been open to new consumers and new markets, but internally it can be very traditional. Understanding Bordeaux is a great way to be taken seriously in a wine career, and Chichi and I wanted to help find a way for people from other places who maybe have barriers to progressing, whether economic, geographic, cultural, whatever, to get a shortcut to this knowledge, and help set up an exchange – because Bordeaux also benefits from meeting this brilliant next generation of the wine industry.

L.B.: Dear Jane, I’d like to thank you, as many wine lovers would also do, for your in-depth writing work “Inside Bordeaux” which is nowadays the best seller and where you show and explain that new vision of this legendary wine region! You, as a woman, who moved to a new unknown to you country and made yourself who you are today in a business where the majority of the representatives are male, is very inspiring!

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Lady Jane Anson – the famous wine writer, wine critic, and author of dozens of books, thousands of articles and essays about the Bordeaux wine region, its history, viticulture, wine estates, wine trade and business. To make even brighter the portrait I’d like to add a short comment from Chinedu Rita Rosa, who is also a very talented businesswoman in the world of wine and the founder of the first Woman Bordeaux Business Network Association.

I’d like to mention one thing which is very keen to what she’s done and what she continues to do is – she is English, she’s not married to a French man, she’s not connected to any of French wine families, she doesn’t have any present, past, future we don’t not yet and she came to this region as a passionate outsider, passionate about her writings, not the wine. She is a passionate writer and wine came after. And while you are reading her book about Bordeaux it’s a flow of the sentences. Not many books are written in the way you become excited by the style of writing. So, in Jane, I see first of all a very talented writer who can make any topic become interesting!

Recently, the Incubator of Bernard Magrez hosted a very special event – a conference and business networking event “Big Mentor Day”, headlined by the famous wine critic and journalist Jane Anson (the UK) and the modernist and very talented winemaker Loic Pasquet (France). Very open-minded bright person – Lady Jane Anson warmly prized our representative […]

Giacomo Pondini: “I believe that the role of Consortiums soon will focus increasingly more on tourism issues. With that in mind, we should build up a net that goes beyond our wineries”

How the one of the most famous DOCGs of Piedmont Consorzio dell’Asti is functioning, what are the new vectors and marketing strategies and in the framework of the Wine Travel Awards project as well, about the sustainable development initiatives among Asti winemakers it’s wines and new markets we disscuss with the consortium general director Mr. Giacomo Pondini.

Consorzio dell’Asti patronizes one of the most famous DOCGs of Piedmont. Please tell us what territories, terroirs and how many estates it covers today?

The area of production of Asti DOCG covers 51 municipalities in the Alessandria, Asti, Cuneo provinces: ten thousand hectares of Moscato bianco in the heart of one the most important Italian regions in terms of quality wines, Piedmont. A UNESCO site since 2014, the territory is usually characterized by hilly landscapes covered in vineyards, sometimes placed on steep slopes, that can only be worked by hand. Great variety of terroirs, with soils that may vary from light weight mineral and sandy, more permeable in western side, to the silt-richer, solid of the easter, halfway between the Cottian Alps and the Ligurian Sea.

Mr. Giacomo, as we know, you have an education as an international political scientist and extensive work experience in the wine world, in particular, in Chianti and the Brunello di Montalcino consortium. How does all this affect the work at Consorzio dell’Asti e del Moscato d’Asti DOCG? What exactly did you change, what new vectors did you discover?

I don’t think you have to change or invent anything. It’s all there. Asti and Moscato d’Asti, as sparkling / fizzy wines, are versatile. That can really be a bonus, in terms of creating different lines of communication. And the history of this wine, make things even more interesting: a fore father of Asti Sparkling was created by Carlo Gancia in the 19th century based on Moscato grapes with the Traditional Method; in 1898 Federico Martinotti, Director of the oenological school in Asti, created the “tank fermentation” method, in order to improve the vinification process, and a the same time creating the circumstances for a new style of wine, less bubbly: the Moscato d’Asti. Asti DOCG is at the heart of the sparkling wines story. 

Since June 2014, the wine landscape of Langhe, Roero and Monferrato, consisting of 5 wine-growing areas, including Canelli and “Asti Spumante”, has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The recognition concerns not only the picturesque hills covered with vineyards and wineries, castles and centuries-old cellars, but also the role that Moscato bianco and Asti winemakers had and have in the development of the economy and the preservation of territories. How does the Consorzio dell’Asti work towards this program? We understand that the consortium’s participation in the international Wine Travel Awards for the second year in a row is an action in this direction. And what other events or programs for the promotion of these glorious territories and wineries on the world market are in your plans?

As a Consortium, we are concentrating on various projects of “place branding”. One consists of “explaining” the landscape through artistic installations, placed along the streets and roundabouts of the area of production for Asti, that recall the tradition for vine growing, clarifying the role of Moscato grapes in the local community.     

Judging by the composition of the Wine Travel Awards nominees from Asti (by the way, some of them, including the consortium itself, became winners of the public voting), we observe that not only wineries, but also attractions such as TrEno LMR serve as tourist sightseeing activity, historical Casa Martini & Rossi, Canelli and the Underground Cathedrals, Moscato Wine Route, etc. How does the consortium communicate with similar objects, maybe some unique collaborations are formed? Tell us about such an experience if you have one.

I believe that the role of Consortiums soon will focus increasingly more on tourism issues. With that in mind, we should build up a net that goes beyond our wineries, involving all the assets that can help growing a community, such as its historical and cultural heritage. 

Asti wines, thanks to their quality, lightness and possibilities of consumption – from aperitifs to cocktails – are becoming more and more popular. In addition, Consorzio dell’Asti has low-alcohol wines in its portfolio of winemakers. Please comment on this popular trend. Marketing research may have been conducted, please share your observations.

All over the world there’s an increasing interest for low alcohol wines. Asti Sparkling Dolce and Moscato d’Asti have always been naturally low in alcohol, as naturally sweet. Together with the aromatic profile, all these characteristics make our wine unique in the global scenario of GI/DOCG wines.

Did the consortium introduce any measures to encourage winemakers to produce low-alcohol wines?

The Consortium can support its wineries – by law –  only in the promotion and protection of the ASTI DOCG wines. 

It would also be interesting to learn about sustainable development initiatives among Asti winemakers. How are models of established farms being implemented in your territories, and what support do you provide for those who apply them in themselves?

Sustainable development has always been a key factor for many producers. In fact, the first BIO wine in Italy was a Moscato d’Asti, back in 1992.

We are now experimenting with a group of wineries a sustainability protocol that we’re planning to extend to the whole area, in order to obtain, in a few years’ time, the sustainability certification for the entire Appellation. 

If we talk about the export of wines, which countries’ markets are your priorities at the moment, who are the leaders in the consumption of your wines? Judging by the general statistics, Italy leads even in such developed wine-growing countries as France. Which European countries are in your area of interest?

The United States is the first market in the world for Moscato d’Asti, while Asti Sparkling has its main export end in the eastern European countries.   

We noted that the Consorzio dell’Asti has a rather unusual approach to the selection of its ambassadors. If most wine associations rely on sommeliers, the ranks of Asti’s ambassadors include bartenders, chefs, culinary schools, and the Accademia Maestri Pasticceri Italiani. And even among the ambassadors of Asti is the young tennis star Sonny (Lorenzo Sonego). Is this a particular strategy of the Consorzio dell’Asti? Who is its author? Do you attract guides or representatives of other professions to the clan of ambassadors?

Asti is a popular Docg in Italy, and to explain the versatility of these wines, we needed different characters. That’s how you can explain the food pairing (the famous Italian chef Alessandro Borghese), aperitif and mixology with the flair bartender Giorgio Facchinetti, top dessert with AMPI, and any celebration moment, through the tennis star Sonego. There’s always a reason for Asti. 

We see that the Consorzio dell’Asti also supports a large number of initiatives – it is the official sparkling final of the Nitto ATP tennis tournament and celebrated its 90th anniversary with an exhibition called “Novant’anni di bollicine”. What other creative marketing programs do you have in the works?

One of the next big goals is going to be developing a complex where to enhance the awareness of the appellation, making the exhibition permanent, where wine lovers will be able to understand and enjoy the unique history of Asti and its wines.    

Please announce in more detail the leading events – in fact, their number and variety is amazing – from official meetings and forums, to festivals, cocktail parties and gastronomic outings.

That would take a few pages. I would like to mention that only for the “local” promotion, there are 51 municipalities within the area of production of Asti DOCG, and nearly each of them every year has a specific event supported by the Consortium. Then add events such as Vinitaly, Prowein, London Wine fair, Guided Tasting in the US and other countries, Milano Wine Week, Collissioni Festival, Atp Tennis tournament … and many more.  

What new projects and concepts are you developing (perhaps together with regional promotion organizations) for the development and promotion of wine tourism in the coming years?

I believe the key should be promoting Piedmont as a whole, through the concept of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato, that can immediately bring people to a perception of excellent quality wines and food, in an outstanding landscape. 

If you single out only three leading missions of the consortium you lead today, which would you name first?

Increase the awareness of Asti Docg Wines and its territory, while giving stability to the production, in sustainable ways.   

How the one of the most famous DOCGs of Piedmont Consorzio dell’Asti is functioning, what are the new vectors and marketing strategies and in the framework of the Wine Travel Awards project as well, about the sustainable development initiatives among Asti winemakers it’s wines and new markets we disscuss with the consortium general director Mr. […]

Dr. Ricardo F. Nunez: «One big Reconstruction Plan for Ukraine will come after the war, like the Marshall Plan for Europe after World War II, because all the heroic resistance of Ukrainians has been aimed at protecting the freedom of the West»

Dr. Ricardo F. Nunez, founder and owner of the Vinos de La Luz group of companies, analyzes the special path of Ukraine in the modern historical context, the impact of the war on winemaking and the country’s prospects.

Dear Doctor! The Drinks+ editors for almost 10 years – please correct us if we are wrong – see your interest in the Ukrainian wine market: you participate in all specialized exhibitions and events in our country, maintain friendly relations with winemakers, go on tours around the regions, perform at seminars, as a sponsor, you support sommelier competitions and industry publications.

Since last year, Ukraine has been taking giant steps both in the development of wine quality, and in the evolution of business thinking so that Ukrainian consumers consume Ukrainian wine. In recent years, several medium companies made great efforts to act under the name of the united Ukrainian brand, and the big companies that already existed were maintained. In the middle of this process, russia proceeded with the full-scale invasion, based on the doctrine that Ukraine does not exist and that it is part of russia. Inhabitants of the East had to be internally displaced, millions of Ukrainians searched for a refuge abroad. Among these people are entrepreneurs, professionals and employees of the wine industry. Ukraine has been facing constant bombardments and destruction. Notwithstanding, all those who stayed or left the country did not stop being proactive, waiting to return, or reactivating – sometimes rebuilding – their own industries. If we look at the aftermath of the war, at first, it indicates that the invasion halted the development we are talking about, but in fact, in the month of September and before the harvest, the same protagonists were already activated who were promoting changes in the industry.

«Ukraine has been taking giant steps both in the development of wine quality, and in the evolution of business thinking so that Ukrainian consumers would choose Ukrainian wine»

Knowing your curiosity and analytical mindset, we can assume that you have a fairly complete  picture of the Ukrainian wine industry. Please share your observations on this matter: what are the disadvantages and what are the advantages of the Ukrainian wine industry.

In the middle of the disaster, that is, this war of annihilation, it would seem that there are no advantages,but one should not look at this topic as a photograph. In the medium term and when the conflict is over, no matter when the Marshall Plan appears, it will restore everything destroyed in the country, covering an integral wine industry, from vineyards to distribution of wine to the consumer. It is necessary to reconstruct a lot from the industry. I have a conviction that the Marshall Plan for Ukraine will come because all the heroic resistance of the Ukrainians has been aimed at defending the country, as well as protecting the freedom of the West. Countries that support Ukraine are now investing weapons or money to buy weapons. Then they will invest in its restoration, and wine in the reconstruction and modernization plans. This will be a unique opportunity and that is why you need to be active today, even if minimally active, making wine and delivering the message that the industry is on its feet, waiting for the war to end. On the other hand, the great disadvantage that I see is that there is no centralized organization that seriously represents the entire industry. I see a lot of personal issues involved, as well as envy in the leaders of the sector, and I think it’s very negative to be able to use the possibilities of the Marshall 2 Plan, this time aimed at Ukraine. The behavior of some leaders can cause irreparable damage to the wine industry, today and in the future.

Dr. Ricardo F. Nunez

Dr. Nunez, please share with us how you see this Marshall 2 Plan.

It will not be called the same for sure, but it will have those characteristics. The European Recovery Plan, known as the Marshall Plan, named for Secretary of State George Marshall, was launched for 4 years in 1948, after the Second World War. It was aimed at rebuilding and modernizing Europe. And the results are in full view – prosperous Europe for years, with an extraordinary quality of life, and with great economic strength. It was illogical that the Soviet Union did not want to participate and did not allow its satellite countries to do so, and the result was an industrial and commercial lag and a large difference in the growth of East Germany, Poland, Hungary, etc. When the war is over, the reconstruction plan will be implemented only for Ukraine, and the concentration of funds will be very important and strictly supervised. This will be the moment to use that tool to rebuild and modernize the industry. I support this in all the forums I participate in, and a few days ago I had a strong influence when I was invited to the opening of Vinexpo, which took place in the Hôtel de Talleyrand – I did not know that this was the place where the Marshall Plan was signed after the Second World War.

Dr. Ricardo F. Nunez

The opening of Vinexpo Paris 2023, Hotel de Talleyrand, the place where the Marshall Plan was signed after the World War II

As far as we understood, you have a missionary approach to any business you undertake. In particular, one of your recent missions is to support the Ukrainian delegation at the 43rd World Congress of the International Organization of Vine and Wine, which took place in October last year. As you know, Ukraine was once a member of this respectable international organization, but at a certain point it terminated its membership. Please provide more details on the question.

This topic is largely related to the shortcoming mentioned above, that in Ukraine there are no leaders who think more about the industry and its future, and not about constant rivalry among themselves. I know the OIV very well. For many years, I have been close to the presidents of the organization (Argentina, Germany, Brazil and today Italy) since I played that representative function for Argentina. All of these countries are member states of the OIV. But in this last period, magnificent and one of the best for me, the Director General is Pau Roca, a Spaniard who was the general director of the Spanish Federation of Wine, of which I am a member, and whom I supported strongly from the private sector for his election. The Ukrainian leader of one of the associations that unite wine producers – at least I know two such associations of a national level in Ukraine and the third who is improving the presence of Ukrainian wines inside and outside the country: the Ukrainian Association of Craft Winemakers – asked if I could support Ukrainian entry into the OIV, but he also informed me that there are some economic problems. I clearly remember my response: “This is an organization of states, states are members. There must be a governmental decision and official communication.” Shortly after the Russian invasion, he contacted me again and told me that President Zelenskyy had publicly stated that Ukraine should be part of every possible international organization that is related to its strategic existence. He also informed me that the Minister of Agriculture had the firm decision to move towards the OIV, but there were still economic constraints. Personally I think it was a great decision for Ukraine, because while russia denies its existence, Ukraine becomes a full member in a state organization. Everything was made step by step, and almost daily. The work of the Ministry of Agriculture was very dynamic. The president of Ukrsadvinprom, Volodymyr Pechko and Nataliia Burlachenko, worked against the clock to arrive at the Assembly in Mexico in November. One of my great emotions of these last years was to hear Pechko’s and Burlachenko’s speech at that Assembly, in Ukrainian and in English, stating that Ukraine is being accepted as a member and that they share greetings of the winegrowers from Crimea, Kherson, Odesa, and Transcarpatia – from all over Ukraine, claiming the sovereignty of Ukraine. It was a breathtaking and very touching moment. I think you have a recorded video now and should spread it. It was another battle won, because in this war everyone fights with the weapons they have.

«Ukrainians need to be active today, even if minimally active, making wine and delivering the message that the industry is on its feet, waiting for the war to end»

It is true that Ukraine has been on the sidelines of this organization for quite a long time only because there were no funds to pay off the debt and pay membership fees. If it’s not a secret, how is the issue resolved now?

Ukraine does not owe anything to the OIV and currently it does not cost a single hryvnia for Ukraine to be in the OIV. The previous debt has expired, the payment for the period from 2023 to 2025 is not required until 2026. The only thing that was paid is the period from November to December 2022 to use the opportunity not to pay for full years. All expenses of the delegation, including their business trips, were made at the expense of private donations.

So, who paid for that period of 2022?

It doesn’t matter who paid for it. Besides, they paid it as a donation to Ukraine, which will need to be processed when the war ends. Now is the time to continue donating.

You have made many donations. Please let us know what areas you decided to support and with whom you cooperated.

I will repeat myself, everyone fights with the weapons they have. I produce food in self-heating cans, I have sent hundreds of thousands of them to Ukraine, its children and soldiers. And Nataliia Burlachenko made a great contribution to this. Apart from that, we regularly donate a certain amount of money to contribute for the purchase of what the country needs. Also, we facilitate internal and international relationships that we have made available to the country.

And now, thanks to your efforts and the team of Ukrainian ambassadors, Ukraine has returned to the OIV family. How did the leadership of the OIV react to your efforts?

In an extraordinary way. It was they who made it possible to overcome the bureaucracy and marked the exact path to income.

Dr. Ricardo F. Nunez

Vinexpo Paris 2023

Who was on the team that went to Mexico City? How were the roles distributed between you?

I would like to clarify that I did not play any role. The Ministry of Agriculture appointed the President of Ukrsadvinprom as the head of the Delegation, and Nataliia Burlachenko as the deputy. There were issues of protocol, languages and knowledge of the environment in which Nataliia is well known, as well as in the topic of wine. They made the perfect duet. I had the honor to accompany them, but the official delegation was entirely Ukrainian.

Could you tell us in more detail what exactly membership in the OIV gives to member states?

The most important thing for Ukraine today is its presence as a sovereign nation producing wine. Believe me, this is a widespread feeling of the countries that make up the OIV, and it was noticed by the endless applause of all the free countries when Pechko and Burlachenko ended their speech. On the other hand, the OIV is an inexhaustible source of knowledge, including on technical issues, provided by more than 1000 experts and specialists, which will be extremely useful for Ukraine. There are already specialists from the Ukrainian research institutes of vine and wine, who are part of the OIV committees, which briefly say what needs to be done in the world of wine. That is why today it is best to be part of this board to follow directions. Another point is foreign investments that will come. It is difficult to invest in a country that is not integrated in the OIV because it is like investing in a country that has no voice or vote in the world.

«The OIV is an inexhaustible source of knowledge, including on technical issues, provided by more than 1000 experts and specialists, which will be extremely useful for Ukraine»

Today Ukraine is waging an unequal liberation war. There are opinions that integration into the world professional communities is not in time. What can you say about this? What advice would you give to representatives of the Ukrainian winemaking industry?

They must fight, and it is they who are trying to create conditions for the government to survive in the face of this terrible russian aggression. And they oblige their leaders to be united in their views on the present and future. Within 10, 15 or 20 years, Ukrainian viticulture will be the product of the chosen approach of producers united by a common development policy. In this emergency, only fools can believe that they will be saved alone.

What global challenges, in your opinion, are facing the wineproducing countries as a whole, which can only be solved through joint efforts?

The most important, without a doubt, is climate change. The consequences of this phenomenon are so great that the UK and Sweden are already wine-producing countries, while others are losing vast territories with their vineyards. Or suffer disasters in their grape production. In Argentina this season, when the red grape harvest falls in March, there have been five frosts. There is no historical record to tell us that my vineyards could freeze in February that were a month short of harvest. In studying the phenomenon and its prevention, OIV will be of great help, and, having connections with the wineries of the world, which are seriously working on this topic, will teach Ukrainian producers a lot.

Dr. Ricardo F. Nunez

Perhaps, for many, this fact will become an information bomb – you have recently become a Ukrainian winemaker and have even released your own wine! Please accept warm congratulations from the entire staff of Drinks+. And respect for your courage as an investor, as well as gratitude for your firm faith in Ukraine! That is, now wine from Ukraine is added to the constellation of wines from Argentina, Spain, Italy, the USA under the Vinos de La Luz brand. Actually it’s a sensation. Please let us know, if possible, the details.

Many years ago, we were behind the project for the production of red Ukrainian wine with the Odesa black variety. There are several opportunities that are being tackled in Ukraine to enable and give momentum to progress. But the war also came. And we decided that it was time to do our part to demonstrate that the vitivinicultural industry continues to struggle, as other producers do. And we decided to release wine before the year of the full-stale war. It was a huge effort of people who are part of La Luz wines, and here again Natalia Burlachenko appears, who is at the forefront of the Ukrainian company, which is a subsidiary of Vinos de La Luz. It is a magnificent idea because thanks to the artist Ivan Marchuk, we can reproduce some of his paintings on the bottle of this first edition and on future releases. Now the bottles look like works of art. And most importantly, Ukrainian works of art. It is a special edition of only 1000 bottles. We presented it on February 23, 2023 in Krakow at the opening of Marchuk’s mega exposition. The wine is Odesa Black 2020 aged 12 months in French oak. It will only go on sale in May, although I think the list of buyers exceeds the quantity produced.

«Russia must be removed from all international organizations, including the UN, where it still has a veto. That is what I believe in. However, there are rules that apply to everyone»

Today, a significant number of international organizations are getting rid of representatives of russia, recognized as a terrorist state. At the same time, this country is still among the members of the OIV. We know that you are one of the most ardent defenders of Ukraine, from the first days of the war and today you financially support the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and take an active pro-Ukrainian position in the international arena. How, in your opinion, should Ukraine’s position in the OIV develop on this issue?

Russia must be removed from all international organizations, including the UN, where it still has a veto. That is what I believe in. However, there are rules that apply to everyone. I was told that it was written in some media that the Director General of the OIV is pro-russian. This is nonsense. I know perfectly well what Pau Roca thinks, but in his position he cannot support one country at the expense of another. He follows the OIV Rules. If so, it was not Ukraine, it would not be within the OIV. And if the statute provides the possibility of excluding russia from the OIV, then the official Ukrainian delegation should give this fight. As in all wars, the first thing that dies is the truth. And in the midst of this war, attributing a pro-russian attitude to the Director General Pau Roca is really a delusional lie. In addition, the very leaders of Ukrainian associations who hug and take pictures with him, as recently happened at Vinexpo, should be the first to come to his defense. I want to pay extra attention to the topic: if I am a Ukrainian leader and I shook hands, hugged and took a picture with someone who is accused of being pro-Russian, I have two options, either I don’t hug him, or I stop being a leader.


Dr. Ricardo F. Nunez, founder and owner of the Vinos de La Luz group of companies, analyzes the special path of Ukraine in the modern historical context, the impact of the war on winemaking and the country’s prospects. Dear Doctor! The Drinks+ editors for almost 10 years – please correct us if we are wrong […]