Hearing an expat British person living in Bulgaria for the last 15 years pronounce “trunki” and “drenki” could be among the most adorable and refreshing things on a summer day. It is also a little bit embarrassing, to be honest, because most Bulgarians don’t say these words anymore. Young people from the cities don’t even know what these fruits are and what they look like. A reason for that might probably be that Facebook is not full of of “drenki” and “trunki” memes, they are not featured in the latest music videos and so on – this should be it, right? In any case, if you are younger than the author of this interview, here are a couple of royalty free pictures from the mother of all contemporary knowledge – Wikipedia.

During the upcoming Love Wines there will be several exciting master classes as we already explained, but without a doubt one of the most interesting ones will be by Jean Frederic, 13th generation from the upcoming Hugel family – "ALSACE: FRUIT & TERROIR SIDE BY SIDE". Since we love Alsace the choice of a class was easy but you have time until the 15th of March to save yourself a spot for this and the other master classes available, afterwards you might miss out. And now off we go to Alsace.

After the presenting of the medals and diplomas from Concours Mondial de Bruxelles 2017 (CMB) to the Bulgarian producers in Plovdiv last week we want to share a more in-depth glimpse of the present and future of the competition through the eyes of Thomas Costenoble. The benefits for our wineries exceed all expectations and in 2018 Bulgaria will host Concours Mondial de Bruxelles Spirits Selection, which is another incredible opportunity for our country, our spirits and Bulgaria’s image as a producer. In this interview with Thomas Costenoble you will learn a lot about one of Soain’s best wine regions an the second largest wine-growing area in the world, aka China

It is a pleasure to introduce to you a fellow wine writer: Hillary Zio. She is also a marketer of wines, a consultant and… well, an overall wine person that is lovely talking to. We shared a bottle of wine, doners, and a walk around the magical city of Sofia, followed by some cocktails together. So, despite my efforts to give Hillary a tummy ache, I think her trip here might have actually gone well. What is more, I believe her trip to Bulgaria makes her a powerful lifelong ambassador of Bulgarian wines, especially after having read her impressions in her Unfiltered newsletter that I highly recommend subscribing to. Let me tell you this unfiltered story that begins at a hotel lobby for lack of a better post-flight meeting point.

Get Your Spirits Up

This wonderful guy has so much to teach and tell. When I met him, I couldn’t help but admire his work ethic, attitude towards colleagues and open mindedness. We made a random promise to see each other for a study session later in life and here he is, just a few months later, flying out to Sofia to teach WSET Level 2 Spirits. I am happy to introduce to you a new friend, an old soul, a keen wine and spirits professional and a wonderful human being… with or without that stylish beard.

Medals, Markets and the Power of Cultural Products

As a Director of the CMB Spirits Selection, Thierry Heins is not simply an expert on spirits. He is a man with access to the best industry information and an incredible amount of industry professionals just a phone call away on a first name basis – something many people would consider quite cool which is why I am not going to bias you with my personal opinion. When I learned he was coming here to present the awards from CMB Spirits Selection 2016 to Bulgarian producers, I knew we had just the man who was going to tell us all we wanted to know about the global spirits market today.

Concours Mondial de Bruxelles comes to Bulgaria… and it could be more exciting than Bordeaux!

In order to provide you with the latest on Concours Mondial de Bruxelles (CMB) in Plovdiv expected just around the corner, I met Thomas Costenoble at Sofia Airport. Here is what he had to say.

Why Bulgaria in the first place and why are you here for this particular visit?

It will be the 23rd of the contest and more than 10 years ago we decided to move the contest and visit different and interesting, mostly wine-producing, countries. We are looking for a mix between wine regions and something trendy to tell about the destination. I was really surprised that after we decided to go to Plovdiv, a lot of people among the professionals were very excited. Part of this enthusiasm was curiosity because a lot of people know that Bulgaria is a very important wine producing country but they don’t know much about it. Many of our guests will be here to discover or rediscover the diversity and richness of Bulgarian viticulture. There is also a lot to show outside of viticulture. Plovdiv has great infrastructure dedicated to such occasions and I think all the details come together there to make a very successful event.

The Follow-up

Now that DWCC 2015 is over, we are talking to the organizers from Vrazon asking after their experience with Bulgaria as a host. Robert McIntosh and Ryan Opaz have a lot to say and we are thankful for their useful and detailed insights into our wine reality. Hopefully, we’ll learn how to do better.

A "crazy pianist" between London and Bulgaria

I am meeting Ivo Varbanov several hours before his flight. He was here for the harvest, a tasting event with his wines and a concert among other things. He has to leave for London in a while and I wonder if it would have been more appropriate to meet him at the airport for an interview and some spy-movie inspired scenes involving envelope exchange under the table and suspicious looks at the direction of the airport authorities. OK, OK! At least I was going to take a picture with airplanes taking off at the background so that you could soak up the atmosphere.

Getting ready for a big one!

Robert McIntosh (RM) of thirstforwine.co.uk & Ryan Opaz (RO) of catavino.net are the guys behind the Digital Wine Communications Conference (DWCC). When they started just a few years ago, there were only 30 attendees and not much to brag about. Their company is called Vrazon, inspired by the French “véraison” or the change of color of the grape berries used for the production of wine but of course you already knew that, didn’t you? Things really seem to be getting riper for them as this year’s 8thedition of the conference will gather more than 250 wine writers and experts from around the world in the city of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. As proud host bloggers, we managed to get an interview with them and hope to show their many faces.

Sharing the Good news About Wine

Congratulations are in order! Hip-hip-hooray! We proudly present to you a brand new Master of Wine, a true commander: Yiannis Karakasis. We had the pleasure of studying under him at WSPC in Athens this September so it was inevitable to ask him for an interview and introduce him to a wider audience. We definitely recommend that you enjoy this interview over a glass of Vinsanto (you will see why shortly) but if you find yourself short on Vinsanto, do pour yourself a favorite drink and read on!

MW, More than Words

Meeting Caroline Gilby, MW was all we expected it to be. She is a person you could listen to for hours if only their schedule and patience allowed it. At this point, I am convinced that about 50% of the Master of Wine title is awarded for these people’s tremendous knowledge about wine and another 50% for their astounding communication skills. It may not be a precise 50/50 blend but it is close. These people (and I am not discriminating here) are amazing at talking to all sorts of weirdoes: organizers, winemakers, journalists, myself included, with all of their agendas, provocations and demands. In person, Caroline is a delicate, charming and memorable lady that carries the superpower of a Master of Wine with ease and grace in her own very British kind of way… naturally. And, yes, you could say that this is what being a true professional is all about but, as you know is often the case in the wine industry, no exception here, there is a lot more soul and style in her to just doing her job right.

The beauty and goodness of wine.

In good wine stores around the world, you will often see bottles with the GAJA label. They are usually refrigerated, limited in number and positioned as proud representatives of the best that Italian wines have to offer. Having visited a handful of the best Italian wineries on our trip, we knew that the picture would not be complete without a conversation with Gaia Gaja about the essence and future of GAJA wines.

Twenty Years in the Wine Industry and the New BIWC 2015

On the day of her 20th anniversary of her first work day in Domain Menada we meet with Galina Niforou, undoubtedly one of the most active persons in the Bulgarian wine industry. She is the force behind Balkans International Wine Competition (BIWC), the Festival of Wine and Cultural Heritage Avgustiada, she is Chairwoman of the Managing Committee of the Bulgarian Wine Exporters Association (BWEA) and owner of the consulting company OINORAMA Wine Consulting. Many titles, many abbreviations and in a second - many figures. That's how it is like in the company of Galina Niforou.

Konstantinos Lazarakis is currently the only Master of Wine on the Balkans but beyond that, as you are about to find out, he is also an extremely pleasant collocutor, a gentleman and well, charming, in his very Greek kind of way. Just having flown back from the London Wine Fair, where he spread the word about the latest Bulgarian and Greek wine achievements (we appreciate that wholeheartedly), he is in Sofia, Bulgaria to once again be chairman, judge and master class lector at the Balkans International Wine Competition (BIWC) 2014.