The Balkans International
Wine Competition
Sofia 17 - 20 May 2018
The Balkans International
Wine Competition
Sofia 17 - 20 May 2018

// Judges 2018

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Konstantinos Lazarakis MW

BIWC Chairman, Greece
Konstantinos Lazarakis MW

After studying jazz guitar and mechanical engineering on the National & Technical University of Athens, I became Sommelier of Jajazzo Restaurant in Athens - the first restaurant in Greece to hire a full time sommelier and the first to be awarded a Michelin star.
Now I work as an Imports Manager and Wine Buyer in AIOLOS ltd and the Managing Director of Wine and Spirits Professional Consultants that run WSET courses in Greece.
In the last two years I have been involved in wine writing and wine journalism and I now write for four Greek publications as well as having 'Wines of Greece' published as a part of the Mitchell Beazley Classic Wine Library in Sept. 2005. In addition, I consult for wine producers, hotels and restaurants.

Count John Umberto Salvi MW

United Kingdom / France
Count John Umberto Salvi MW

Count John Salvi is an English Master of Wine who has lived for the last 35 years in Bordeaux.  He is also an oenologist who studied under the famous Professor Peynaud at Bordeaux University.

After 40 years in the wine trade as negociant, shipper, wine-maker and professional taster, he now devotes his time to sharing his great knowledge with wine-lovers.  Apart from travelling extensively to the many vineyard areas of the world, where he is much in demand as judge, consultant and taster, he accompanies and guides the wine-tours of his wife Nellie Salvi’s company Vino Fino.  John lives in Margaux, in the Medoc, not five minutes from Chateau Margaux, and was involved with Chateau Palmer for 40 years.

he is a professional wine-writer and journalist, a member of the British Circle of Wine Writers, founder and committee member of the Federation Internationale des Journalistes et Ecrivains de Vin (Brussels), member of the Association Francaise des Jounalistes et Ecrivains de Vin (Paris), member of the Senior Livery of the Worshipful Company of Vintners (Great Britain), member of the Institute of Masters of Wine (London), and represents Great Britain at the International Union of Oenologists.

Passionate about food and wine, especially the marriage of food and wine without snobbery or mysticism, he is also a member of the French Institute of Gastronomy, The Association Française pour la Gastronomie et le Tourisme (Paris), and the Association des Informateurs et Chroniqueurs dans le Domaine de la Gastronomie et du Vin (APCIG, Paris).

Jo Ahearne MW

Australia/ Croatia
Jo Ahearne MW

Jo Ahearne MW first worked in the wine trade in the early 1990s at Oddbins in Central London and after two years went to Australia to work a vintage for Charles Melton, with his Nine Popes and Rose of Virginia wines in the Barossa Valley.

Following this she enrolled on a winemaking degree at Charles Sturt University in Australia, whilst also working at Pipers Brook, Bailey's of Glenrowan, Leasingham and Tintara wineries. On graduation, Ahearne worked as a flying winemaker in Spain and France, returned to the winemaking team at Charles Melton and spent four years making the global brand Jacob’s Creek.

In 2004, Ahearne moved back to the UK to blend wines for high end supermarket, Marks & Spencer, before a stint as wine and spirits buyer for the iconic luxury retailer Harrods. She now works as a winemaking consultant in France, Spain, Italy, Hungary and Macedonia while making her own wine in Hvar Croatia. She passed her Master of Wine qualification in 2008.

Isa Bal MS

Turkey/ United Kingdom
Isa Bal MS
Isa Bal MS  has been in the wine business for last 17 years. Isa Bal won "The Best Sommelier in Europe" award in 2008 in Sofia, Bulgaria.  His focus largely has been in the in trade field focusing on fine dining.
 
Travels extensively to the lesser known wine regions of the world and takes pleasure from new discoveries. Isa has been the Group Head Sommelier of the Fat Duck restaurant - 3 Micheline stars restaurant for the past 12 years.
 
Since January 2018  Isa Bal is running his own consultancy business focusing on restaurants, wineries and distribution channels.

Igor Luković

Serbia
Igor Luković

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

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

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

Hing Cheng

Hong Kong/ China
Hing Cheng

Hing Cheng is one of the leading wine specialists in China. Born in Hong Kong, he works for the last 35 years in the wine industry at key positions in various organizations and companies.

Hing Cheng works as a Head Sommelier at The Regent Hotel Hong Kong between 1983 and 1990 and his contribution to the development of wine culture in Hong Kong is remarkable. Between 1987 and 1989 he is a lecturer in Sopexa Hong Kong – a branch of a French agency for marketing communications in wine business, food and lifestyle. In 1990 he won “The Best Sommelier in Hong Kong” award.

2003 till now Hing Cheng is Product director of the Chinese company “Jointek Fine Wine”, which is the biggest importer of the most expensive French wines in China.

Horia Hasnas

Romania
Horia Hasnas

Journalist starting with 1993, he has worked in a variety of roles, mainly in newspapers but also in television, as a reporter, editor, columnist and commentator. His journey through the wine world started in a natural manner: as wine lover and collector. His love for written stories and also for fine wines led him to the decision of starting a wine blog named “Vindinpresa” but the decisive step was made in January 2011 when he got his break as a wine writer - editor of “Vinul.Ro” magazine, which is the main publication in Romania dedicated to wine, wine producers and wine-savvy readers. Playing the editorial role by pairing suggestions and culinary trends, showcasing wine as an indispensable companion at the table, probing interviews and critical reviews he gain an extensive expertise by regularly participating in wine-tasting, national and international wine fairs and festivals and being member of wine-juries.

Elias Macovela

Mozamdique/ Portugal
Elias Macovela

Wine was always part of Elias’s life, but his relationship with it became more intense since his 21 years old, when he moved to Portugal. At that time, he started to visit the main wine cellars in Lisbon, buy wine, always keep an eye out for the main novelties on the market and build his own personal wine cellar.

In 2011 he started his wine blog and in 2014 he attended a postgraduate course in Wine Business at ISEG / ISA. In 2016 he started his company „My Wine Tours“. In 2016 & 2017 he was invited to be one of the judges of The Wine Book of Romania and part of the jury of “Concurso Escolha da Imprensa” by the wine magazine Vinho Grandes Escolhas and “ Concurso de Vinhos da Beira Interior” - a wine region in Portugal.

Dimitar Nikolov

Bulgaria
Dimitar Nikolov

Dimitar Nikolov has 14 years experience in the wine industry as a sommelier, wine buyer, wine judge, wine writer and educator. Starting his career as a sommelier for a major hotel chain and at a restaurant in Chicago, Nikolov then returned to his native Bulgaria to work for Metro Cash & Carry, firstly as the wine buyer for Bulgaria, and then was promoted to category manager for Metro Cash & Carry’s entire Russian Federation operations, which saw him move to Russia. After five years with the company, Nikolov was appointed to a top management position at a wine importer specializing in Hungarian wines.

Upon returning to Bulgaria, he created apollowine.com, online wine shop where he offers a selection of boutique wines from Bulgaria. He holds qualifications from the ISG Chicago, the WSET advanced certificate, and is currently studying for the WSET Diploma. He is the co-founder of Wine and Spirits Academy Bulgaria (WSAB) located in Sofia, Bulgaria where he is teaching WSET courses. 

Ivana Simjanovska

Macedonia
Ivana Simjanovska

Ivana has been part of the wine trade since 2007, beginning as one of the co-founders and members of the board of the first Macedonian Wine Club, organizing wine tasting events and promoting wine culture in Macedonia, followed by co-authoring and publishing of the first Macedonian Wine Guide 2011 along with Dave Vlam and the second edition of MWG 2014 with Paul Caputo.

Today, Ivana is an international wine writer, critic and wine judge, having participated at some of the most prestigious wine competitions in Europe. She has also lectured on specialised subjects promoting Macedonian wines at numerous wine festivals and fairs throughout Europe.

Along with contributing to several magazines and wine publications she is also editor-in-chief of www.vino.mk, Macedonia's first online wine magazine, is a #winelover ambassador and works as Wine Tourism Specialist at Macedonia Experience. Ivana maintains a personal blog www.ivanasimjanovska.com and as of 2013 has been pursuing her Masters Degree in Enology at the Insitute of Agriculture in Skopje.

Evangelos Beris, Ph.D.

Greece
Evangelos Beris, Ph.D.

Dr. Evangelos Beris holds a Ph.D. in Viticulture, M.Sc. in Biology and WSET Advanced. Since 2014, he is teaching as an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Oenology & Beverage Technology of Athens University of Applied Sciences (TEI of Athens), both at the Under-graduate course (B.Sc., in Oenology & Beverage Technology) and the Post-graduate programme (M.Sc., in Wine and Beer Science).

He is the Director of the study programme: “Viticulture & Oenology” at IEK Praxis in Athens. Moreover, he has been working for several years as a Seminar Instructor and a Consultant of Viticulture, Wine Production and Wine Tourism. He has recently been consulting and collaborating with Estate Argyros (Santorini - Greece).

Peder Larsen

Denmark
Peder Larsen

Peder has been part of the wine trade since 2004, working with both import, retail and travel retail. One aim for Peder has been to increase the awareness of Eastern European and not least Hungarian wines in Denmark. Peder is an examined Sommelier and holds WSET Advanced and also acts as wine educator and wine communicator. Partly by hosting numerous tastings for companies and wine clubs and partly blogging and writing about wine on social medias, being a #winelover ambassador to Denmark. Peder is a wine judge and an experienced taster - amongst other things, Peder is a regular participant at the annual Danish Blindtasting Championship.

Martin Smid

Czech republic
Martin Smid

Martin Smid  graduated at the Special high school of Technology in the field of beer, wine and spirit production (the Czech Republic). I finished WSET on the level  “Diploma in wines and spirits” and  gained the “Weinakademiker“ titul at Weinakademie Österreich.

Martin is  a holder of International taster certificate (ISO) and an experienced wine-taster.

MArtin took part in competitions in the Czech Republic as well as International competitions, e.g., Vinalies, Paris (France), VinAgora, Budapest (Hungary), Concours des Grands Vins Blancs du Monde, Strasbourg(France), Le Mondial des Pinots, Sierre (Switzerland), AWC, Vienna (Austria), Le Concours International de Lyon, Lyon, (France), Le Concours International des Cabernet, Paris, (France) etc.

Klearchos Kanellakis

Greece/ United Kingdom
Klearchos Kanellakis
Klearchos Kanellakis has been working as a Sommelier for the last 10 years. He worked as a Sommelier in Greece for 5 years. He was the head Sommelier  for the 5 star  hotel Aquila Elounda village in Crete. His carrear as a Sommelier continue in a funky gourmet 2 Michelin star restaurant in Athens, Greece. Klearhos worked as a Assistand Head Sommelier for Botrinis restaurant 1 Michelin Star,  in the best Greek restaurant Etrusco  in Corfu as Head Sommelier . 
For the last 2 years he moved to the UK  and works as Sommelier for 67 Pall Mall private members wine club since its  opening day. Pall Mall  has the biggest wine list in the UK (5000 bins), the biggest by the glass list in the world (700 bins) and he is a part of a 15-sommelier talented team under the guidance of head of wine Ronan Sayburn MS.