The Balkans International
Wine Competition
Sofia 1 - 4 June 2017
The Balkans International
Wine Competition
Sofia 1 - 4 June 2017

// Judges 2017

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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.

Caroline Gilby MW

United Kingdom
Caroline Gilby MW

Caroline Gilby became Master of Wine in 1992 after abandoning a life behind the microscope. She walked away from a degree in Botany and a PhD in Plant Sciences to achieve this highest title in the world of wine professionals. In 1988, she joined August Barnett as wine buyer. Since 1995, she has worked as freelance wine writer and independent consultant in the areas of wine quality, tasting techniques, brand development, competitive research, technical specifications, and range selection. She is a regular contributor to a variety of web sites, including DiVino.bg, and, frequently, a judge at international wine competitions.

Caroline Gilby is a member of the Circle of Wine Writersand has lectured on the UK wine market for the OIV’s Master of Science in Wine Management program (2003-2008). She was board director of the UK Wine Standards board for four years on appointment by the Minister of Agriculture of the UK.
  

Christy Canterbury MW

USA
Christy Canterbury MW

Christy Canterbury  MW is an experienced wine buyer, journalist and educator with over a decade of experience working with some of the most renowned restaurants, wine merchants and winemakers to create world-class wine offerings.

 Christy has used her background in finance and purchasing in her positions as the National Wine Director for Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group and the Corporate Beverage Director for Culinary Concepts by Jean-Georges, where she opened and managed restaurants from Istanbul and Doha to Vancouver and Bora Bora.

She is a judge for the Ultimate Wine Challenge, an educator at New York's Astor Center and Chief Wine Officer, a panelist for TASTED and Wine & Spirits magazines, the Wine Editor for the Garrubbo Guide, the Italy Wine Editor for the Professional Wine Reference.

Christy also holds the titles Diploma of Wine & Spirits from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust in London and Certified Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers. 

Rod Smith MW

United Kingdom /France
Rod Smith MW

Rod Smith MW is a wine educator, marketer and salesman, based in the South of France. Currently with a client list that includes the world’s wealthiest, most discerning and demanding customers, Rod is the wine director of Vins Sans Frontières – the leading wine supplier to the superyacht industry.
Prior to this, Rod has worked in the UK for a variety of fine wine importers and retailers, as well as being an established WSET educator and occasional journalist. A Master of Wine since 2006, Rod has been extensively involved in judging wine competitions in London, Shanghai and Moscow.
Rod’s personal interests include cycling, running, travel, literature, card magic and film.

Luiz Alberto

USA
Luiz Alberto

Luiz Alberto is a Brazilian with Italian blood and an American heart - very complex as a great wine must be! As a person who truly loves wine, and with more than the simple desire to imbibe the drink, Luiz has an eagerness to appreciate and learn everything that relates to wine. Luiz has quite an extensive list of wine-related activities. Here are just a few examples; Founder & CEO of TheWineHub, Founder of the #winelover community, Founder & CEO of the #winelover Against Cancer Foundation, a Master of Wine student, a Member of the Circle of Wine Writers of London, an Italian Wine Ambassador, collaborator at the #ILoveGreekWine project, a Judge at international wine competitions, and is a wine educator and communicator.

Maria Sofia Dare Biancolin

Germany /Italy
Maria Sofia Dare Biancolin

Maria Sofia Darе Biancolin deals with wine more than 23 years. As a manager in Italy, Australia and South Africa, she promotes the Italian food and wine, especially in Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.

Since 2006, Sofia is a chairwoman of DE.S.A. GERMANY - organization of sommeliers that unites all Italian professional and amateur sommeliers, both in Germany and in other European countries.

Thanks to the many business trips, Sofia has developed a great talent for analyzing foreign markets and cultures, to prepare successful strategic marketing plans in terms of price, product, promotion and positioning in different markets.

Wine and communicating an important concept that is absolutely  necessary, especially for the Nordic markets. DE.SA cooperate with the most important marketing agencies in Germany.

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.

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.

Saša Špiranec

Croatia
Saša Špiranec

Saša Špiranec works  in Vinart d.o.o., consultant company who publish wine and food editions, keep wine educations, freelance in different journals and magazines, organize leading Dalmatian wine event – Dalmacija Wine Expo, create different projects in wine marketing and organize wine events. Head of Vinolab d.o.o., laboratory for wine analyses.

Born 1970. In wine trade since 1995. Since 2005. Writing wine guides and books, appears regularly in daily Jutarnji List and several monthly magazines. Judging international wine competitions as IWC London (UK), Concours Mondial de Bruxelles (Belgium), BIWC in Sofia (Bulgaria), IWCB Bucharest (Romania), VTV Belgrade (Serbia), and many local in Croatia. Keeps classes and masterclasses on wine with a focus on wine regions of Central and Eastern Europe. 

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.

Yasen Zahariev

Bulgaria
Yasen Zahariev

Yasen Zahariev covers California, Australia, and New Zealand on tastings of DiVino. His first participation in a wine campaign happens in 1999 in California. He has worked for several cellars in California and South Australia. In 2006 he was invited for the foundation of the Wine Spectator Club and participates in the regular monthly tastings up to the present moment. He also participates in the monthly tastings of the National Wine and Spirituous Beverages Research Institute, Wine Index. He has tasted for Bacchus Magazine, www.e-vestnik, etc. Yasen maintains his own wine blog since 2007. He also teaches philosophy in New Bulgarian University.

Vili Galabova

Bulgaria
Vili Galabova

Villy Galabova is one of the best wine experts in Bulgaria. She is a manager of Vino Aqua Vita Bulgaria and one of the founders of the Bulgarian Wine Academy. 15 years and more of experience and expertise in the wine industry. Specialist with an international experience and recognition, and the first Bulgarian to receive education in the most prestigious educational institution in the world – The London Institute of Masters of Wine. She is the first and so far the only Bulgarian an international wine judge at the International Wine and Spirit competition.

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.

Julia Kostadinova

Bulgaria

Julia Kostadinovais editor-in-chief of DiVino.bg, a wine taster with many years of experience, and a member of a number of international tasting commissions. Wine editor of Bacchus Magazine from its founding until 2009. Co-creator of the competition 'Bulgarian Wine of the Year'. Covers Bulgaria, Greece, Chile and Argentina on tastings of DiVino.