Walk-Around Tasting — Final Chord of the Wine Travel Awards Ceremony 

Wine Travel Awards Ceremony

The third year of Wine Travel Awards is officially finished! The WTA Ceremony 2023–2024 was a resounding success, bringing together a diverse group of wine and travel enthusiasts from around the world. Held on May 21st at Olympia, London, the event was a culmination of the year-long campaign to recognize and celebrate excellence in wine tourism.

The ceremony was graced by a distinguished gathering of guests, including current and past WTA participants, nominees and winners, esteemed guests such as the ambassadors of Moldova and Armenia, and wine and tourism professionals. Guests had the privilege of witnessing the presentation of awards, listening to a keynote address by Robert Joseph, a respected member of the WTA jury, editorial consultant, and columnist for Meininger’s Wine Business International, on the topic of Wine Tourism: Benefits and Challenges, and indulging in a grand tasting session that served as a fitting finale to the Wine Travel Awards 2023–2024.

We invite you to have this post-event excursion to six countries presented at the WTA walk-around tasting this year!

Georgia — SHUMI Winery

SHUMI Winery is situated in a historical location, adjacent to the A. Chavchavadze Museum and National Park. The estate spans 9 hectares of land, providing a diverse infrastructure for exploration. The 2019 territory of the SHUMIcomplex has been recognized as the most beautiful in Georgia. The vineyards themselves are home to an impressive ampelographic collection—the largest private collection in the world, featuring over 1300 grape varieties, some of which are exclusive to this vineyard.

shumi

SHUMI Winery — the winner in the Must Visit category — participated in the walk-around tasting accompanied the WTA Ceremony in London:

🍷Kakhuri Mtsvane Shumi 2020

Kakhuri Mtsvane is a white grape variety native to Georgia. SHUMI Winery’s Kakhuri Mtsvane offers aromas of apple and lemon zest.

🍷Khikhvi Iberiuli 2018

SHUMI Winery’s Khikhvi Iberiuli is made using traditional qvevri amphora maceration. Expect an elegant orange wine with notes of tree fruit, herbs, and grapevine.

SHUMI bottles

🍷Mukuzani Shumi 2020

Mukuzani is a red wine made from 100% Saperavi grapes. Aged for three years in French oak barrels, it exhibits black cherry, black raspberry, baking spices, and a slight char on the nose.

🍷Saperavi Iberiuli 2021

Grown in the vineyard Didkure, these grapes undergo traditional winemaking techniques. The wine is elegant, rich, and balanced, with velvet tannins, dark berry notes, and a memorable, lingering finish.

SHUMI

Italy — Tenuta Manoylo

Tenuta Manoylo was established in 2014 by the Manoylo family who found the perfect place to make their dream come true amidst the hills surrounding the picturesque medieval village of Moresco.

It is a new star in Marche’s crown. Literally the “Discovery of the year” for us was the Italian Tenuta Manoylo, which has just taken its first steps on the world stage.

Tenuta Manoylo

The guests of the WTA Ceremony in London had a unique chance to try the wines from Tenuta Manoylo — the winner in the Progressive Approach category:

🍷Passo del Borgo Marche IGT Passerina 2021

Passerina is an ancient and traditional Marche grape variety. Its name derives from the sparrows (“passeri” in Italian) that love to peck at the grapes of this vine.

🍷Falerio DOC Pecorino 2021

Pecorino, an autochthonous variety from the Marche region, has experienced a real Renaissance after years of oblivion. Crafted completely from estate grown grapes, it is a well-structured white wine with a surprisingly long after tasting, refreshing acidity and medium body.

🍷Marche IGT Sangiovese 2021

Sangiovese has a very ancient history, and its name is believed to derive from the Latin “Sanguis Jovis” (blood of Jupiter), the ancient Italic god of the sky and moon, king of all gods.

New Zealand — Cloudy Bay

The winery was founded in 1985 by David Hohnen and Kevin Judd. Their first Sauvignon Blanc received international recognition and put New Zealand wine on the map. Cloudy Bay joined Veuve Clicquot in 1990 and in 2003 became part of the LVMH family. Today, this outstanding winery is not only an exceptional location for wine tourism, but under the leadership of the famous top manager Yang Shen, it produces wines that are deservedly included in the top league of fan wine.

Cloudy Bay

During the walk-around tasting at the London Wine Fair Cloudy Bay — the winner in the Brand – the Visiting Card of the Country category — was presented by the following wines:

🍷Pelorus NV Methode Traditionelle 2021

Pelorus is a New Zealand sparkling wine crafted using the méthode traditionnelle. It features a pale straw colour, aromas of ripe citrus, apple, and lemon, and a toasty, creamy palate with a nutty finish.

🍷Sauvignon Blanc 2023

It is enticing and appealing, with notes of honeydew melon, passionfruit, citrus, and blackcurrant leaf. The palate is concentrated and elegant, balancing ripe fruit with fresh sea air.

🍷Te Wahi Pinot Noir 2019

Te Wāhi, meaning ‘the place’ in te reo Māori, is a powerful Central Otago Pinot Noir. It offers dark berry fruit, structured tannins, and warm spice notes. Pair it with game meats or roasted vegetables.

Cloudy bay

Moldova

Let’s reveal what wines this countries was presented at the WTA event, because the Wine Days of Moldova have been awarded the status of Magnet of the Region:

Château Purcari

With a history dating back to 1827, Château Purcari is one of the oldest wineries in Moldova. Visitors can explore its cellars, learn about wine making traditions, and appreciate the heritage.

Nestled in the Ștefan-Vodă district, the winery is surrounded by rolling vineyards, lush landscapes, and scenic views.

🍷Chateau Purcari Negru de Purcari 2020

A red wine from Moldova, this blend is made from 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Saperavi, and 5% Rară Neagră grapes. It boasts black fruit notes of plum, blackberry, and blackcurrant, with a velvety taste balanced by oak and fruit tones.

🍷Chateau Purcari Rara Neagra 2022

Another red wine, this one is 100% Rară Neagră. Expect a distinctive, low-tannin, and acidic wine with complex aromas of chocolate and plum, and a smooth oak aftertaste.

🍷Chateau Purcari Viorica de Purcari 2022

A white wine from Moldova, this Viorica de Purcari has citrus notes of lemon, grapefruit, and a fresh, elegant body with gentle acidity.

 Chateau Vartely Winery

Chateau Vartely is a premium Moldovan winery located in the village of Orhei, in the central winemaking region of the country. Established in 2006, it has quickly gained acclaim for producing outstanding wines that showcase the unique terroir of Moldova. The guests had a chance to taste the following wines:

🍷Chateau Vartely Dealu Nucului Cabernet Sauvignon 2021

This elegant Cabernet Sauvignon boasts ripe black fruit flavours and smooth tannins. Aged in oak barrels, it reflects the quality standards of acclaimed wine regions.

🍷Chateau Vartely Dealu Nucului Feteasca Regala & Sauvignon Blanc 2023

This 2023 blend combines Moldova’s indigenous Feteasca Regala grape with Sauvignon Blanc. Expect a refreshing white wine with potential citrus and grassy notes, perfect for summer enjoyment.

Radacini

Radacini Winery is a leading producer in Moldova, known for its dedication to quality and diverse range of wines. They combine modern winemaking techniques with grapes grown in their own extensive vineyards across Moldova (over 1,000 hectares).

🍷Radacini Pinot Grigio 2022

This crisp and refreshing Pinot Grigio is a dry white wine. It likely offers citrus and stone fruit aromas, making it a versatile choice for seafood or lighter fare.

🍷Radacini Metier Brut Alb 2021

This Metier Brut Alb translates to White Brut Craft and suggests a dry sparkling white wine. It’s likely light-bodied and refreshing, perfect for an aperitif or celebrating a special occasion.

 Apriori Wine

Apriori Wine originates from southern Moldova, a region known for its high-quality grapes. They source their grapes from the Cantemir and Taraclia regions, along the Prut River, and near the Codrii Tigheciului natural reserve.

🍷Apriori Wine Maestro Limited Edition Secret Blend Bottle Reserve 2022

This is a blend of undisclosed grapes. Intrigue yourself with its unique and unknown flavour profile, promised to be a captivating experience for wine enthusiasts.

🍷Apriori Wine Maestro Cuvee Blanc Alb Brut 2021

This sparkling white wine is crafted using the traditional method, likely by Apriori’s Maestro line. Expect refreshing citrus notes and a touch of elegance, perfect for celebrating or enjoying as an aperitif.

România

Gramofon Wine

Step into the rich tapestry of history as you discover Gramofon Wine’s historic cellars, where time-honoured winemaking traditions merge seamlessly with modern techniques. Marvel at the architectural splendour of the winery, a testament to centuries of winemaking excellence. This unique Romanian winery also was presented at the walk-around tasting:

🍷VIRTUOZ FETEASCA REGALA — DRY 2021

A tribute to Romania’s flagship white grape, Fetească Regală, this wine evokes intricate fabrics and folk costumes. It offers silky layers of yellow plums and spiced pears, making it a perfect introduction to this grape variety.

🍷VIRTUOZ FETEASCA NEAGRA — OFF DRY 2021

This wine, made from the Fetească Neagră grape, strikes a balance between sweetness and dryness. Expect flavours of ripe dark berries and a touch of oak.

🍷GRAMOFON WINE SAUVIGNON BLANC — DRY 2020

From the Dealu Mare region in Romania, this Sauvignon Blanc offers fresh citrus notes and green grass aromas. A delightful white wine with a rating of 4.0 on Vivino.

🍷GRAMOFON WINE CUVEE — MERLOT/FETEASCA NEAGRA/CABERNET SAUVIGNON — DRY 2022

It is visually captivating with deep ruby hues. It combines Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Fetească Neagră, resulting in a complex taste profile. Expect ripe berry flavours, subtle cherry notes, and a harmonious finish.

 Jidvei – the Public Voting winner in the Must Visit category

Nestled in the heart of Transylvania, Romania, Jidvei boasts a rich heritage and a commitment to excellence that spans over decades. This prestigious winery is renowned for its exquisite range of wines that capture the essence of the region’s terroir.

Jidvei was showing to the London WIne Fair audience the following exciting wines:

🍷PINOT NOIR ROSU, 2019 red

It offers exceptional aromatic complexity, with juicy red fruit sensations complemented by mature and velvety notes from brief bottle ageing. Expect flavours of fresh cherries, raspberries, and black currants, along with pleasant hints of sweet wood, cigar leaves, and tanned leather.

🍷GRIGORESCU FETEASCA REGALA, 2023, SGR white

It is a delicate white wine that captivates with its harmonious composition and freshness. It presents unmistakable aromas of acacia flowers and well-ripened lemons.

🍷OWNERS CHOICE ANA, SAUVIGNON BLANC 2023 white

It is named after the winemaker Michiel Eradus’s daughter. It’s a zesty and fresh Marlborough-style Sauvignon Blanc. A delightful wine for fans of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.

🍷OWNER’S CHOICE MARIA, PINOT GRIS, 2022, white

The wine is a dry, medium-bodied wine with notes of apricot, green apples, white blossoms, and minerality.

🍷Sparkling Wine, Jidvei, the traditional method, Extrabrut White, DOC-CMD

The Extrabrut White is crisp and refined, made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Fetească Regală grapes.

Jidvei

France — Le Grand Noir

Established in the early 21st century, the winery has quickly gained recognition for its dedication to producing wines of outstanding character and complexity.  Le Grand Noir comes from ancient Southern French landscapes with a huge diversity of soils, altitudes and microclimates and was created on the initiative of WTA judge Robert Joseph. The guests of LWF 2024 also could meet this winery at the WTA tasting with the following samples:

🍷Le Grand Noir Chardonnay 2022

This French white wine is made by Les Celliers Jean d’Alibert in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. It features a brilliant golden-yellow colour and aromas of pineapple, mango, ginger, butter, and vanilla.

🍷Le Grand Noir GSM Red Blend 2021

A blend of Grenache, Syrah (Shiraz), and Mourvèdre, this red wine hails from the Minervois region in France. Expect intense aromas of licorice, cocoa, and spice, along with rich complexity and soft tannins.

Georgia — K’AVSHIRI

The seeds of K’AVSHIRI date back to 1988 when Robert Joseph, then wine critic of the London Sunday Telegraph and founder-chairman of the International Wine Challenge, made his first trip to Georgia…

The outcome of an ambitious project that began in 2018, K’AVSHIRI is a joint venture between Robert Joseph and Vladimer Kublashvili of Winery Khareba.  From  the outset, the two men set out to make a totally original wine that showcased a range of Georgian grape varieties and traditional qvevri winemaking. Located in the Imereti region of Georgia, the winery offers stunning views of vineyards, rolling hills, and traditional Georgian architecture. Visitors can immerse themselves in the natural beauty while savouring the wines produced on-site.

This year, Robert Joseph presented the unique samples of K’AVSHIRI at the WTA walk-around tasting in London. The wines included:

🍷K’AVSHIRI White 2022

This intriguing Georgian white blend combines ten grape varieties, including indigenous ones like Krakhuna, Rkatsiteli, Mtsvane, Tsolikouri, Mtsvivani, Khikvi, Aligote, Tsitska, Muscat, and Kisi.

🍷K’AVSHIRI Assemblage Red 2022

It is groundbreaking, blending air-dried Aladasturi grapes with Saperavi co-fermented with white Rkatsiteli and Mtsvane grapes. Nearly 24% of this wine was fermented in traditional Qvevri, adding to its complexity and character.

Georgia — Shaloshvili Cellar

It is not just a winery, it is an oasis of relaxation in the hotel of the same name, located among emerald vineyards. Since 1998, Shaloshvili Cellar crafts elegant whites and complex reds, now integrating modern technology since their 2013 inception. With a passion for Georgian culture, they offer full tourist experiences at their onsite hotel. Producing 150,000 bottles yearly from 16 organic hectares.

The winery’s location makes it a convenient base for exploring nearby attractions like the historical sites of Nekresi and Gremi.

Shaloshvili Cellar also participated in the WIne Travel Awards tasting at London Wine Fair 2024. The winery was presented by the following wines:

🍷Kisi Mtsvane White Dry 2021

This captivating blend boasts a harmonious fusion of Mtsvane and Rkatsiteli grapes. With delicate aromas of green apples, apricots, and hints of wildflowers, it culminates in a crisp, refreshing finish that captivates the palate.

🍷Rkatsiteli Oak Barrel Aged White Dry 2017

A white wine with amber hues, this Rkatsiteli-Mtsvane blend offers citrus notes of orange, citrus, and orange peel. It’s a dry wine that reflects the unique winemaking traditions of Georgia.

🍷Saperavi Oak Barrel Aged Red Dry 2018

Saperavi is a red grape variety native to Georgia. This oak barrel-aged red wine from 2018 is dry and full-bodied, showcasing the rich flavours and character of the Saperavi grape.

🍷Saperavi QVEVRI 2020

Qvevri wines are made using traditional Georgian clay vessels. This Saperavi Qvevri from 2020 is likely to be bold and earthy, with intense fruit flavours and a distinctively rustic character. The Qvevri method allows the wine to develop complexity and age gracefully.

Shaloshvili

The last accord in this story — comments from our guests

To make the first impression about the walk-around tasting and the WTA Ceremony, take a look at this friendly comment provided by Dr. Elizabeth Smith:

Wine Travel Awards’ participation in the London Wine Fair went beyond the awards ceremony – attendees had the opportunity to taste a broad lineup of stylistically and varietally different, terroir-driven wines from around the world, including France, Georgia, Italy, Moldova, Romania, and New Zealand. For me, it was especially exciting to taste wines from Moldova for the first time, a highlight of my attendance. It was also a delight to taste a variety of sparkling wines, like the Radacini Metier Brut Alb and Apriori Wine Maestro Cuvee Blanc Alb Brut from Moldova, the Jidvei Traditional Method Extra Brut from Georgia, and Pelorus NV Methode Traditionelle from Cloudy Bay in New Zealand, All demonstrated great diversity and high quality. The Georgian wine lineup included examples of traditional Qvevri fermented and aged whites and reds, always fun to taste alongside wines made in oak and stainless steel. I also enjoyed tasting lesser-known Eastern European varieties like Georgian Saperavi, Romanian Feteasca Regala and Feteasca Neagră, and Feteasca Regala and Rară Neagră (Băbească neagră) from Moldova. I had never had the latter variety, so it was a special treat.

Lena Dzyekunova, Wine Specialist, was very impressed with the wines of Tenuta Manoylo:

Marche Passerina 2021 has a pale lemon yellow colour. The aroma is intense, with notes of citrus (lemon, grapefruit, pineapple), acacia flowers, honey, and secondary aromas of nuts and pastries. The taste is well-balanced, with good minerality, high acidity, and a lingering oiliness. This wine is excellent for drinking now, but also has the potential to age for 3–5 years. I would recommend drinking it on its own or with seafood dishes and fish.

Sangiovese by Tenuta Manoylo has ruby red of medium intensity colour, intense, berry (cherry, red currant, plum) with herbaceous notes (lavender) and spices aroma. The barrel gives the wine an aroma of vanilla and cedar wood. The taste is full-bodied, the high alcohol is beautifully complemented by soft tannins and hints of chocolate and coffee. This wine can be drunk now and has ageing potential. Many people were surprised by the structure and aroma of the Sangiovese.

Kateryna Yushchenko, Ukrainian Expert, Wine & Spirit School Director, and Nominated Educator emphasised several wines she adored:

It was a great pleasure to join the Wine Travel Awards, a prominent event showcasing exceptional wines from around the globe. 

The winners presented an array of diverse and distinguished selections, each leaving a memorable impression on the palate.

Cloudy Bay (New Zealand) — Central Otago Cloudy Bay Te Wahi 2018: This Pinot Noir delivered a burst of wild berries in a juicy, fruity profile. It stood out for its elegance and balance, characterised by smooth tannins that provided a refined finish.

Sauvignon Blanc: Fresh and crisp, this wine was notable for its bright acidity and typical aromas of asparagus, grapefruit, and wet stones, complemented by flinty notes. Its vibrant character made it a standout in the white wine category.

Purcari Winery (Moldova), a long-time one of my favourite wineries, showcased some of their finest offerings:

Negru de Purcari 2020: This wine was a symphony of black plum, blueberries, and black cherry, enriched by spicy, savoury, and toasty nutty notes from oak ageing. It offered a robust and complex experience.  

Rara Neagra: A full-bodied wine with high, velvety tannins and great structure. It boasted blackberry, pomegranate, cherry, and chocolate flavours, accented by cloves, vanilla, and liquorice. Its rich profile and impeccable balance made it a highlight. 

Finally, Robert Joseph admitted the following wines:

Le Grand Noir: This blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre from Robert Joseph was rich in flavours and aromas. Ripe blueberry, blackberry, and plum notes mingled with floral violet accents. Smooth tannins and notes of liquorice, vanilla, sweet spices, and toasty almond hazelnut from oak ageing added depth and complexity.

Shaloshvili Cellar  Saperavi Qvevri 2020 (Georgia): This wine offers a full-bodied and perfectly balanced taste with soft, velvety tannins. It featured a delightful blend of wild berries, blackberry, cherry, dried plums, spices, and tobacco notes with a long, mouth-filling aftertaste.

Jidvei Extra Brut: A traditional method of sparkling wine that is captivated with green apple, pear, and citrus notes. Its autolytic savoury notes from lees ageing provided a sophisticated and savoury edge, making it a delightful aperitif.

Passo del Borgo Sangiovese by Tenuta Manoylo (Italy): This Sangiovese was elegant and balanced, showcasing sour cherry, cranberry, red plums, and fig aromas. Its typical floral violet notes, along with almond, spicy, and herbaceous accents, created a nuanced and enjoyable experience.

Feteasca Regala by Gramofon Wines (Romania): This wine was a breath of summer, fresh and fruity, with a floral, tropical fruit perfume. It offered a good balance of sweetness and crisp acidity, making it a refreshing and delightful choice.

The Wine Travel Awards event was a testament to the excellence and diversity in the world of wine, providing a platform for some of the finest winemakers to share their remarkable creations. Each wine’s unique character and story contributed to an unforgettable tasting experience.

See you next year!