International Wine Competition in Ljubljana
celebrates 50th anniversary

© Marjan Kveder

Ancient vine
More than 400 years old, this gnarled grapevine in the city of Maribor is said to be the world's oldest living wine-grape vine
On May 28-June 1, 2004, the international wine competition in Ljubljana, Slovenia, celebrates its 50th anniversary of existence on the international wine scene, and as no other wine competition has such a long tradition, it can be called the oldest international wine competition in Europe and the world. And where there was no other international wine competition there was the Ljubljana wine competition that right from the start abided by strict international rules and for many years was the only international centre for the sensory analysis of wine.

The roots of the wine competition in Ljubljana go back even further, deep in the past to 1811, when the "Tasting of Illyrian Wine" was first held. Various forms of wine exhibitions and tasting events followed, especially in the first half of the 20th century, that sought and selected the best quality in wine produced. The first exhibition in Ljubljana to include wine tasting was held in 1926. It is not therefore coincidental that Ljubljana has such a long tradition in evaluating wine. Ljubljana, the centre of Slovenia, has throughout its history been a trading city on the Vienna and Venice axes, between the Mediterranean and Central Europe, and has always lived from the wine trade that was carried out through countries to the north and south. The result was the occasional wine tasting events right up to 1954.

1955 was a milestone in that the first modern international wine competition was held. Even then it was held under the auspices of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine from Paris (OIV) and has continued under its wing without a break every year to today. A little later the international wine competition was to come under the auspices of the International Union of Oenologists from Paris (UIE) and was to become a member of the World Federation of the Largest International Wine and Spirit Competition from Montreal (FMGCIVS). At the establishment of the World Federation of International Wine Competitions in Montreal in 1994 Ljubljana took the presidency until 1997.

Constant patronage, control and cooperation with the three international wine organisations - OIV, UIE and FMGCIVS - and strict adherence to international rules has brought the Ljubljana wine competition the greatest fame both for the organisers and within the profession. Due to its professionalism the wine competition in Ljubljana has become an example for all other international wine competitions and a reference for the three international organisations. The objectivity and quality of the competition has awakened trust in world wine manufacturers who sent their wine to Ljubljana.

Medals awarded at the international wine competition in Ljubljana have quickly become recognised and an authentic measure of quality of the wine tasted. The Ljubljana wine competition is said to have become the most neutral event of its kind in the world. Producers do not send their samples to Ljubljana for the market or for marketing but for the reputation the competition brings and its extraordinary objectiveness in proving quality. With its constant and high quality judging the medals awarded in Ljubljana have become the highest sought after in the trade. Ljubljana has become a centre for sensory activity with various international and global meetings, congresses and assemblies being held at the same time as the international wine competition all on the theme of sensory appraisal of wine.

In 1976 in Ljubljana the General Assembly of the OIV adopted an international definition for oenologist and the rules of international wine competition. All the new rules have been adopted and tested in Ljubljana. Because of its long and rich tradition in wine Ljubljana was named by the general assembly of the OIV in Rome 1987 as the "City of Vine and Wine." In 1990 the European Community recognised the International Wine Competition in Ljubljana in its official gazette, number C 289 of 17 November 1990 and provided the opportunity for the prize-winning wines from the Ljubljana competition to be advertised in the EU-countries.

To today, over 50 years, 50,000 wines from 40 countries (practically all the wine producing countries) have been appraised. The oldest foreign wine appraised was from Spain in 1885 that was sent to Ljubljana in 1969. Every year more than 400 wine producers from all over the world send their samples to Ljubljana. Around 70% of all wine judged comes from abroad. Each year 40 recognised tasters from all continents participate in the wine competition. Many are recognised and appointed by the OIV and UIE. International rules are adhered to in that each judging committee has one representative from the home country and each of the others come from other countries.

In Ljubljana only 30 percent of samples tasted are awarded medals. In this way the reputation of the medals is preserved. The judging procedure takes place without commentary and totally anonymously. Tasters are provided with only data on the year and category of wine tasted, not the producer, sort, origin or country. The purpose of this is to ensure the objectivity of the event and to provide judges with the least possible burdensome data.

In May 2004 Slovenia becomes a full member of the European Union and Ljubljana's international wine competition will become even more solid among the numerous other wine competitions in Europe and the world.

Address: Ljubljanski sejem, d.d., Dunajska 10, p.p.3558, 1001 Ljubljana, Slovenia
Phone: +386 1 300 26 13, +386 1 300 26 00, Fax: +386 1 300 26 48
Contact person: Stane Kavcic

May 2004

Ljubljana judges
International panel of judges at the 2002 Ljubljana competition

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