Benanti, wines from an island within an island

Everything happens for a reason I always say. A couple of weeks ago I had a 2016 bottle of Etna Bianco from Antonio Benanti during a meal.  At that time I honestly didn’t know the winery… but as I had enjoyed the bottle I was hoping I would be having it again one day. A few days later,  I saw an enouncement for future “wine & dine” events passing by at one of my all-time favorite restaurants Pazzo and as if faith wanted it I saw that one of the events was actually with Antonio Benanti . So I immediately called a few friends  (who I was able to convince to join with my enthusiasm 😊) and made the booking for this event.

I personally like “wine & dine” events a lot as it actually combines getting to know new wines (and its owners) and having a great meal .

I do want to point out that Etna wines and Sicilian wines are not necessarily the same thing, as first of all they have different soil, but also because they use different grapes. In Sicily the main focus for many years went to Nero d’Avola (only the last years), Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes , were in the Etna region they always believed in using Etna’s native grapes like Nerello Cappuccio, Nerello Mascalese, Carricante  and even Minnella Bianca. Etna wines also only represent a very small percentage of wines made in Sicily.  It is often said that Etna is an island within an island 😊

The Benanti family lays at the basis of the terroir awareness and terroirs identification of the Etna region as they were one of the few people insisting one sticking with the local grape varieties. When Giuseppe Benanti started making wine from his family’s winery and estate vineyards in the late 1980s (with help from Salvo Foti), there were less than 10 producers in Etna, today there are 134. The largest increase only happened in the last few years as more producers started understanding the value and richness of the Etna soils (even Angello Gaja started experimenting on the Etna).  Today the Benanti’s make what is considered as one of  Italy’s best white wines, the Etna Bianco Superiore Pietramarina.  The Benanti family was in fact already making wine before the 1980’s (already since around the year 1800), but that was mainly for own use. Giuseppe Benanti basically revived the family’s old passion, with an extensive and selective study of the Etnean soils highly devoted to viticulture.  This shows that hard work pays off. Giuseppe is now also assisted by his 2 sons Antonio and Salvino.

During the “Pazzomania”  wine & dine we got to try the full range of  Benanti’s wines including a 2013 Pietramarina, an intensely scented varietal Carricante that is impressively structured and pure (very delicate) . On first nose, you get precise aromas of white peach, zesty pear and blanched almond. After a while the wine takes on more volume in the glass and displays its beautiful mineral nuances.  They had paired the Pietramarina with marinated swordfish and grilled asparagus. We also got served the ‘Etna Rosata’ (100% Nerello Mascalese), that if I can be totally honest the wine that convinced my the least for everything we tasted that night. The taste of the Rosata was very subtle, but you do notice a very nice minerality.   As surprise Antonio had also brought a 2017 Etna Bianco ‘Contrada Cavaliere’. A surprise we enjoyed a lot 😊.

We continued the evening with a 2016 Contrada Monte Serra and a 2016 Nerello Cappuccio (paired with grilled broth fish and ravioli “a la Norma”) . Both very nice reds that just like the white wines Benanti produces, have lots of minerality. In case of the Monte Serra I enjoyed the hinds of cherries and rhubarb in the nose. Very smooth and fine tannin with juicy cherry fruit on the palate.  What is unique about the Nerello Cappuccio is that it is one of the very few bottlings made entirely with native grape Nerello Cappuccio. Here we also find back the red and blue fruit aromas. It is a fresh and easy to drink wine.

We finished with a 2013  Rovittello and the 2013 Serra della Contessa that  combine both Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio but that come from different locations and hights, the Rovittello having perhaps the finest structure and capacity to age. However, it was the 2013 signature Serra della Contessa that is the actual “show horse” of the night (an opinion also shared by many critics and obtained  +90 scores from Robert Parker).  Both wines were served with the grilled pork (Pata Negra) with caponata and Artichokes .

It was a great tasty evening with some great wines and hopefully I’ll get to Sicily (or better the Etna) one day 😊 if not then I’ll open one of their bottles and imagine i’m there

Best Sommelier of the World – A once in a lifetime experience

Last week (10th -15th of March) the 16th edition of the Best Sommelier of the World contest set up its tents in Antwerp. It seems like only yesterday when we received an email from our President William Wouters (president of the Belgian Sommelier Association and Vice-president of ASI Europe) asking us what we thought of the idea of organizing the 2019 ASI Best Sommelier of the World contest 🙂 .  At that time most of us thought William had lost his mind, but William’s enthusiasm convinced us all. What followed after that specific email, were 3 years of hard work (although I only was supposed to help a little bit 😉 ).

The contest can definitely be compared with the Olympics, as it is an event that is only organized every 3 years where only the best of the best from 63 countries compete against each other. It takes years for the competitors prepare themselves for this contest…. Just like the athletes for the Olympics.   And although they don’t get a ‘money’ price if they win it, it does change their life tremendously. From the moment they win, there are soooo many interesting offers that pass by  that for many years to come they don’t have to worry too much about having spare time 🙂  but even for those who don’t win, it opens doors in their own country and gives opportunities that maybe before were unreachable.  So it represents so much more than only a contest… it can (to my opinion) be seen as a life changer and that is why I was glad to be help a hand to make this event a success.

Most people I mention the contest to immediately make the reflection that the competitors only need knowledge about wine, which is obviously a big part of it, but it is also about so much more than that… it is also about coffee, tea, beer, cigars, distillates, juices, hospitality , etc… This also explains why they have to prepare themselves for years, as it a looooot of info to put in their brain.

A question I’ve heard a lot the last few years, was how the sommeliers actually got selected to compete. Every country will ask the winners from the local championship (sometimes also finalists) from the last 10 years who is up for it (as it takes a lot of sacrifices). For the remaining group, we organize a ‘mini’ competition and the winner from this competition can compete.

When William started talking 3 years ago about the championship and experiences he had from all the previous editions from both continental as the world contest that he was part of since the early ‘90’s  , one thing was sure, we wanted to make it an extra special edition. Extra special, as this edition would be exactly 50 years after the 1st edition that was held in 1969 in Brussels. It would also be the first urban edition, as unlike in previous editions we wouldn’t be visiting vineyards. Another important things was to try to take the dust off the image ‘sommeliers’ often have (which is also the mission of the ASI).

Quickly we noticed that we couldn’t manage an event of this size alone. First of all as besides the contest, you have to organize masterclasses, a program for people travelling along with the official delegations, meals, logistic movements, etc… for over 300 people that travel to Belgium for a whole week. But also that it is just a business we don’t know that much about. That’s when our friend Mich Van Aerde and his event company Balthazar came in the picture. They have done an outstanding job in the last 3 years, as some circumstances didn’t always make it easy  for them to wrap their heads around the whole event (also because of constant changes, etc…) and get the work done.

Now that we had that, the next very important thing, was gathering the money to be able to actually organize the event 🙂 this is where our path crossed the path of Claire Berticat. She took in charge all the negotiations with all potential partners (of who many became actually became a partner).

From time to time It has been a bumpy ride, it took blood, sweat and tears… but we (or at least that’s how I experienced it) were a team headed for the same goal, making the 2019 Best Sommelier of the World a World class event where they would talk about for many years to come … and I modestly think we succeeded?!!  Funny enough the week of the contest felt a bit like a wedding party, you are present, but did you actually got to fully enjoy  it? 🙂 I’m exaggerating, I enjoyed it very much 😉 😉

I did get to see a bit of the contest itself here and there, but there were so many things going on behind the scenes, so basically I got to experience it less then I had hoped.

What I will always treasure is all the wonderful people I got to meet  and things I got to experience during the 3 year adventure and I hope to see many again in the future.  It was also wonderful hearing from so many people from around the globe that we did a great job and receiving many compliments… this makes all the hard work worth it!

I wish I could have freed up more time to help, but nevertheless I hope my little contribution to this event made a bit of difference. If you want to know how the week went, please check out the below footage from the whole week!! As it will give you a better view then when I would explain it 🙂

I want to thank all the great people I was fortunate enough to work with and from who I’ve learned a lot: William Wouters, Mich van Aerde, Claire Berticat, Sofie Van der Poel, Tania Asselberghs, Niels Goyvaerts, Domien Van Aerde, Bob van Giel, Amandine Vandeputte (PR/Communication)  and Katrin Bilmeyer for their devotion and outstanding work.  Also thank you to all the people behind the ASI, not to forget all the previous winners of the World title who were present at the finals (even Armand Melkonian who won in 1969)

But this event wouldn’t have been as good without the many many volunteers that travelled from far to help us a hand like Filipa Pato, William Wouters (there are 2 William’s in the Belgian Sommelier Association, this is the other one 🙂 ), Katia Wouters, Marijke Bilmeyer, Bart Sap, Gerard Devos, Kris Lismont, Els De Brucker, Douglas Wouters, Hanne Lesage, Lucas Delforge, Steven Wullaert Bram van der aa, David Hsaio, Jean-Marc BrasseurEllen Franzen, Karim Hayoun, Yiannis Stefanides, Giannis Papachristoforou , Ketil Sauer, Saskia Schurink, Guillaume Coret, Allard Sieburgh, Nelson Guerreiro, Pedro Noguiera, Sergio Pires, Tomas Carreira, Adrian Jipa, Ivan Nikolic, Nenad Nedimovic, Anika Manojlo, Milena Zakaric, Milica Papic, …

Not to forget Belgian helpers and students from hotel school PIVA who helped during the gala dinner. I do hope I didn’t forget anybody!

Last but not least I do want to thank all the AMAZING partners that believed in our project and have kept supporting us until the very end. Thank you Austrian Wines, Inter Rhône, Le Wine, TorresPerrin, Bellavista, Zonin, Gusbourne, Bairrada, Grahams, Vinventions, Port of Antwerp, city of Antwerp,  Flemish Government, Clarence Dillon, Malartic Lagravier, Duvel, Gerard Bertrand, Farnese, Carlos Ruben, M’as tu vu, Decanter, etc… and obviously mostly the people behind these brands 🙂


Without all of the above mentioned people (and I hope I didn’t forget anybody, but if I did I apologies as we are of course also thankful to them) there would have not been a 16th Edition of best Sommelier of the world.

It was fun and I met lots of people, but I’ll be honest that I’m also very glad it is over 😉 😉  it literally will be a once in a lifetime!!  Once again congratulations to the new Best Sommelier of the World Marc Almert!! Also To the 2 runners up Raimonds Tomsons & Nina Højgaard Jensen  and of course to our very own Antoine Lehebel who became 10th. Very proud of you all.

Sommeliers themed lunch: Prosecco vs Champagne and cava

Champagne, cava, prosecco or another bubbly wine… everybody has their favorite, but are they able to distinguish that same favorite when tasting blind? Last week I was present at yet another wonderful sommelier themed lunch organized by Zonin in presence of Lorenzo Zonin. What I always like about their lunches is that you learn enormously! Not only just by listening to the top sommeliers who are also present or to Lorenzo Zonin, but also by yourself. Every lunch they have a different theme and all wines you get are always to be tasted blind. Of these wines you have to distinguish (depending of the theme) what wine it is, vintage, kind of grapes used, etc… I can say for a fact that we’ve (as it wasn’t only me) discovered many great wines . What  I think for all of the lunches I’ve already had the one still most stuck in our minds is the American Barolo styled wine from the Zonin estate in Virginia as everybody was convinced that it was a very old Barolo Piemonte!


What usually happens during these lunches is that the Zonin wines are put next to sometimes French wines, American wines from other colleague estates or sometimes against wines from different Zonin estates. They do this as this way they can see how they should/could improve their wines (in a nutshell). Our theme this time  was sparkling wines. So it was  Zonin sprakling wines (Prosecco) versus Champagnes and top cava’s. I know many amongst you think it is easy to distinguish which is which, but trust me blind tasting is harder than you might think. What makes it even more mind breaking is that it could be either 3 and having to tell which grapes they used adds extra spice 🙂 Let’s not forget that I’m an amateur, not a pro sommelier.

blind-tasting blind-tasting-2

Let me first start with a few facts  about  Prosecco. Something I didn’t know is that Prosecco that now is mostly known as a regional product from around Treviso actually originates from Friuli (from the 8th century) or  better from the village Prosecco on the Karst hills above Trieste (so right next to the Slovenian border). Although back then it was called a Pucinum wine produced with Glera grapes (and I’m pretty sure there were not yet too many refined bubbles involved.  Prosecco DOC can be made in 556 villages spread over 9 provinces in 2 regions Trieste and Treviso.  For it to become DOCG it would need to come from specific villages around Valdobbiadene , Colli Asolani  or Coneglino Valdobbiadene.  It is only since 2009 that use of vintages has become a common thing. Also in contrast to Champagne or Cava, with Prosecco there is no fermentation in bottles.  Tasting notes: Prosecco is very fruity and floral with in general dominant notes of green apple and pear. If you would go to the more refined Prosecco’s you’ll find aromas of peach and almonds.


The biggest difference between Prosecco, Champagne and Cava would first of all be the types of grapes used.  For Prosecco this would be mainly Glera (Verdiso, Bianchetta, Trevigiana, Perera, Glera Lunga, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio & Pinot Nero up to 15%). For Champagne this would be Pinot Noir, Pinot Munier & Chardonnay. For cava it are Macabeu, Parellada & Xarello (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Subirat Parent). FYI to know more about the grape variaties check this link .  I know some people tend to say that Prosecco is sweeter, but I think they are confusing Prosecco with Moscato d’Asti that is indeed a sweet bubbly wine. Another difference between the 3 would be type types there are. Prosecco only has Brut, Extra Dry, Dry or Demi Sec… our French and Spanish French add Extra Brut, Extra Sec(o), Sec(o) and Doux/dolce. Although the biggest difference next to the grapes would be the bubbles itself .  FYI, the facts above are generally speaking as of course it all depends of the winery, etc…

vicky sommelier-themed-lunch-3 me lorenzo-zonin catherine

The location for this edition of sommeliers themed lunch was restaurant Tartufo   (just outside Brussels).  A great discovery btw!!

chef-at-work-2 chef-working

Chef Kayes Ghourabi  has made it a meal to remember.  The first dish we were served (after a wonderful series of tasty appetizers) was scallop with foie gras d’oie and truffles. Paired with this we got 3  glasses. For us to tell which was the Champagne, Cava or Prosecco 🙂   The 2nd glass everybody was convinced it was top cava, but when they revealed the bottles it ended up to be Champagne by Devaux .  We didn’t see that one coming… then again that’s part of the game. So the first one was a Prestige 1821 DOCG Prosecco by Zonin, 2nd (Blanc de Noirs) and 3rd glass (Cuvée D) a different champagne by Devaux . The Cuvée D combined freshness with lovely orangy/mandarine notes 🙂 . In Prestige the freshness comes first with notes of green apple and nice aromas.

appetizer 5 Appeziter 1 appetizer 2 appetizer 3 appeziter 4

Scallop with Foie gras

Zonin Prestige Devaux champagne 1 Champagne devaux 2

With the sparkling wines served with the next dish (Seabream with tomatoes, basil and olives) we were lifted up the next level of tasting as we had to say which grapes was used in the 3 glasses of Prosecco?! Was it Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco or Pinot Nero. The Pinot Bianco is somehow the ‘easiest to distinguish as it is the most exuberant/aromatic of all 3… or at least that’s the theory… Even if I didn’t immediately found out which one was which I must admit my preference out of 3 went to the Pinot Bianco , second place would go to the Pinot Nero and 3rd place would go to the Pinot Grigio. Not that any of them would be a sacrifice to drink 🙂


With the Main course which was Pike Perch (fish) with butternut and salsify we didn’t get 3, but 4 glasses again with the task to say if it were Champagne, Cava or Prosecco… It resulted in there being served 2 Prosecco’s: 1 Frizzante and 1 classic Cà Bolani Prosseco  DOC (always a winner and an every man’s friend) and 2 Cava’s : MVSA Brut Nature and  Masia Sabor Brut.

Pik perch

masia-sabor mvsa-brut-nature prosecco-doc

The ‘easiest’ sparkling wine to distinguish  was the one that came with the chocolate dessert. You could immediately tell it was a prosecco because of the smell, the looks and the ‘bubbles’ being thicker. When they put it in out glass the foam stayed a while in the glass… just like with a pint of beer. It was the zonin ICE demi-sec. Attractively intense, very fruity and aromatic with hints of jasmine and ripe Golden apples. It is deliciously well balanced….

Cholate Moeulleux


Again glad I could be part of this wonderful event!! My favorites of the day were the Zonin White Edition , the Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Prestige 1821, Cà Bolani Prosseco  DOC , MVSA Brut Nature  and the Cuvée D

For more info on Zonin wines please contact Hasselt Millésime or Winespot

Heavenly delights white truffles and Barolo wine

That I’m a fan of the Nebbiolo grape is clear by now I think? For the last few posts I’ve been talking to you about the Valtellina variant. This time however  I’ll be talking about its more famous brother from the neighboring region Piemonte  (Alba/Asti). I know it seemed that I don’t like Alba/Asti  or Barolo variant, but I do without any doubt like them. It is just that as my roots are in Vatellina it has a special place in my heart… but I wouldn’t call drinking a Barolo a big sacrifice 😉 It is just like Luciano Taliano (owner of the Montaribaldi vineyard) said during the meal we had a couple of days ago at Spiga d’oro:  he is fan of all his wines, but the Barbaresco is the apple of his eye… why? Because his family roots are in Barbaresco….


The older a Nebbiolo wine get the “easier” it gets to recognize them, because as they age the wines take on a ‘brick-orange’ shade at the rim of the glass. I know it might sound strange but you should just try it once putting an older Nebbiolo wine next to for example an older Sangiovese wine… The difference in color couldn’t be bigger. Next to its ‘characteristic’ color the Nebbiolo wine comes with fragrances of violets, tar, wild herbs, cherries, raspberries, truffles and tobacco. The most ideal location is at an elevation between 150 and 300 meter. What is special about the nebbiolo grape is that it usually only gets harvested in October, sometimes even at towards the end of the month. This is ‘special’ if you know most grapes in other regions get picked at the end of august or the latest at the end of September… then again the climate and hours of sun during the year obviously decides this … I know the Nebbiolo grape might seem like an easy grape to grow, but it isn’t as it does not adapt particularly well to various vineyard soil types. It prefers soils with high concentration of calcareous marl.


Just like in many other regions there are multiple approaches on making wine, a ‘traditional’ way and a ‘modern’ way. Both have their pro’s and contra’s. A contra of the traditional way or at least how it used to be done many years ago was the ‘lack’ of taking hygiene in consideration that would lead to the a bacterial infection and in the end development of off flavors and potential wine faults that would require at least 24 hours decanting to alleviate . Nowadays winemaking for both traditionalists and modernists include strict hygiene controls and the use of some modern winemaking equipment… so if you no worries anymore 🙂

The most famous wines from Piemonte made with the Nebbiolo grape are without doubt Barolo and Barbaresco. The way to distinguish the 2 wines was very well described by Giorgia Tontodonati from the Montaribaldi vineyard. Barbaresco is the ‘queen’ elegant, ‘softer’ and aromatic, Barolo is the ‘King’ very complex and strong.

I’ve already had the pleasure to have travelled many times to Piemonte to discover the many wonderful things this region has to offer. Next to their wonderful wines they  also have a very refined cuisine with evergreens like ravioli del plin, Tajarin al sugo, vitel tonné (vitello tonnato), Agnolotti, carne cruda alla piemontese, etc… BUT the other world famous trademark product of the of Piemonte is the one and only white truffle! Earlier this week all these wonderful things got combined at one of my preferred Italian restaurants in Belgium Spiga d’oro by my dear friend Franco Di Taranto… As tip of the iceberg he had invited Luciano Taliano from the Montaribaldi winery and trifolau Ezio who brought white truffles he had found the day before… only when in Alba itself you’ll get them on the day itself 🙂 To describe the evening in 1 word “Mythical”!! As I’m not really the man who sticks to one word (sorry for that)  I’ll tell you more about this wonderful evening that made me feel in Piemonte all over again!!


Montaribaldi is a quite young vineyard as the brothers Roberto and Luciano Taliano only opened it around 1994. Technically speaking the vineyard already existed earlier, but in 1994 as after he acquired the vineyards from his father Guiseppe aka ‘Pino’ who had founded it in 1968. The vineyard was named Montaribaldi after the old Roman roads that link the winery to the vineyards. Luciano’s goal was and still is to create a diverse selection of holdings that highlights the different wines of the region.


What I think is the reason for success of Montaribaldi wines is the accurate selection of grapes (the wine gets made on the land) and careful vinification. They also are very fortunate to have vines located in between the ones from their renowned neighbor Angelo Gaja. After having tasted their wines I can only come to the following conclusion their balance, length, intensity and concentration of flavors are all right how they supposed to be! Combine these wines with a meal by Franco and you have a feast… We were served the following menu with paired wines:


A secret celery and truffle salad ‘Arte e Querce’ prepared by Ezio’s wife Clelia. The salad got served with a 2015 Roero Arneis (white). I never saw a man so proud!! You could really tell truffles are Ezio’s passion as he was flaking it so proudly… very endearing to see 🙂

Celery truffle saladRoero Arneis


Vitel Tonné & Carne cruda a l’Albese con tartufo bianco paired with a 2012 Barbera

Barbera Vitel tonné

Robbilo tre latte with blac truffle, leek from Cervere, pears, beetroot and cugnamust from Nebbiolo. This dish got paired with a refreshing 2010 Langhe


“Cocotte” (cheese fondu) from Fontina cheese with fennel sausage and white truffle flakes. Served with 2 Barbaresco’s from different pieces of land aka Palazzina and Sori. Both wines were from 2011.

Barbaresco Cocotte

The main course of the evening was venison with a Barolo reduction with white truffle that got paired with the wine everybody was looking forward to drink the 2012 Barolo.

Main course SVI


To end our meal we got served a chocolate dessert together with a Moscato d’asti. We did also get some white truffle flakes on our chocolate dessert, I didn’t refuse it but if it wouldn’t have been there the dessert would have equally been good 🙂


For me when you prepare a dish with truffles, it should be the truffles playing the main role!! Here again the key word ‘simplicity’ is important to make sure the truffle gets the justice it supposed to get. That’s exactly what my dear friend Franco did. My first words after my meal (and you can check with the people at my table) were “I feel like going to Piemonte now”!! So I guess a trip to Piemonte won’t be far off 😉 😉

I’m not sure why I always have to say which wine I prefer as I like all of them and I don’t want you guys to think that because I prefer one over the other it means the other wines were bad… as they weren’t  🙂  But just to keep everybody happy I admit that the Barbaresco’s charmed me most with on the first place the Sori. On the nose sweet and penetrating notes of licorice and chocolate, firmer and more sustained on the palate but with the roundness and solidity of a high quality extraction. Maybe the fact Luciano talked with so much love about it had an influence ooooooooor that Giorgia compared it with a queen 😉 😉 who knows?! One thing is for sure once again I’ll need to expand my wine cellar and definitely have another winetrip to Piemonte 🙂


Many thanks to Franco,  Aline, Toni, Luciano, Giorgia, Ezio and his wife for making this an unforgettable evening (and of course also my table guests 🙂 )

For more info on Montaribaldi wines in Belgium please contact SVI.

Ceci n’est pas une bière, c’est un Kriek Lambic

For me cherries stand for warm summery weather while summery weather stands for time spend with family and enjoying yourself. This is exactly what I’ve been doing last weekend at the so called ‘Kriekenfestival’ by the Mort Subite Brewery just outside of Brussels. As we were at the ‘Kriekenfestival’ or ‘Cherry festival’ in English I’m sure you can guess which type of beer we were celebrating. Although I must emphasize Cherry beer is not a ‘regular/ordinary’ beer. Why? ‘Kriek Lambic’ is  part of the ‘Geuze’ beer family. A Geuze beer is special because no yeast gets added, the fermentation happens with the wild yeasts that float around in the air aka ‘spontaneous fermentation’. Secondly it is made by blending young and old lambics (Geuze beers let’s say), which is then bottled for a second fermentation (like champagne). And also usually there are no additives like sugar, etc… with exception to cherries. This results in the fact that Geuze usually also tastes a bit more bitter and the cherry beer more acid. Just like with wine it is the Master Brewer who makes the difference with his finishing touch and the ‘assemblies’ he decides to make.




I would be lying if I would say that I drink ‘Kriek’ (cherry) beer on a regular basis, but when I do drink one, it is rarely limited to one :-). The ‘Kriekenfestival’ was one of those moments… summery weather, music, streetfood and a nice Geuze or Kriek to cool off. The perfect recipe for a successful afternoon . I was also happy that my wife and daughter joined me.

Mort Subite Kriek

The ‘krieken festival’ we went to was the 2nd edition due to the success of last year’s festival.The brewery basically opens its doors for everybody who wants to know more about the brewery and its products. Mort Subite had outdone itself this year as they also gave away free cherries to celebrate the great new harvest. I was surprised how many people were actually at this festival and I’m sure they didn’t only come for the free bag of cherries you got. I also think it were mostly local people as every seemed to know each other and the key word was without any doubt ‘FUN’.

Who says beer, says greasy food (and something you don’t have to tell me twice 😉 ). It was a though choice as I had to choose between deluxe hamburgs or hot dogs… in a world without my lovely wife looking over my shoulder (and me being very greedy) I would have gone for both… but I did think a bit of my well being and did go for the hot dog, in this case for me an Italian sausage, pesto, tomato, Parmesan cheese, basil and aioli. The New York  did also look daaaamn good, a classic BBQ sausage with sauerkraut, sweet baked onions, mustard and ketchup OR chicago with pickles and green peppers  (to give a few examples). I bet most men are now drooling on their keyboard 😉  My wife took the Zorba with feta cheese ,merguez sausage, greek coleslaw and olive paste.

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I was also fortunate enough to get a private tour with the Mort Subite Master Brewer Bruno Reinders telling anecdotes and amazing stories about the brewery. Like for example that the copper ‘alembics’ you see in the Mort Subite brewery where actually hidden during the World Wars and were only restored and reused recently. The tour didn’t take too long, as beer making doesn’t change that much (and I had already visited a few Geuze stekers (makers) in the area a while ago) AND tasting it is much more fun then hearing about it 😉



So from now on the Mort Subite Kriek beer stands for great family moments on a summery day and that’s exactly what I’ll be thinking about when I take a sip of their beer…

Floom makes you bloom

Last weekend I’ve been a healthy boy, not that I am ever non-healthy as to me healthy means not eating fast food or unhealthy products. I rarely eat those, I always eat fresh and good products and eat lots of vegetables and fruit… BTW Healthy doesn’t need to mean Bio, because sometimes people seem to mix those 2.  So basically last weekend I have been an even healthier boy than usually :-). I must admit it is because of my lovely wife I did it (for who else 😉 ). She took me to a pop-up brunch restaurant called Floom.  I won’t say I was immediately tempted in saying ‘yes’, as in her opening sentence she mentioned Muesli a few to many times to my opinion and liking… Let’s just say that is that step over the extreme healthy line I don’t always feel like taking. It brings up the words “without butter and sugar” up in my head and those 2 just happen to be 2 of my favorite breakfast partners 🙂 🙂  Nevertheless I am always into trying something new and getting convinced my idea/thought about it was wrong…


Floom is a once a month pop-up brunch restaurant that serves a healthy brunch where sugar gets left out as much as possible. They do replace the sugar by natural sweeteners like agave syrup. What  Floom tries to show people (like me) that food without the regular sugar and organic food doesn’t have to be dull or boring and lets not forget to make people healthier. Floom also has a wide rang of gluten free products… just FYI. What Julie (owner and founder of Floom) had prepared for us that ‘morning’ did look fantastic and I couldn’t wait to fill my plate (ooooh yeah I rime). .. Really she had prepared Apple-rhubarb clafoutis, chocolate donuts, mango chutney, Red beet salad, green pancakes to name a few… next to her regular  selection of muesli that is…  Julie’s smile and pride about her food did also give me that extra ‘push’ to try other things :-). I was that surprised and so busy with the food I forgot taking pictures like I usually do, so the few pictures you see are from Floom… I promise that next time I go I’ll try to post a few of my own pictures. But I’m sure these picture’s do the trick 🙂

Floom 7 Floom 6 Floom 5 Floom 4 Floom 3 Floom 2

You could really tell she had put (and puts) her whole heart in the food and lots of passion. She had even prepared a special banana bread for my wife as she knows my wife loves it so much … (my wife already did a few Floom brunches) I enjoy nothing more that people who work with their heart and passion!! I  find it my duty to spread the word. I do! I also do my best in showing/letting those people know they are doing a great job and that I’ll try to help them in every way I can to spread that word and making their passion an even better success than it already is. I know they’re not waiting for it, but I’ll do it anyhow 🙂

Did she surprise me? Yes she did!! I was a bit skeptic in the beginning, but after the 2nd time I filled up my plate I had no doubt anymore that the ‘extreme healthy’ (in my eyes 🙂 ) food wasn’t as bad as I imagined it. Muesli won’t become my daily breakfast, but it isn’t banned anymore from my breakfast table as it might have been before. One step at a time and maybe after my next Floom brunch they will have convinced me even more…

Floom 8

I do hope you guys get to try one of the famous Floom brunches, do check their FB page or website. In case you’re not able to wait for the next brunch you can also order some of Julie’s home made products via the Floom website. If she was able to convince me, she can convince everybody (she can). You can also find more info on Floom on their website, as I’ve been very brief 🙂

Floom 1

Copa Jerez

Everybody knows the prestigious culinary competition ‘Bocuse d’Or’, where countries from all over the world send their best team to represent their country with pride. A competition as prestigious you might not have heard from as much is the ‘Copa Jerez ‘. The ‘Copa Jerez’ is more or less the same principal with the exception that in this case a team consists of a sommelier and chef that have to create a 3 course meal  paired with Sherry wine. BTW for those of you who don’t know sherry there are many typs of Sherry  Dry sherry’s  (Fino, Manzanilla, Amontillado, Oloroso o Palo Cortado), sweet sherry’s  (Moscatel o Pedro Ximénez)  and semi-sweet (Cream, Medium y Pale Cream).  You can read more about it on one of my blogposts 😉 (The  blogpost).  I fully support this contest!! First of all because ever-since my visit to Jerez or better to the Bodega of Tio pepe I became an enormous fan/lover of Sherry wines. Secondly the team representing Belgium this year are very dear to me 🙂 . Starting with the (TOP) Sommelier representing the Belgian colours this year is no-one less than Comme Chez Soi’s Cesar Roman (who originates from Spain). Cesar will be assisted by a chef who always puts a smile on my face when he serves me his food,  Nico Corbesier (Les Eleveurs).  A young dynamic team with a winners attitude that don’t take satisfaction with a second place 🙂


I even support them sooo much that I (together with a few sommeliers and chefs) went to help/advice them on the dishes and their accompanying sherry’s. Before our commends and advice it was pretty clear this year’s team is a winning team, so you can imagine how it is after the advice 🙂 🙂 On the picture below you see a small assortment of the big assortment we (had –  and what a sacrifice it was) to try to help our friends for the competition… talking about friendship 😉



I did take pictures of the dishes they will be serving, but I think it is better not to share them… that would only give the competitors the change to steal ideas. What I can say is that the dishes are a good mix of Spanish and Belgian influences and products they are proud of…

Join me and support the Belgian team by liking their facebook page!! I will keep you posted on how they did, but every facebook like will give them an extra reason to win.

Visiting Megavino 2014

As mentioned in a previous blogpost, I’m not really a convention center person. I always feel like I’m begging for a glass of wine… I know that I shouldn’t feel like this, but in some way I do. On the other hand for many years I accompanied my dad and 2 of his friends to Vinitaly a wine convention in Verona (with around 5000 exhibitors/winemakers). The difference there was that this was I was able to spend more time with my dad (and a good excuse to travel) and we usually would also only visit the winemakers he knew personally and therefore it felt less like begging and more like just visiting a friend (which it also was). My visit to Megavino in Brussels this year was for the exact same reason, to visit friends… coincidentally mostly female friends that took me (and my friends) on a trip through their wines 🙂 🙂


My first stop was at the French Pavilion to join the always lovely Miss Vicky (that all of you probably all know from me mentioning her in some of previous blog posts). Not only is she a very nice French young lady, her life also turns ALL around wine. She makes wine, writes about wine, knows almost everything about wine and travels the world to share that wisdom and to bring together people to drink and share their experiences about wine both Miss Vicky as other wines (in a nutshell). One of Vicky’s goals (I think) is amongst other to put French wine in the picture again and give them a younger image. In which to my opinion she ( lots of French winemakers also support her in that mission) succeeds. Megavino this year was also a little family moment for Miss Vicky as she brought her whole family to the convention (besides her mom). Surprise , surprise, her whole family also work in the wine business 🙂 (besides her brother whose main activity is art). So I was able to try all their wines and I’m really not able to say which vineyard I preferred, Miss Vicky’s or her dad’s…. What I can say is that we (me and my friends) had a preference for their Fleurie (both Miss Vicky as from Domains des Moriers) because of the fact it is an easy to drink wine with a nice aftertaste and from Miss Vicky’s white’s I did like the fresh en fruitiness of the Beaujolais.








My next stop was to meet Claudia from Podere Marcampo. I had never met Claudia before, we only knew eachother from our correspondence over the internet 🙂 normally the plan was to visit her vineyard during my trip in Tuscany earlier this year, but due to a few schedule changes we didn’t make it happen… The combination of Claudia’s and her enthusiasm when we met at Megavino made me wanting to immediately join her to visit their vineyard in Italy :-). Podere Marcampo is a fairly new small vineyard (only 2ha of vines and around 10000 bottles a year) that was started around 2006 when father Del Duca purchased Podere Marcampo. Wine making isn’t (yet) their main focus as besides winemaking they also have already for many years a refined enoteca/restaurant in the historical centre of Volterra called Enotaca Del Duca (a must if you are ever in the area). They also have a Agriturismo in the middle of their vineyards on top of a hill with some breathtaking views (also around Volterra). I didn’t stay their yet myself, but one of my friends did and enjoyed every moment of their stay :-). Regarding their wines you can still feel and hear they are still looking for the exact direction they want to take and are still experimenting a bit… what you must know is that the area around Volterra is not really seen as a wine area as the climate isn’t as mild as for example 50 or 100km around them . Nevertheless this didn’t stop them (difficult is also an option 🙂 ). Because of the use of Sangiovese and Merlot grapes and the fact the wines aren’t too heavy, makes their wines an every person’s friend. I must be honest and admit that some of the wines I tasted were still a little too young, but still very drinkable 🙂 I’m already looking forward to try their wines when they are a bit older!



Voltera 9

The frosting on the cake on this day was without any doubt the Master class I was able to take thanks to France Wine (UbiFrance) about wines in Amphora. It basically is a ceramic container in which they age and conserve wine already since the 8th century before Christ!!! The reason I subscribed for this course was because it just intrigued me that a technique like this still god used after century’s aaaand that it was my friend top sommelier Cesar Roman who would be teaching the masterclass. It might seem unbelievable, but I learned quite a lot in those 45 minutes, like that the first signs of winemaking can be found in Georgia (country)… form all places I never expected it was Georgia 🙂 . And this is just one of the many things I learned, but I’ll be talking in more detail about this in one of my next posts. The taste of the wine wasn’t 100% my cup of tea 😉 (“of course not, it was wine 🙂 🙂 hahaha, sorry!! Bad joke I know) but just like with all wines, I’m sure there also some very good or better amphora wines of my liking…








I did visit more stands, but I wanted to keep it “short” 🙂

So even-though I’m not really a convention center person I did have a great time at Megavino! Thanks guys!

2014 Best Belgian Sommeliers Trophy

Wine has now more than ever become such a great deal of my life and I keep learning every day. Watching this year’s finals of the Best Belgian Sommelier competition made me realise there is still a very long way if I ever want to be as good as the finalists :-). What made this year’s final extra special is that for the first time the “Belgische Sommeliers Gilde”, “Prosper Montagé” and “VVS” have joined their forces in organising 1 collective competition (instead of all separate contests).

Every year again I am surprised how tough the finals of the Trophy of Belgian Sommelier is. Lots of people despise it a bit and don’t get the whole sommelier thing or the importance of it. Trust me when I say a good sommelier who knows what he’s talking about and how things should be done is a world of difference with one who doesn’t! During a dinner for example. I dear you to check it next few times you go out for dinner or lunch and after a while you’ll know what we’re talking about and their importance of making your food experience more complete! Another possibility would be to come and see the 2015 finals as they are open for everybody to come and see. You’ll be surprised of the level these guys work at. before I continue I must introduce this year’s victims 🙂 🙂 : Benoît Couderé (Karmeliet), Antoine Lehebel ( Villa Lorraine) and Jasper Van Papeghem ( Hostellerie L’ Esco )


Some parts of the competition might seem simple, but they’re not. What first of all makes it so difficult is that there are so many different types of wine from so many countries each having their uniqueness but also similarities.Also there some ways/ rules on how bottles should be opened, decanted and served… On top of that all stages of the competition are to be done in certain amount of time going from 3 to 15 minutes. The first “test” is for example a very good example of seeming simple… Just like last year the finalist had to serve according to the rules of the art a particular bottle of J.L Telmont champagne. So far nothing special might think, which is true if it weren’t for the fact the finalist has to explain what is special about the champagne he is serving, taking into account that the oldest person at the table is celebrating its birthday and that all of a sudden somebody from the public joins the table and asks a Belgian beer (and yes here again the finalist has to tell something about)… still taking into account he only has I think it was 10-15minutes (not sure anymore) to fulfill this task and there is a whole room full of top sommeliers, journalists and “regular” people watching your every move .



The most difficult part according to most spectators was where the finalist has to make corrections to a wine list. The errors on the wine list can be grammatical, a wine being in the wrong section of the menu, as well as that for example there is written a wine is Millésime but according to the other specifications it is not possible this wine is a Millésime. Me personally I always find the most difficult part the tasting and recognizing wines or alcoholic drinks… where they have to tell as much as possible about what they taste, like country, grapes, vintage, etc… knowing they (the jury) try everything to confuse the finalist by for example serving the drink in a black tinted glass. FYI the whole completion gets followed by a bailiff to make sure every happens correct and that all 3 finalist get treated in exactly the same way. Also the jury judging the finalist exists out of a international group of people of Top Sommeliers, Top wine journalists (no, not talking about myself ;-), but about somebody like Fiona Morrison for example). After all 3 participants did their thing the answers are show, this sometimes gives big surprises.

Antoine winelist


Again, I think I still have to learn a loooooooot before I could ever participate or to maybe even get close to level of the participants. This year’s winner was Antoine Lehebel ( Villa Lorraine)!!!! Last year he was 2nd and before the start already a favorite. All 3 participants were very good, but Antoine gave the most correct answers and seemed the most fluent of all 3. Congratulations to Antoine! I must admit I was jealous about all the gifts he got :-). Another advantage of the joined forces of the organizers of the contest is that the winner gets even more gifts than last year 🙂 I hope to see you guys next year to get a new view on the world of sommeliers!


More about the celebration of the victory in my next post …