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Sign for the famous Nice Woman Valley in Eger (Hungary)

Three decades of being a lone voice in the wilderness and how things have changed. Judges are now fighting for a spot at my Decanter World Wine Awards tables whereas a few years ago it was definitely seen as a short straw. Today there are exciting wines in abundance from Central and Eastern Europe and a huge array of fascinating grapes that most people have never heard of, ranging from Alb de Onițcani to Zenit. And to be honest when I started as a buyer in the late 1980s (Augustus Barnett - remember that name?) being given Eastern Europe my first buying responsibility was also the short straw, distinctly the least glamorous part of our portfolio. At that time Bulgarian Cabernet Sauvignon, Romanian Pinot Noir, Lutomer Laški Rizling and Yugoslavian Merlot all crossed my tasting bench and sold tens of thousands of cases to happy customers.

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