Wines that were rated above 85 points over the course of the year went on to the first step of competition tastings, held on October 21 to 23 2008. The blind tastings were done by a panel of oenologues, sommeliers, wine merchants, restaurant industry representatives and wine lovers, which selected the top 50 wines from the more than 250 originally submitted.

Evaluation criteria included price-quality ratio, individual character and overall impression of a given wine. So as to allow for a wider selection of top-classed wines, a single winery could have no more than four wines in the top 50.

Interesting to note is that, from among the top 50, there was no wine priced under 10 leva: the lowest-priced bottles were 12 leva (the 85-point Minkov Brothers syrah 2007 by Sis Industries and the 86-point EM Blanc de Noir 2007 by Edoardo Miroglio).

Yet, there was not much difference overall in the first-round scores: there were only five wines that came in with 90 points or more (Roto 2006 by Terra Tangra, 91 points, 57 leva; Santa Sarah Privat 2006 by Santa Sarah, 90 points, 48 leva; Solitaire Elenovo merlot 2006 by Domaine Boyar, 90 points, 50 leva; Enira Reserva 2006 by Bessa Valley, 90 points, 42 leva; and Chateau De Val sauvignon blanc 2007 by Chateau de Val, 90 points, 24 leva).

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