IWSC wine judging
19 May 2021

Rosé from China and orange wine from Georgia win gold at the IWSC 2021

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The International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) has named its Northern Hemisphere medal-winning wines of 2021, with English sparkling wine winning big and emerging categories – including Chinese sweet wine and Prosecco rosé – impressing the judges.

Over 4,000 wines were tasted blind and evaluated by 60 wine experts, including Masters of Wine and Master Sommeliers, across a two-week tasting event to determine the winners. This year, wines were submitted to the IWSC from 39 different countries, from Canada and China to France and Italy.

Of the wines tasted, 148 were awarded a coveted gold medal – a prize merited to wines that the judges believe demonstrate outstanding personality, character, complexity and balance. Among those were a Chinese rosé (Penglai Longting Vineyard Co., Art Series Summer 2019), three Canadian ice wines (a sweet wine produced from grapes frozen on the vine) all made by Inniskillin and an orange wine from Georgia (Teliani Valley JSC, Glekhuri Rkatsiteli Qvevri 2019).

Sparkling wine dominated the IWSC 2021 gold medal haul, but it wasn’t only Champagne or Prosecco that brought home the gongs. English sparkling wine was up there, with Nyetimber and Langham Wine Estate among those awarded gold medals. A sparkling wine from emerging region Moldova also scooped the top medal. And in its first year, judges praised the Prosecco rosé category for its balance and purity of fruit, awarding 17 silver and bronze medals.

Away from the sparklers, Lidl’s 2016 Barolo also won gold, a wine retailing at £11.99. Indeed, it was a record-breaking year for Italian wines, with Italy picking up more gold, silver and bronze awards than any other country.

The standout trend for IWSC 2021 entries was the rise of native grape varieties, with around 50% of all entries made from lesser-known or indigenous grape varieties – including Öküzgözü from Turkey, Beibinghong from China and Cvetochniy from Russia.

The IWSC 2021 Wine Judging Committee – John Hoskins MW, Sarah Abbott MW, Dirceu Vianna Junior MW and Alistair Cooper MW – oversaw the rigorous judging process, and social-distancing rules which were in place throughout the tastings. Among the judges were Isa Bal MS, Helena Nicklin, Jan Konetzki, Marie Cheong-Thong and Matteo Montone MS.

Christelle Guibert, CEO of the IWSC commented, “A huge congratulations to all our medal winners. It is so great to see the diversity of the wines entered year-on-year, with new categories, such as Prosecco rosé and Chinese sweet wines, represented in 2021.”

“As restrictions imposed by the global pandemic begin to ease, and the hospitality industry resumes its rightful place amongst the trade, it is reassuring to know that great winemakers and quality wines will continue to delight consumers.”

See the full list of the 2021 IWSC results.