Handpicked by IWSC

20 award-winning Champagnes to try

Cheers! Here's a list of 20 top Champagnes to try, with each of these French sparklers winning an IWSC 2021 medal

Words by IWSC Judges

champagne glasses with view of french vineyards
Handpicked by IWSC

Mention the word ‘Champagne’ and you’re immediately transported to a world of glamour, style and sophistication. Few wine regions can compete with its association with luxury, and the best Champagne producers are household names: Krug, Taittinger, Pol Roger… the list is endless.

But there’s much more to this French sparkling wine than modern-day pizzazz – it has an enviable history that dates back to the 17th century (and even earlier for the still wines of the region). The popular tale that French monk Dom Pérignon invented Champagne has been widely discredited – in fact, many believe that sparkling wine was invented in England – but what started out as a happy accident with wines fermenting and developing bubbles over time is now a billion-pound industry, with a huge range of styles and flavours from the big houses.

Some Champagne producers have taken to creating cuvées that are served on the rocks, pulling in a younger demographic, while Zero Dosage Champagnes (with very little, if any, sugar added) are still popular with those who enjoy wine but not the calories that go with it.

wine cellar

A trend among this year’s IWSC Champagne Gold medal winners is the strong representation of vintage Champagnes. These are made from the grapes of a single year, as opposed to the region’s penchant for creating the confusingly titled Non Vintage blends (which are actually a blend of multiple years), and are usually excellent value.

Top scorer in this category was the producer Rare, with its Brut 2008 scoring an impressive 97/100pts, while Golds were also awarded to Jacques Picard Art de Vigne Extra Brut 2007, Palmer & Co Brut 2012 and the Pinot-Noir-dominant Allouchery-Perseval Premier Cru Extra Brut 2012, among others.

Each Champagne in this year’s IWSC was tasted blind by an expert panel, led by John Hoskins MW. He was ably assisted by fellow Masters of Wine Simon Field, Catherine Petrie and Sarah Knowles, along with top sommeliers Jan Konetzki and Svetoslav Manolev.

Champagne offers a magical drinking experience, and we’re delighted to be able to share some highly rated examples of the drink with you. Here are the top-performing Champagnes from the 2021 IWSC.

How do we judge these wines?

We run a tightly structured, rigorous wine tasting process. That means that each wine sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC wine judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the wine industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.

How do we score these wines?

Only the best wines sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, wines have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.

More from Club Oenologique

Club O is an exclusive community and the go-to platform for wine and spirit lovers. Our flagship Club Oenologique magazine offers even more insights for enthusiasts and collectors. Based in London, our editorial team tells informative, inspirational stories from the world of wine and spirits, gastronomy and travel, as well as covering recommendations and the latest trends in drink. You can take a look at our Explained series, for instance, where we’re tackling grape varieties, regions and styles of wine and spirits. Alternatively, visit our Ask the Sommelier section, where experts answer your wine-related questions.