WineHandpicked by IWSC

Award-winning Italian sparkling wines

Prosecco’s popularity may know no bounds, but there’s a whole lot more to Italy’s fizz. From Franciacorta to Lambrusco, read on for our selection of the best Italian sparkling wines from the IWSC 2023

Words by IWSC Judges

farra di soglio hills with prosecco vineyards in veneto, italy
Handpicked by IWSC
The hills of the Farra di Soligo commune in Treviso, Veneto, where award-winning Prosecco is made

You’d have to have been living under a rock to have not seen the huge impact Italian sparkling wine has made in recent years. It’s largely been down to one Italian fizz in particular – Prosecco – but there are others well worth your attention. There are four main types of Italian sparkling wine:

  • Prosecco, made in north-east Italy (Veneto) from the Glera grape
  • Franciacorta, made in northern Italy (Lombardy) from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Bianco
  • Asti Spumante, made in north-west Italy (Piedmont) from Moscato Bianco
  • Lambrusco – a red sparkling wine – made in central Italy (Emilia-Romagna) from the Lambrusco grape

You’ll also find metodo classico (traditional method) Italian sparkling wines made in Trentino and Liguria in the north.

Lambrusco grapes on the vine
Lambrusco grapes on the vine – the red Italian sparkling wine might have fallen from fashion, but Italy still makes award-winning bottles in the style

Prosecco has been made in Veneto for hundreds of years, and although there are different quality levels, it has always been regarded as a good-value, reliable quaffer, and not a wine to be put on a pedestal like Champagne and the wine world’s other big hitters. Franciacorta is a different story, however. Made in the same way as Champagne, and with two of the same grape varieties, it is richer and more complex than Prosecco, with the best bottles more than a match for their French counterparts.

Until the Prosecco explosion, Asti Spumante (and its sweeter cousin, Moscato d’Asti), was the sparkling wine of choice for Italians. Light, zingy and refreshing, with an alcohol level typically between 6-9%, both Asti and Moscato make superb aperitifs – they also got a welcome boost in the Noughties when US rappers started namechecking them in their songs, leading to a revival in fortunes.

Italian sparkling wine made in the traditional method
Despite the proliferation of Prosecco, lots of Italian sparkling wine is made using the traditional method

The one Italian fizz whose fortune has seen a rise and fall – and, more recently, a rise again – is Lambrusco. Hugely popular in the US and Europe in the 1980s, the wine saw a decline in recent years – possibly due to the public’s desire for dryer styles (much of what was exported was either off-dry or sweet). But dry Lambruscos are still made, and retain their popularity in their Emilia-Romagna homeland, where the wine is seen as the ideal accompaniment to the cuisine of the region. And the natural wine movement is helping drive interest in Lambrusco made using the ancestrale method (where yeast cells are left inside the bottle instead of being disgorged), a return to the drink’s roots.

This year’s IWSC results saw a strong performance from Italian sparklers, with five Silver medals awarded. Among the top sparkling wines was Centinari, Ardea Pacifica Rosé Brut 2018, a ‘bright’, ‘expressive’, ‘toasty’ and ‘tart’ rosé Franciacorta, according to the judges. Another medal went to Cantina di Santa Croce, La Tradizione Secco 2022, a Lambrusco that impressed with cherry and coconut on the nose and plum, ginger and nutmeg on the palate – definitely one to try if you’ve never had a red sparkling wine before.

Each entrant in the Italian sparkling wine category was organised by style and colour before being blind-tasted by a panel of experts. Among the judges were Majestic Wine buyer Richard Lewis, drinks retail consultant and writer Cat Lomax and Robbie Toothill, commercial director for Lay & Wheeler.

Prosecco may dominate the Italian sparkling wine market, but there are so many other great bottles out there, so it’s definitely worth experimenting to find your favourite. We’re proud to present this selection of the best Italian sparkling wines from the IWSC 2023.


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.

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