You’d have to have been living under a rock not to have 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.
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.
The one Italian fizz that’s really fallen out of favour is Lambrusco. Hugely popular in the US and Europe in the 1980s, the wine has seen 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.
This year’s IWSC results saw a strong performance from Italian sparklers, with six Gold Medal winners, each one scoring 95/100pts. They include Duca di Dolle 100% Exd Extra Dry 2019, described as a ‘textbook’ Prosecco by the IWSC judges, who also praised its aromas of golden apples, pear, peach and blossom. Another went to Medici Ermete Concerto Lambrusco Dry 2020, which impressed with its black-cherry and red-fruit flavours – 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. Chair was Alistair Cooper MW, who was accompanied by fellow Master of Wine David Round, Master Sommeliers Isa Bal and Nicolas Clerc, Waitrose wine buyer Victoria Mason and journalist and Club Oenologique columnist David Kermode.
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 our list of the best Italian sparkling wines.
Top Italian sparkling wines 2021
- Lo Sparviere, Brut 2014. Franciacorta; 95/100
- Medici Ermete, Concerto Lambrusco Dry 2020. Reggiano; 95/100
- Contadi Castaldi, Brut NV. Franciacorta; 93/100
- Andreola, Rive di Col San Martino 26° Primo Extra Brut 2020. Prosecco Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore Rive; 92/100
- La Farra, Rive di Farra di Soligo Extra Dry Millesimato 2019. Prosecco Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore Rive; 92/100
- Andreola, Rive di Refrontolo Col del Forno Brut 2020. Prosecco Conegliano-Valdobbiadene Superiore Rive; 92/100
- Fattoria La Vialla, Il 35 Extra Brut 2016. Oltrepo Pavese; 91/100
- Cascina Castlet 2020. Moscato d’Asti; 90/100
- Forteto della Luja, Piasa San Maurizio 2020. Moscato d’Asti; 90/100
- Lebovitz, Al Scagarün Dry NV. Mantova; 90/100
- Cantine Lombardini, Il Campanone Dry NV. Reggiano; 90/100
- Cantine Colomba Bianca, Lavì Blanc de Noir Nerello Mascalese NV. Terre Siciliane; 90/100
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
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