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Global Sparkling Masters 2018: The results

Over a year, the drinks business hosts many Global Masters competitions, inviting producers to pit their wines against the world’s best before a panel of expert judges.

About the competition

The Sparkling Masters is a competition created and run by the drinks business, and is an extension of its successful Masters series for grape varieties such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, as well as regions such as Rioja and Chianti. The competition is exclusively for sparkling wine and the entries were judged by a selection of highly experienced tasters using Schott Zwiesel Cru Classic glasses supplied by Wine Sorted. The top sparklers were awarded Gold, Silver or Bronze medals according to their result, and those that stood out as being outstanding received the ultimate accolade – the title of Sparkling Master. The sparklers were tasted over the course of a single day on 12 July at Les 110 de Taillevent in London’s Marylebone.

Judged blind, the Global Masters is unique in that it presents wines without any indication of their origin, stripping away the potential for prejudice, and allowing a wine to be judged on its price and style alone. While we also host a Global Prosecco and Global Champagne Masters, the Sparkling Masters is open to fizz of any style or origin. It means that a vintage Champagne could be judged alongside a sparkling wine from Hungary, or, indeed, a Prosecco, Cava or Lambrusco; wines that would ordinarily remain segregated, competing in their own category, but rarely against each other.

By placing the wines on a level playing field, removing any prestige that may be associated with their origin, all wines are afforded the chance to shine, helping to break down assumptions, aid consumer choice and highlight quality at all price points. To be considered the best, you must compete with the best.

For our team of expert judges, made up of MWs, senior buyers and sommeliers, it made for a fascinating review of what has become an incredibly fast-paced and evolving category. “Almost nothing is as invigorating as a day judging sparkling wines, whether Champagne, Prosecco and other traditional or tank method wines from around the globe,” enthuses Patricia Stefanowicz MW. “While there were excellent wines in all of the categories, the white sparkling wines seemed to have somewhat more consistency than the rosés. And the very best white sparkling wines shone with star-bright brilliance, lovely definition and elegance, whether brut, medium-dry, medium-sweet or sweet.”

This year’s Global Sparkling Masters saw more than 150 wines judged over the course of one day. Pleasingly, the results demonstrated a clear increase in quality in all price points and styles, with medals broadly distributed to traditional-method brut sparklers, primarily made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and cheaper tank-method Prosecco and Prosecco alternatives, to Lambrusco, Asti and other sweet sparkling wines. Overall, the competition yielded an impressive three Masters – the highest possible accolade – 19 Golds, 57 Silvers and 46 Bronze medals. But which regions shone the brightest, and who are the producers behind them?


Champagne, when represented, lived up to its reputation at all price points. Perrier-Jouët took home Gold for its Blanc de Blancs (£50+), Grand Brut (£30-£50) and Belle Epoque 2011 (£50+). However, it was its NV Brut Blason Rosé Champagne (£30-£50) that really impressed, receiving the competition’s first Master. Noting the rising quality of rosé Champagne in general, judge Michael Edwards said this fizz was demonstrative of the “dramatically improved quality of the red wine used for rosé making” in the region.

Stefanowicz also acknowledged that rosé sparkling wine in general had “improved immeasurably in the last decade”, but nevertheless felt that it was the most inconsistent segment of wines in the competition. Offering some food for thought, she said: “There were still a few too many where the sugar-acid flavour balance was not quite poised. Admittedly, most rosé wines are not designed with much autolysis in mind, so they rarely have the added dimension to balance out the sweetness.”

Elsewhere Champagne Mumm’s Grand Cordon picked up a Gold, as did Champagne Leclerc Briant for its Brut Reserve (£50+), while its Premier Cru Extra Brut (£50+) was awarded a Silver. This house was also responsible for one of the most intriguing wines of the day, Abyss (£50+) – a Brut Champagne aged at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean for one year – which won a Silver. One of the best-value Champagnes of the competition was Lidl’s Comte de Senneval Champagne Brut (£10-£15), which won a Silver, proving that quality can be found at the lower end of the price scale.

“I love the fact that Champagne is still strong and holds the quality bar very high, but there were plenty of other options, like English or Spanish fizz,” said sommelier and judge Andrea Briccarello. “In terms of quality and price, the best category was the £10-15 segment, with some of the more premium wines not delivering enough for the money. I was also pleasantly surprised by the own-brand wines from the likes of Lidl, which takes its wine selection very seriously.”

High quality

Crémant offered further high points, bringing forth high quality, medal-winning wines at the £10-£15 mark, reminding us of the category’s good value. Bouvet Ladubay picked up a Gold for its Crémant de Loire Brut Blanc, along with Reverchon’s Riesling Crémant Brut (£20-£30) from Hessen in Germany. Domaine Paul Mas scooped a Silver for its Côte Mas Crémant de Limoux Brut, along with Patriarche for its Crémant de Bourgogne Rosé and Blanc expressions.

On par with the Champagnes in terms of price, many of the English sparkling wines were well received, with Wiston Estate receiving a Gold for its Blanc de Noirs and Cuvée Brut (£30-£50), while Hattingley Valley picked up a Silver for its Classic Reserve (£30-£50).

“English sparklings, a small group, were very good,” noted Stefanowicz, “an indication that England should be considered as an alternative to our neighbours across the Channel.”

Of all the regions represented in this year’s competition, Cava has seen the biggest upheaval in the past year. In 2017, DO Cava launched the Cava de Paraje Calificado classification, which is open to all Cava producers. However, just nine cellars have reached the required standards to achieve the new quality seal – the equivalent of just 300,000 bottles in a region that produces 245 million annually. So it was gratifying to have one such wine in our line-up, which lived up to the certification’s high quality standards. Barcelona’s Gran Torelló Cava de Paraje Calificado received a Gold – a shining example of the DO’s ongoing efforts to drive quality upwards while also better highlighting the region’s best wines. From the New World, Roederer Estate flew the flag for California, winning a Gold for its NV Quartet and NV Quartet Rosé (£20-£30), both from the Anderson Valley. Chile performed particularly strongly at the lower end of the price spectrum, with Maycas del Limarí winning a Silver for its Espace Brut (£10-£15) from the Limarí Valley, while Viña Maipo scored a Silver for its Vitral Sparkling (£10-£15) from the Central Valley.

“Finding good-value wines in the under-£10 and £10-£15 brackets was superb,” noted Stefanowicz. “The traditional-method wines at £10-£15, whether Crémant from the Loire or Bourgogne, or well made Cava, also provide exceptional value for money, with fresh bread or gentle buttered toast autolysis accenting fruit. Above £20, the wines seemed to have more consistency in terms of depth and complexity. And the wines at higher prices (£30+) were beautifully cut diamonds, serious wines with layers of aromas and flavours and lovely textured mousse across the palate.”


The most successful region, and the most dominant of this year’s competition in terms of volume, was Italy, which achieved medals in all styles and price points, and was responsible for two Masters. In a major coup for sweet sparklers, specifically Asti, Giulio Cocchi’s Spumanti Asti DOCG (£10-£15) from Piedmont received a Master, making it one of the best-value wines of the competition. Italy’s Scavi & Ray also picked up a Gold for its Moscato (£10-£15) from Emilia-Romagna, while its Ice Prestige from the Veneto, giving credibility to the sparkling over ice trend, was awarded a Silver. Santero Wine’s Asti Degli Angeli DOCG Santero, meanwhile, picked up a Silver, and at the wallet-friendly under-£10 price point.

At the opposite end of the sugar scale, Cantine Monfort’s Riserva Brut (£30-£50) from Trentino-Alto Adige, made from 80% Chardonnay and Pinot Nero, took home the competition’s third and final Master, topping a clutch of high-performing wines from Trentodoc in the far north of Italy, known for its traditional method fizz made using Champagne grapes. Producers Letari, Endrizzi and Maso Poli all picked up Silver medals for wines from Trentino Alto-Adige, all of which fell within the £20-£30 segment.

Very fine wine

“There were some serious wines from elsewhere in Italy: Trentodoc produced one very fine wine, and the wines from Alto-Adige had subtlety yet concentration,” says Stefanowicz. Going after the same market as Trentodoc, the few examples of Franciacorta that were judged, also known for its traditional method fizz, scored highly. Ca’ d’Or’s Franciacorta DOCG Saten (£30-£50) won a Gold, while Barone Pizzini’s Franciacorta Rosé (£30-£50) was deemed “exceptional” by Edwards.

Prosecco, while reliable at lower price points, failed to hit the high notes, with Massotina the stand-out performer in this category. Its Le Rive di Ogliano Extra Dry DOCG Prosecco (£20-30) was the only example to gain a Gold, along with a clutch of Silvers. Elsewhere, Fontanafredda scooped a Gold for its Vigna Gatinara Alta Langhe DOCG (£20-30), from Piedmont, while Cleto Chiarli gained a Gold for its Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC, from Emilia-Romagna, which, at under £10, was one of just two wines of the whole competition to win a Gold at this price point (the other being from Hungary).


While it’s always good to see traditional regions raising the bar and maintaining quality, one of the most rewarding aspects of the Global Masters is the discovery of an underdog – a country or region that comes out fighting against the big players, and shows real promise of longevity and progress. Even more gratifying is when unknown or indigenous varieties triumph.

For this competition that country was Hungary. Törley’s sweet Hungaria Irsai Olivér Doux, made from the Hungarian grape variety Irsai Olivér, was the second wine to win a Gold in the under-£10 category. Törley was also rewarded with a Silver for its 100% Pinot Noir Orfeum Rosé Sec, 100% Pinot Noir François President Brut 2014, and its Törley Excellence Sarga Muskotaly Doux, made from the Hungarian Muscat Lunel grape, as well as its Hungaria Grand Cuvée Brut, made from a blend of Grüner Veltliner, Riesling and Királyleányka. All of these wines are priced at under £10, demonstrating a superb quality-to-price ratio from a somewhat unlikely source. Arba Wine, based in the Almaty region of Kazakhstan, was also a wildcard entry that prevailed over many of its more high-profile competitors, winning a Silver in the over-12g/l sparkling rosé category for its Rossa Assa Valley 2014 Pinot Noir.

Range of styles

The Sparkling Masters is always a hugely diverse but rewarding competition. This is reflected by the fact that our three Masters neatly represent a broad sweep of sparkling styles, from a dry Italian Brut and rosé Champagne to a sweet Asti DOCG.

As judge Marcel Orford-Williams, wine buyer for The Wine Society, reminds us: “The choice facing the consumer is positively bewildering. Even better is the variety of tastes and styles on offer. Champagne has been the dominant force in sparkling wine for generations, but it was not always the case. Limoux was making sparkling wines well before Champagne. And if I am right, there was a time when Saint Peray was more sought after than Champagne. This simply goes to show that despite Champagne’s position, diversity has always been key to the sparkling wine category, and that is even more true today.”

Champagne might still be the benchmark, but it comes at a price. Other regions are continuing to prove that they can achieve the complexity and quality of Champagne, but at a much lower price, and in a range of styles. With rising demand for fizz driving global wine sales, and the industry working from a smaller-than-average 2017 harvest, credible producers of quality sparkling wine, whatever their source, will be in high demand.

Click through to see a round-up of all of this year’s medal-winning wines…

White sparkling brut

Company Wine Vintage Region Country Medal
Under £10
Törley Hungaria Grande Cuvée Brut Etyek-Buda Hungary NV Silver
Törley François President Brut Etyek-Buda Hungary 2014 Silver
Veuve du Vernay Veuve du Vernay Brut Burgundy France NV Bronze
Barton & Guestier Barton & Guestier Chardonnay Brut Gironde France NV Bronze
Patriarche Louis Perdrier Brut Excellence Burgundy France NV Bronze
Lidl Ireland Arestel Cava Brut Barcelona Spain 2017 Bronze
Anna Spinato Prosecco Millesimato DOC Brut Veneto Italy 2017 Bronze
Banfi Cuvée Aurora Langa DOCG Siena Italy 2013 Gold
Bouvet Ladubay Crémant de Loire Brut Blanc Loire France NV Gold
Les Domaines Paul Mas Côte Mas Frisante Languedoc France 2016 Silver
Corte d’Aibo Pignoletto Spumante Emilia-Romagna Italy 2017 Silver
Maycas del Limarí Espace Brut Limarí Valley Chile 2017 Silver
Bouvet Labuday Bouvet Saphir Saumur Brut Blanc Loire France 2015 Silver
Les Domaines Paul Mas Côte Mas Crémant de Limoux Brut Languedoc France NV Silver
Muscatine (Rhonea Distribution) Muscat à Petits Grains Rhône France 2017 Silver
Bouvet Ladubay Bouvet Saphir Brut Blanc Loire France 2015 Silver
Lidl Ireland Comte de Senneval Champagne Brut Champagne France 2017 Silver
Les Domaines Paul Mas Prima Perla Chardonnay Grand Réserve – Méthode Traditionnelle Languedoc France NV Silver
Patriarche Crémant de Burgundy Burgundy France NV Silver
Campo Viejo Gran Campo Viejo Cava Brut Reserva Cava Spain NV Bronze
Paladin Prosecco DOC Brut Bosco del Merlo Veneto Italy 2017 Bronze
Maycas del Limarí Espace Sparkling Wine Limarí Chile 2017 Bronze
MA. S.P.A. Vallate Prosecco DOC Brut Veneto Italy NV Silver
Maccari Spumanti Cuvée Centoventi Spumante Brut Veneto Italy 2017 Bronze
Caves Primavera Primavera Baga Extra Brut Águeda Portugal 2015 Bronze
Broglia Gavi DOCG Comune di La Meirana Sparkling Piemonte Italy 2017 Bronze
Masottina Prosecco Brut DOC Treviso Veneto Italy NV Bronze
Araldica Castelvero Alasia Alta Langa DOCG Piedmont Italy 2009 Bronze
Paladin Rosè Bosco del Merlo Veneto Italy NV Bronze
Weingut Reverchon Reverchon Riesling Crémant Brut Hessen Germany 2010 Gold
Maisons Marques et Domaines Quartet – Roederer Estate Anderson Valley USA NV Gold
Fontanafredda Vigna Gatinera Alta Langa DOCG Piedmont Italy 2008 Gold
Masottina Conegliano Valdobbiadene Brut DOCG Prosecco Superiore Veneto Italy NV Silver
Masottina Contrada Granda Brut Rive di Ogliano Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Veneto Italy NV Silver
Weingut Reverchon Reverchon Blanc et Noir Brut Hessen Germany 2011 Silver
Gaierhof Maso Poli Trentino DOC Riserva Trentino Alto Adige Italy 2012 Silver
Masottina ‘Costabella’ Brut Bio Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Veneto Italy NV Silver
Letrari Letrari Trentodoc Brut Riserva Trentino-Alto Adige Italy 2011 Silver
Ca’ d’Or Franciacorta DOCG Noble Cuvée Ca’ d’Or Lombardy Italy NV? Silver
Piera Martellozzo ONEDIS Ribolla Gialla Spumante Millesimato Brut Selezione Di Friuli Venezia Giulia Italy 2016 Silver
Revì Revì Dosaggio Zero Trento Italy 2014 Silver
Tosti Tosti Alta Langa Cuvée Giulio Piedmont Italy 2011 Bronze
Villa Sandi Ribolla Gialla Brut Friuli Venezia Giulia Italy 2016 Bronze
Fitz Winery Fitz Sparkling Wine Made in England Sussex England 2017 Bronze
Barone Pizzini Franciacorta Animante Lombardy Italy NV Bronze

White sparkling brut, continued…

Company Wine Vintage Region Country Medal
Cantine Monfort Monfort Riserva Brut Trentino-Alto Adige Italy 2012 Master
Torelló Cava de Paraje Calificado Barcelona Spain 2011 Gold
Ca’ d’Or Franciacorta DOCG Saten Lombardy Italy NV Gold
Maison Mumm Mumm Grand Cordon Champagne France NV Gold
Maison Perrier-Jouët Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut Champagne France NV Gold
Wiston Estate Cuvée South Downs, Sussex UK 2009 Gold
Wiston Estate Blanc de Noirs South Downs, Sussex UK 2010 Gold
Bonfadini Franciacorta Franciacorta Carpe Diem Saten DOCG Lombardia Italy 2015 Gold
Postumia Vini Chardonnay & Riesling Veneto Orientale Italy 2014 Silver
Hattingley Valley Wines Hattingley Valley Classic Reserve Hampshire UK NV Silver
Vallerosa Bonci Michelangelo Marche Italy 2010 Bronze
Champagne Solemme Nature de Solemme Brut Nature Premier Cru Champagne France 2013 Bronze
Wyfold Vineyard Wyfold Vineyard Brut Oxford UK 2013 Bronze
Giulio Cocchi Spumanti Bianc ‘d Bianc Metodo Classico Alta Langa DOCG Piemonte Italy 2013 Bronze
Maison Perrier-Jouët Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque Champagne France 2011 Gold
Champagne Leclerc Briant Brut Réserve Champagne France NV Gold
Maison Perrier-Jouët Perrier-Jouët Blanc de Blancs Champagne France NV Gold
Champagne Leclerc Briant Premier Cru Extra Brut Champagne France NV Silver
Endrizzi Masetto Privé Trentino Alto Adige Italy 2008 Silver
Champagne Leclerc Briant Abyss Champagne France NV Silver
Frescobaldi Leonia Pomino Brut Toscana Italy 2014 Bronze

White sparkling over 12g/l

Company Wine Vintage Region Country Medal
Under £10
Törley Hungaria Irsai Olivér Doux Hungary Hungary NV Gold
Lidl Ireland Prosecco Treviso DOC Frizzante Treviso Italy 2017 Silver
Banfi Bepop Siena Italy NV Silver
Gruppo Italiano Vini Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie DOC Spumante Extra Dry Bolla Verona Italy NV Silver
Santero Santero Asti Secco DOCG Piemonte Italy NV Silver
Törley Törley Excellence Sarga Muskotaly Doux Hungary Hungary NV Silver
Santero Asti Degli Angeli DOCG Santero Piemonte Italy NV Silver
Ponte Prosecco Spumante DOC Treviso Extra Dry Millesimato Ponte Veneto Italy 2017 Silver
Ponte Bianco Spumante Extra Dry Ponte Veneto Italy NV Bronze
Törley Törley Excellence Chardonnay Extra Sec Hungary Hungary NV Bronze
Lidl Ireland Prosecco Spumante Conegliano Valdo DOCG Italy 2017 Bronze
Santero Villa Jolanda Prosecco DOC Extra Dry Piemonte Italy NV Bronze
Araldica Castelvero Asti DOCG Secco Verona Italy NV Bronze
Scavi & Ray Scavi & Ray Moscato Emilia-Romagna Italy 2017 Gold
Invivo Wines Graham Norton’s Own Prosecco DOC Veneto – Friuli Italy NV Silver
Tosti Tosti Asti DOCG Secco-Dry Piedmont Italy NV Silver
Paladin Prosecco DOC Extra Dry Bosco del Merlo Veneto Italy 2017 Silver
Fiol FIOL Prosecco Treviso Italy NV Silver
Viña Maipo Vitral Sparkling Central Valley Chile 2017 Silver
Ponte Prosecco Spumante DOC Treviso Extra Dry Ponte Veneto Italy NV Silver
Campo Viejo Gran Campo Viejo Cava Brut Rosé Cava Spain NV Bronze
Scavi & Ray Scavi & Ray Prosecco Frizzante DOC Veneto Italy 2017 Bronze
Maycas del Limarí Espace Demi Sec Limarí Chile 2017 Bronze
Giulio Cocchi Spumanti Asti DOCG Piemonte Italy NV Master
MA. S.P.A. Vallate Prosecco DOC Extra Dry Veneto Italy NV Silver
Montelliana Asolo Prosecco DOCG Superiore Millesimato Extra Dry Veneto Italy 2017 Silver
Scavi & Ray Scavi & Ray Prosecco Spumante DOC Veneto Italy 2017 Silver
Masottina Prosecco Extra Dry DOC Treviso Veneto Italy NV Bronze
Montelliana Montelliana ‘57’ Asolo Prosecco DOCG Superiore Extra Dry Veneto Italy 2017 Bronze
Masottina ‘Le Rive di Ogliano’ Extra Dry Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Veneto Italy 2017 Gold
Cantina Santa Maria La Palma ‘Akènta’ Vermentino di Sardegna DOC Spumante Sardinia Italy 2017 Silver
Scavi & Ray Scavi & Ray Ice Prestige Veneto Italy 2017 Silver
Masottina ‘Conegliano Valdobbiadene Extra Dry’ DOCG Prosecco Superiore Veneto Italy NV Bronze
Scavi & Ray Scavi & Ray Prosecco Superiore DOCG Veneto Italy 2016 Bronze

Rosé sparkling brut

Company Wine Vintage Region Country Medal
Under £10
Patriarche Louis Perdrier Rosé Burgundy France NV Bronze
Patriarche Veuve du Vernay Rosé Burgundy France NV Bronze
Patriarche Cremant de Burgundy Rosé Burgundy France NV Silver
Il Casello La Rosa Emilia-Romagna Italy 2017 Bronze
Grover Zampa Vineyards Zampa Soirée Brut Rosé Mumbai India 2016 Bronze
Maycas del Limarí Espace Rose Limarí Valley Chile 2017 Bronze
Rose Mary (Rhonea Distribution) Méditerranée Vaucluse France 2017 Bronze
Banfi Cuvée Aurora Rosé Alta Langa DOCG Siena Italy 2014 Silver
Costaripa Mattia Vezzola Rosé Lombardy Italy NV Gold
Maisons Marques et Domaines Quartet Rosé – Roederer Estate Anderson Valley USA NV Gold
Baracchi Brut Rosé Metodo Classico Tuscany Italy 2015 Silver
Fontanafredda Contessa Rosa Rosé Alta Langa DOCG Piedmont Italy 2012 Silver
Bonfadini Franciacorta Franciacorta Opera Rosé Lombardia Italy SA (2015) Silver
Wyfold Vineyard Wyfold Vineyard Brut Rosé Oxford UK 2014 Bronze
Maison Perrier-Jouët Perrier-Jouët Blason Rosé Champagne France NV Master
Barone Pizzini Franciacorta Rosé Lombardy Italy 2014 Silver

Rosé sparkling over 12g/l

Company Wine Vintage Region Country Medal
Under £10
Törley Törley Orfeum Rosé Sec Hungary Hungary NV Silver
Arba Wine Rosa Assa Valley 2014 Almaty Region Kazakhstan 2014 Silver
Masottina Cuvée Rosé Extra Dry Veneto Italy NV Silver
Maccari Rosé Spumante Dry Veneto Italy 2017 Bronze

Red sparkling

Company Wine Vintage Region Country Medal
Under £10
Cleto Chiarli Villa Cialdini –Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC Emilia-Romagna Italy 2017 Gold
Baldini Marchese Manodori Emilia-Romagna Italy 2017 Bronze
Baldini Montelocco Emilia-Romagna Italy 2017 Bronze
Scavi & Ray Scavi & Ray Lambrusco Emilia-Romagna Italy 2017 Silver
Cleto Chiarli Pruno Nero Dry Emilia-Romagna Italy 2017 Silver
Il Casello Bonarda Emilia-Romagna Italy 2017 Silver
Baldini Rubino del Cerro Emilia-Romagna Italy 2017 Bronze

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