IWSC judging blog: It's a record-breaking year for Italy at the 2021 IWSC

Wine news

Sat 15 May 2021

By Kristen Dougall


It was an impressive year for Italian entries and a record-breaking year for the number of gold medals awarded. Our judges were treated to a wide variety of styles, vintages and quality. They showed some great appreciation for the Veneto region, it was Soave this year that excited the panels. The 2019 and 2020 vintages performed exceptionally well. The delicate notes coming through from these wines made the judges take this Italian white seriously as a contender for a lot of medals. Amarone showed real consistency with great depth and energising characteristics. This category still represents a high standard and rarely disappoints, proving it to be a reassuring wine for consumers. The range of Valpolicellas tasted this year were very diverse in terms of style, with a select few standouts. The best examples had bright cherry fruit characteristics that shone through with great balance of tannins.

Of course, we could not talk about Veneto without mentioning the region’s sparkling crowd-pleaser, Prosecco. The Proseccos tasted this year were of top quality, our judges found some real stars from the DOCG regions, namely Asolo and Conegliano Valdobbiadene. The experts were encouraged by the winemakers’ use of new grape varieties for the Italian sparkling wines, they added a refreshing touch to the flight. This year we had a new category to take the stage at the IWSC, Prosecco rosé. The judges felt the sparklings were a really interesting flight, they had nice balance and purity of fruit without being forced or artificial.

Pinot Grigio, arguably one of the most important wines in the market, often associated with House Wines, this year had a few stars, showing the winemaking of some ambitious producers. The steely characteristics and sleek texture were praised by the judges.

Italy’s indigenous grape varieties did not disappoint this year. Golds were awarded to a stand-out Pecorino from Abruzzo and some great quality Vermentinos were commended by the judges. Our experts saw a great future for these fantastic examples of great Italian white wines for modern-day drinking. The wines had fresh, clean palates with great minerality coming through, but never sacrificing on the fruit.


It was encouraging to see a gold awarded to an impressive Lambrusco. This somewhat unfashionable style is breaking the stereotypes and demanding respect from consumers. The gold winner was praised for its versatility and food friendliness.

Turning our attention to more Italian reds, the flights of Chianti this year put our judges to the test. It was the Gran Selezione wines that most impressed our judges. The wines were full bodied and showed some impressive use of oak. It was Barolo that our judges declared the superstar for Italy this year. The wines were remarked as ‘exceptional’, even in the more difficult vintages, the wines did not disappoint, showing great skill from the winemakers.

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