The IWSC Northern Hemisphere results are out

Wine news

Wed 19 May 2021

By Pip Mortimer

IWSC 2021 highlights

  • 60 judges: 23% Masters of Wine, 13% Master Sommeliers and 100% leading wine experts from every sector of the drinks trade, including buyers, importers and distributors.
  • Wines entered from 39 different countries comprising of 329 different grape varieties.
  • 3,400 medals were awarded from bronze, silver to the coveted gold.
  • New categories to take the stage in 2021 were Prosecco rosé and Chinese sweet wines.
  • 148 gold medals were awarded to superb wines with great personality, character and complexity, from 19 different countries, including England, Canada, France and Italy.
  • Record-breaking medal count for Italy, with Barolo taking home the most medals.
IWSC judges Rebecca Palmer, David Kermode and Roger Jones enjoy a socially distanced photo moment with wine blogger Hannah Bouchon. Credit: Hannah Bouchon

The IWSC is delighted to fulfil yet another round of judging during a global pandemic. There were 60 experts in attendance: over 23% of the panels were Masters of Wine, over 13% Master Sommeliers, and all leading wine experts from every sector of the drinks trade, including buyers, importers and distributors. The 2021 Wine Judging Committee – John Hoskins MW, Sarah Abbott MW, Dirceu Vianna Junior MW and Alistair Cooper MW – oversaw the rigorous judging process, and social-distancing rules which were in place throughout the tastings.

Over 4,000 wines were tasted across two weeks, awarding 3,400 medals, from bronze, silver to the coveted gold. Wines were entered from 39 countries with 148 gold medals awarded. The judges were pleased to see high medal winners amongst emerging countries, including Japan, China, Moldova, Russia and Georgia.

The majority of entries were from still wines. However, the IWSC continues to see the sparkling category dominate the medal count. Over 800 sparkling wines were entered from across 18 different countries. Gold medals were awarded to sparkling wines from Champagne, Cava and Prosecco; while English sparkling wine continues to grow in quality and impress the judges. It was encouraging to see gold medals awarded to countries that are less renowned for their sparkling wine production, such as Moldova. And new to 2021, the Prosecco rosé category was praised by judges for its balance and purity of fruit.


Sweet wines continue to excite the judges, with wines coming from over 10 different countries, and – for the first time at the IWSC – judges were treated to sweet wines from China. 12 golds were awarded in this category, including wines from Greece, Canada and Austria.

This was the year the IWSC saw native grape varieties take centre stage. Around 50% of all entries came from lesser-known or indigenous varieties, with medal-winning grapes including Öküzgözü from Turkey, Beibinghong from China and Cvetochniy from Russia. As always, the more traditional varieties were well represented with 10% of entries being a blend of, or single-varietal Chardonnay wine.

Italy took home the most medals of all countries, with wines from every region of the country entered. It was refreshing to see gold medals awarded to less-prominent wines, namely an impressive Lambrusco from Emilia-Romagna and a stand-out Pecorino from Abruzzo. Barolo was able to maintain its status as ‘King of Wine’, with the Italian red receiving the most gold medals.


Christelle Guibert, CEO of the IWSC commented, “A huge congratulations to all our medal winners. It is so great to see the diversity of the wines entered year-on-year, with new categories, such as Prosecco rosé and Chinese sweet wines, represented in 2021.”

“As restrictions imposed by the global pandemic begin to ease, and the hospitality industry resumes its rightful place amongst the trade, it is reassuring to know that great winemakers and quality wines will continue to delight consumers.”

See the full list of the 2021 IWSC results.

The Wine Judging Committee will now be re-tasting each gold-winning wine to select the best bottles across a range of categories. The trophy-winners will be revealed on 25 October 2021.