Over a year, trade magazine 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.
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?