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Home News > May 2020 > Has prosecco finally been pipped to the post?

Year-on-year it seems as though consumers never bore of the Italian fizz, and while bottomless brunches were still on the rise, it didn’t look like its title was ever going to be taken - until now...

Sommelier Wine Awards (SWA) team leader and director of Vinoteca Charlie Young, shared his thoughts at the judging days on what consumers expect from the popular Italian sparkling: ‘People don’t want prosecco rewritten. They just want prosecco, with the balance and character that it’s known for. The judging here was all about the degrees to which we thought they’d nailed that character.’

The minerality and fresh fruit characteristics of prosecco make it a firm favourite amongst consumers, but it’s the value for money that really pleases our judges. Olivier Gasselin, the director of trade at OenoTrade, identified prosecco as ‘an important part of a list’. There is no denying the necessity for prosecco on a wine list, but this year’s SWA results saw another strong contender in the sparkling race. Luma Monteiro, Wine Specialist and founder of Wineria, expressed at the judging that ‘prosecco had its boom, but people are now looking for something else’. Could that something else be cava?

At this year’s competition, the cava category really stood out, so much so that judges awarded a Gold medal and a Critics’ Choice award to Llopart, Imperial Panoramic, Cava Brut Gran Reserva 2013, Catalonia, Spain. Our judges were impressed by the wine’s ‘great minerality’ and the presence of ‘lots of fruit, considering the age’. This is the first time in SWA history that a cava has been awarded a Critics’ Choice award. ¡Bien hecho!

But the sparkling surprises didn’t stop there, our judges were truly inspired by what they found across Europe, from the autolytic notes of the Franciacortas, to the complex fruity aromas from the French crémants, and the refreshingly ‘morish’ German sparkling wines – there was something for everyone.

It wasn’t just prosecco and champagnes neighbouring fizzes that impressed our judges, this year New World sparkling wine really shone. ‘These wines showed real diversity across the countries’ said Sam Weatherill, restaurant manager and sommelier from Etch. By Steven Edwards. He definitely sees a place in the on-trade for these wines, noting that: ‘people are looking for that reasonably priced aperitif that’s more of a treat and a bit different to prosecco, but not as pricey as champagne.’ And he wasn’t alone in his opinion, team leader Angela Reddin also admired the wines for having a ‘quality level that was much higher than general prosecco, and I didn’t baulk at the prices either. They’re great because they’re different.’

Prosecco and champagne Still performed very well this year, but it’s great to see so many other sparkling regions being recognised for the excellent winemaking taking place. The diversity of entrants across categories is what makes SWA so exciting for our judges, and keeps them coming back year-on-year.