Top 50 Sparkling Wines for 2021 revealed

Bubbles on the rise as The 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World for 2021 Gold & Silver medal results are announced.

Once again Italy and Portugal dominate the best of the bubblies from around the world with England and New Zealand also sharing Gold.

Now in it’s 9th vintage, the world’s most respected sparkling wine competition by the trade, The 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World has received a record breaking year making it even tougher for the judges to arrive at the 50 best sparkling wines for Christmas and 2021.

The 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World results and medals according to method of production can be viewed at the link below:

Italy once again dominate the medal table demonstrating the huge, diverse and exciting potential of Italian sparkling wine in all 4 judging categories namely – Traditional Method, Charmat Method, Frizzante and Ancestral Method gaining no less that 52 medals across each category. Portugal came in second with19 medals For the first time since the competition began, new entries were received from Croatia, England (3 Gold Medals) and New Zealand (Gold)

A team of 5 judges over 4 days tasted sparkling wines blind according to method of production, dosage and time on the lees.

Anthony Swift, Founder and Competition Director, declared “The competition, in terms of number of entries grows every year and this year has been no exception.This year has seen entries from diverse terroirs such as Argentina’s Uco Valley, Australia’s McClaren Vale and Riverland, Chile’s Casablanca, England’s County of Sussex, France’s Loire Valley, Slovenia’s Podraje and Spain’s DO Valencia to name just a few. For Italy we seem to have had the full spread: Friuli Venezia Giulia, Franciacorta and Lombardy, Veneto, Trentino and Emilia Romagna. In these challenging times we find ourselves in and with online sales of wine rising dramatically sparkling wine producers are clearly seeing the value of being judged against the rest of the world and by gainig a Gold or Silver medal command credibility and respect. In the wine market place, be it export or to the end customer, producers with bubbles amongst the 50 Greats 2021 will win in the COVID era we are currently living in while other producers sitting at home with their heads in the sand waiting for Covid to pass by may well lose”.

50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World is an annual competition organised by Wine Pleasures.

Spain’s Top Cava for 2021

The world’s largest and most relevant sparkling wine competition for bubblies made under established rules by Spain’s Cava Regulating Board, the 50 Great Cavas 2021 competition by Wine Pleausres is delighted to announce that a total of 3 Gold & 47 Silver medals have been awarded in this year’s competition to 18 different Cava producers.

Understandably, Spain’s Catalonia region with just over 95% of the total Cava production, gained the largest haul of medals with 37 medals, with 13 medals coming in from Calatayud, Extremadura, and Utiel- Requena (Valencia),

The judges all commented that this has been a strange year with only 3 Gold medals being awarded when in 2020 a total of 14 Gold medals were awarded.

Anthony Swift, Founder and Competition Director, declared “I hope that readers of the results gain more insight into the nature of Cava – it’s clear to me that whilst there are, of course, excellent young Cavas, it’s often best to look to the Premium Cava category, those which are termed Reserva and Gran Reserva. Mostly, these Cavas, which have had extra aging on their lees, continue to satisfy consumers’ refreshing, celebratory requirement whilst also adding extra dimensions of depth of flavour, complexity and character”

The results of the 2021 edition of annual competition 50 Great Cavas can be viewed at and contains all the Gold and Silver medal winners with photos for each. 50 Great Cavas 2021 is a useful resource consulted by both the on and off trade and the end wine consumer/wine traveller.

50 Great Cavas is an annual competition organised by Wine Pleasures

Introducing Italian WINE Week online trade fair

As a global community, we are going through a time of unprecedented change and disruption. Together, we will get through it! For many of us in the wine industry, we’re having to adapt not only to a new routine of working from home but also having to deal with the uncertainty of the future. Our next Wine Pleasures event is looking to help wine importers connect with boutique wine producers when travel is virtually impossible.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve discovered that virtual events aren’t a “nice-to-have” anymore, they’re a must-have.

Respected wine event organsier Wine Events Worldwide under their brand Wine Pleauares is, on the 26 – 28 May going to lauch the first edition of Italian WINE Week – an online trade fair to give wine producers the chance to pitch their wineries and wines to wine buyers from around the globe. Event host Anthony Swift explaiins how it is going to work.

Tell us about Italian WINE Week.

As we organise B2B Workshops in Spain, Italy and the UK it made sense in these challenging times to look at how to keep wine producers and wine buyers connected and doing business while simultaneously providing educational content to help the wine importer with their businesses. Having just completed Spanish WINE Week, organising the Italian WINE week was a obvious next step.

Delivered in English, the Italain WINE Week 3 day education programme offers cutting edge professional education opportunities for the wine buying professionals at all levels. Attendees can take advantage of influential, expert led sessions and enhance their knowledge, grow their business and in their profession and be inspired in these challenging times! It also contains Live interviews with boutique wine producers to enable wine buyers to discover the surprising terroirs & Wines of Italy. Each producer will have a profile page where buyers can request a B2B online meeting.

That seems like a good blend of  tools to help both producers and buyers in what is a difficult time. How did Spanish WINE Week go?

Apart from a few techincal hitches it went very well. We had Master of Wine Fernado Mora as one of the keynote speakers and we had a good range of boutique wine producers from around Spain. The event was attended by wine importers and distributors from Japan to the USA and from Scandinavian countries to Australia.

So how will Italian WINE Week work? 

Much the same as Spansih WINE Week but with a greater attendance of wine importers – we are expecting betweeen 500 and 1000 buyers to sign up for the event on 26 – 28 May 2020.

5 live daily session will be run with a program that includes  talks delivered by expert speakers, interviews with producers, and some videos of different regions of Italy.  We’re also providing a tool to set up private meetings between producers and buyers to create new business opportunities.

Wine producers interested in participating in the programme should register here:

What happens if a buyer signs up but misses a live session?

No problem. If an attendee misses any or all of the live sessions he or she will be able to view a replay whenever convenient. 

How do buyers get involved if they want to participate?

The event is free for wine buyers, distributors, retailers, agents, journalists and bloggers. Wine importers can sign up for free here:

If you would like to find out any more about Italian WINE Week then contact Caterina Longhi on or T. +39 347 6785162

The Surprising Terroirs & Wines of Italy

We are delighted to announce our first keynote speaker for the first edition of Italian WINE Week, Richard Baudains who will be joining us on Day 1 of Italian WINE Week (26 May 2020) at 13.00 delivering a talk titled The Surprising Terroirs & Wines of Italy.

Italian wines taste different. Italian grape varieties give flavours that you don’t find anywhere else. The vineyards are planted on rock, on limestone, on volcanic ash, on clay, on sand, or on mixtures of all these. To fashion these raw materials into modern, exciting wines, there is a generation of young winemaker who have travelled the world and learned all there is to know about winemaking. The results are incredibly varied in style, from delicate, low-alcohol whites to the richest imaginable reds, from gentle rosés to the great sparkling wines. It will be an introduction to open your eyes to a new world of very different wines

About Richard

Richard Baudains was born and bred in Jersey in the Channel Islands and trained to be a teacher of English as a foreign language. After several years in various foreign climes, Baudains settled down in beautiful Friuli-Venezia Giulia, having had the good fortune to reside previously in the winemaking regions of Piemonte, Tuscany, Liguria and Trentino-Alto Adige. Baudains is a regular contributor on Italian wines for the Decanter magazine. His day job as director of a language school conveniently leaves time for a range of wine-related activities including writing for the Slow wine guide, leading tastings and lecturing in wine journalism at L’Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche and for the web-based Wine Scholars’ Guild.

Looking ahead to October Richard will be taking part in the upcoming International Wine Tourism Conference (IWINETC) leading a wine tasting titled Vines and Wines of Friuli-Venezia Giulia on the 27th October 2020.

More info at

The Surprising Terroirs & Wines of Spain

We are delighted to announce our second keynote speaker for the first edition of Spanish WINE Week, Clara Antúnez, who will be joining us on Day 1 of Spanish WINE Week at 14.00 delivering a talk titled The Surprising Terroirs & Wines of Spain  

Clara Anutnez speaker at Spanish WINE Week by Wine Pleasures #spanishwineweek

View the complete Spanish WINE Week programme here

Spanish wines taste different. Spanish grape varieties give flavours that you don’t find anywhere else. The vineyards are planted on rock, on limestone, on volcanic ash, on clay, on sand, or on mixtures of all these. To fashion these raw materials into modern, exciting wines, there is a generation of young winemaker who have travelled the world and learned all there is to know about winemaking. The results are incredibly varied in style, from delicate, low-alcohol whites to the richest imaginable reds, from gentle rosés to the great sparkling wines. It will be an introduction to open your eyes to a new world of very different wines.

About Clara

With a long career and wide recognition as a sommelier, she has been in the industry for over 12 years.

She possesses an education and an integrated vision where nutrition, cuisine and wines complement each other in order to provide added value and differentiation to her great passion.

Besides having written many articles, she has published 1 book about nutrition and 3 books about wines.

She is an expert in training and she knows the territory both in food products and in wines.Nowadays is running her own company called La Gastronòmica, she is responsible for the design and creativity of the services and the operations management


Fernando Mora MW Keynote Spanish WINE Week

We are thrilled to announce our first keynote speaker for the first edition of Spanish WINE Week, Fernando Mora, Master of Wine, who will be joining us on Day 1 at 18.30 delivering a talk titled Why Spain’s Garnacha is on everyone’s lips and Day 2 at 14.00 Old Vines, Better Wines? of Spanish WINE Week.

Fernando Mora MW working in the vineyard
Fernando Mora MW Keynote Spanish WINE Week 2020

View the complete Spanish WINE Week programme here

Fernando Mora studied BSc Mantenance and Production Management, 1st in the year and worked in the industrial sector for 10 years, he complemented his studies with an MBA. In 2009 became in love with wine and started producing wine in Valdejalón region, north east Spain, founding Bodegas Frontonio. He gained DipWSET title, Viticulture Expert by La Rioja University, and in 2017 he obtained the prestigious Master of Wine, first attempt. Today, his life is all about making wines from his old dry faring vineyards, he conducts semminars for profesionals and consults sporadically with other wineries.


Enoturismo en Casa

Con el confinamiento en casa de casi todo Europa,  la empresa Wine Events Worldwide bajo su marca Wine Pleasures ubicada en la provincia de Barcelona ha anuciado su proyecto Wine Tourism at home (Enoturismo en Casa). Ante la imposibilidad de salir de casa que muchas personas en Europa tienen, Wine Pleasures quiere ofrecer una actividad para poder disfrutar en casa del enoturismo y del vino a través del internet.

El pack Wine Tourism Experience at home que se etrega a domicilio sin contacto humano, incluye 3 botellas de 3 bodegas artesanas differentes, las fichas técnicas, un sacacorchos o un tapón de Cava y una copia del libro editado por Wine Pleasures titulado “50 Great Cavas”. Una vez entregada un sumiller se pone en contacto con el cliente a fin de establcer día y hora para hacerles una visita guida virtual de cada bodega así como una cata comentada de cada vino de cada bodega. El sumiller ademàs se comenta cuestiones tales como el vino, su cuidado, forma adecuada de servirlo e introducción a las nociones básicas de maridaje. La actividad es divertido y al la vez educativa y además apoya no solo a las bodegas artesanas familiares españolas no presentes en las grandes supermercados sino también a sumillers que trabajan habitualmente en el sector HORECA.

La iniciative Wine Tourism at home está accesible en la web de Wine Pleasures.  Las 3 experiencas a escoger son las siguientes:

  • Discover Spain’s Penedès Cava region
  • Nose out bold red wine regions of Spain
  • Summer whites in Spain’s Catalonia wine regions

Wine Tourism at Home

With many European countries currently in lockdown, businesses have had to get creative throughout. Tourism is a hard hit sector as families and friends are now forced to entertain themselves at home. Some tourism service providers have been putting on their thinking hats and come up with some interesting affordable iniciatives.

Barcelona based business Wine Events Worldwide under their brand name Wine Pleasures has come up with a unique and brand new idea of organising Wine tourism at home. And it comes with all the fixings to go on a “winery tour” of some of Catalonia’s best boutique wine producers right from the customer’s own home. Here’s how it works, according to Wine Pleasures.

A wine tourism experience box will be delivered, with no physical contact with anyone to the customer’s door anywhere in Europe and containing a selection of 3 wines from 3 different family producers. Customers are later linked up with a qualified sommellier who will take them on a 45 minute virtual tour of each winery, telling a few winery stories while guiding the customer through the tasting of each wine looking at colour, aromas and taste. The experience is both fun and educational and can cater for up to 10 people.

Customers can choose from 3 initial wine tourism experiences:

  • Discover Spain’s Penedès Cava region
  • Nose out bold red wine regions of Spain
  • Summer whites in Spain’s Catalonia wine regions

Purchases of the wine tourism experience, which costs just €170 (includes postage and packaging) for homes in Europe can be enjoyed by the whole family so a family of 5 will only really be paying  €34 each.

This completely immersive experience will not only be educational and fun to do, but each wine tourism experience purchased will be supporting three small boutique winery businesses not present on the supermarket shelves.It will also provide employment for sommelliers not able to work in restaurants and hotels.

For more information on Wine Tourism Experiences at Home by Wine Pleasures here: 

The Secret’s Out: Exciting Wines from Bolivia

Shouldering against the titans of Argentina, Brazil and Chile, Bolivia has undoubtedly got a battle on when it comes to export markets but to be fair wine has only been produced in Bolivia for 400 years or so.

Almost all of Bolivia’s vineyards are located between 1,600 and 3,000 metres above sea level. Indeed, Bolivia may very well be the country with the highest vineyard surface in the world. These lofty altitudes provide high UV exposure and wide ranging diurnal temperatures, giving deep coloured but fresh wines, with ripe tannins and high acidity and have been appropriately been given the name High Altitude Wines.

On a recent visit to Bolivia and with the help and guidance of the Wines of Bolivia Association, Wine Pleasures visited two of Bolivia’s most extensive wine producing regions: The Central Valley of Tarija (El Valle de la Concepción – some 2,400 hectares of vineyards) around but mostly south of the tranquil colonial town of Tarija and to the popular tourist spot of Samaipata (Valleys of Santa Cruz – 100 hectares of vineyards) a 2-3 hour drive from Santa Cruz de la Sierra.


The main varieties planted in the central Valley of Tarija are Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Malbec, Tannat, Garnacha and Barbera in reds and Muscat of Alexandria, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Franc Colombard and Chenin Blanc in whites.

Bodega La Concepción

First up was a visit to Bodega La Concepción. Started in 1986 with day to day table wines along with Singani Rujero it has evolved into a Premium wine producer making monovarietal and blended wines from the following international grape varieties: Cabernet Suavignon, Syrah, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay all under the brand name of High Altitude Vines.

Singani Rujero Colección Privada

Distilled from 100% high altitude Muscat of Alexandria, it’s a clear, bright punchy 40% alcohol spirit. Citrus on the nose with floral notes. Smooth velvety mouthfeel with lavender on the palate. Long lingering finish. Our host Carlos Paz Ide informed us that Singani works well in cocktails such as a refreshing Chuflay (ginger ale or lemon- lime soda), Sucumbé (milk, egg and cinnamon – a bit like eggnog), Yungueño (syrup and orange juice) and Té con Té ( hot black tea, cinnamon and lime – warms you up on the high mountains!).

Cepas de Altura Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Deep intense colour. Red forest fruits on the nose with hints of pepper and fennel. Fruity entrance albeit a tad herbaceous making for a slightly bitter palate. Assertive tannin. Some vanilla on the lingering finish. Should pair very well with a leg of lamb cooked with figs or prunes and some of the local strong cheeses.

Bodegas Kohlberg

After an interesting lunch in Fogon de Gringo in Tarija consisting of mostly meat, rice and vegetables followed by a pancake desert with cloves and aniseed (Tojori) and a red from La Concepción we headed back out for our second winery visit to Bodegas Kohlberg.

Just by entering the winery and seeing the huge towering and numerous inox tanks you would be right to guess that Kohlberg is the largest wine producer in the Tarija region. The wine we tasted was a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (60%), Malbec (20%) & Syrah (20%) partly aged in new oak barrels. The wine is called 200 Años Gran Reserva and commemorates the bicentennial of Tarija.

200 Años Gran Reserva Edition limitada 2017

Intense fruit aromas of Fruits of the forest, dark cherry. Delicate and discreet fruit on the palate which is light bodied but with strong tannins still  abound. Slightly herbaceous on a subtle fruity finish which is lingering.

Bodega y Viñedos Kuhlmann

At the family winery Bodega y Viñedos Kuhlmann we were hosted by winemaker Franz Molina Conzelmann. Pioneer Franz Kuhlmann founded the winery in 1930 and is well known for making Singani and more recently an interesting sparkling wine called Altosama Espumente de Altura a Brut made using the charmat method. Tropical fruit and floral notes. Lively fizz. Fruity palate. Slight bitter almond on the finish. It is featured as one of the 50 Great Sparkling Wines of the World 2019 and was awarded a Gold medal (95 points) in the annual competition organised by Wine Pleasures.

The Singani Los Parrales Reserva Aniversario (100% Muscat of Alexandria) also won Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits  Competition.

The winery recently built a state of the art new winery on the outskirts of Tarija in the Santa Ana district with great views of the Santa Ana valley and Alto Sama mountains.

The winery also owns the 5* Resort Hotel Los Parrales (where we stayed) 3.5 Kms out of the town centre which affords views of Tarija and the River Guadalquivír.

Campos de Solana

At Campos de Solana, a large, premium brand open for wine tourism we were hosted by winemaker Nelson Sfarcich and Production Manager Jorge Furio. Working with Malbec, cabernet sauvignon, tannat in reds and Riesling in whites, we were treated to their Decanter (Platinum) award winning wine Único 2016 on what was a flying visit.


For the last leg of our trip to discover wines and wine tourism in Bolivia we were to head to the Valleys of Santa Cruz de la Sierra which is home to only a few small wineries dedicated to the production of wine and Singani. The Valleys of Santa Cruz are located immediately to the Southwest of the Codo de los Andes between 18º and 19º of latitude south. Currently there are up to 300 ha planted but there is a potential to plant as many as 10,000 ha especially around Vallegrande well known by Che Guevara pilgrims. Our destination was to be the Uvairenda winery located close to the touristic town of Samaipata (a two and a half hour drive from Santa Cruz de la Sierra) in the foothills of the Cordillera Oriental.


Francisco Roig, Head Winemaker & Co-Owner of Uvairenda has his vineyards  between 1700 and 1800 meters above sea level on terraced slopes, and is working with Cabernet Sauvignon, Tannat, Syrah, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Merlot for reds and Torrontés, Sauvignon Blanc, Pedro Giménez and Chardonnay for whites. His wines can be best described as boutique and while we did not get the chance to meet Francisco we were able to talk to his colleague, Humberto Andrade in the Uvairenda office and shop in Calle Sucre #700 (Casco Viejo), Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

We tasted the following wines:

1750 – Pedro Giménez 2017 Citrus notes particularly grapefruit on the nose and buttery notes. Creamy texture, bitter almond entrance and palate. Long persistent nutty finish.

1750 – Tannat Vintage 2017 Blackcurrant, licorice, blackberry, herbs, cloves, Fruity entrance, spicy and slightly bitter palate. Pleasant tannins. Long lingering finish.

We asked about the 1750 on the labels expecting it to be a year something happened but in fact it is the minimum altitude of Francisco’s vineyards.

While most have probably never heard of wines of Bolivia let alone tasted any, this could well be all set to change in the coming years as Wines of Bolivia get noticed at trade fairs such as Prowein and international wine competitions. With most tour operators and travel agents currently taking FIT and group travel to La Paz, Lake Titcaca and a flight down to Salar de Uyuni, there is much to be done by the Ministerio de Culturas y Turismo from a wine and culinary tourism perspective as little is currently being done to attract this niche tourism.

Article by Anthony Swift
Photos by Rosa Antelo Moreno

After 300 harvests, Mas Codina go back to organic roots

Up in the Alt Penedès, watched over by the impressive peak of Montserrat, Mas Codina is a small organic family winery, which maintains very much of a local and traditional feel, growing 40 hectares of red and white grapes. A lazy Saturday morning provided the perfect excuse to pay a little visit to learn about their personal process and sample some of the fruits of their labours.

The house was constructed back in 1681, with grape cultivation beginning some time after that (records are a little patchy so far back in the mists of time!). When wine production first began, it was originally stored in barrels and sold to other wineries in that format, along with harvested grapes ready for processing, but in 1985 the family began bottling their own wine. The business has grown from there, still today growing all of their own vines, and selling some of their grapes on to other wine producers.

Many of their vines are still in the traditional style of freestanding bushes, making the most of the available space, slowly being replaced by the system of row support wires now more widely seen around the world. The different varieties are planted in differing directions to make the most of the sunlight. While around 10% of the crop is harvested by machine in the cooler night-times in August, the rest is all lovingly harvested by hand slightly later in the year as the other varieties ripen, and more helping hands are available assist with the picking.

Seeking to be kinder to the environment, and also following the increasingly popular trend, Mas Codina was certified as an organic producer in 2017, after the required three years’ conversion period. Today, they use no chemicals on their grapes, only certain minerals such as copper and sulphur to help in natural prevention of crop diseases. In place of harmful insecticides, natural hormones are used to discourage moths from destroying the grapes. Old, gnarly olive trees provide a rustic border to the vineyards, and are also used for the production of organic olive oil.

The cellar keeps the bottles cool to allow the Cavas to age and create their complexity, with climate control if needed to maintain exactly the right temperature during the hot summers’ days. The pressing and storage machines are glistening and modern, to maximise the efficiency of production, but as the winery’s unwritten motto says, the quality of the product is down to the grapes and the traditional know how that goes into their growing and cultivation through the year. Good grapes mean a good final product; the machines simply facilitate the process.

The grapes are separated from the twigs, cooled to around 15° to protect the aroma and avoid oxidation, and pressed. Like many grape growers, Mas Codina keep only the finest grapes and the first pressing for themselves, selling off any excess and further pressings to other wineries. Of the wine produced, 70% is cava, and the rest is still wine, both red and white. Roughly 65% is exported, 25% being consumed in the local Catalan region, and 10% being consumed elsewhere in Spain – it seems the rest of Spain has not yet discovered the deliciousness within.

As any good winery visit should, ours ended with a tasting.  Seated around a small round table, the anticipation was palpable – having featured several times previously in the annual 50 Great Cavas competition, it was little surprise that the Cava we tried was delicious, and it was just a shame there was not the chance to try more – rumour has it that the Mas Codina Brut Rosé is especially tasty!

The award winning Cava we tasted on the day was the Mas Codina Brut Nature Reserva 2015

Tim Hall
Travel Blog Writer>>