English white wine is less divisive than English red wines, having a naturally clean and fresh taste that matches existing market demands. It is still early days, and as new grapes such as Madeleine Angevine, Chasselas and Reichensteiner begin to arrive on vineyards, we're expecting some exciting and inventive blends to emerge across the next few years. This is a glorious time to get into English wine.

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With the help of wine writer Oz Clarke, we've reviewed the top English white wines on the market today to bring you a stellar round-up of wines for all budgets for Christmas 2022. Here is our expert list to the best English white wines.

Looking to pop the bubbly soon? Check out our expert guide to English sparkling whites and sparkling roses.


The Best English white wines of 2022

Hattingley Valley Still White 2020

A triumphant Chardonnay from this Hampshire vineyard, which is better known for its sparkling wines. Produced in the dry, hot lockdown summer of 2020, head winemaker Emma Rice said, "With all the time in the world to spend in the vineyards we were able to nurture certain plots to ultimate ripeness, hence this, our first Still Chardonnay." True to her word, the wine won bronze at the International Wine Challenge in 2021, given the summary of "A crisp, linear nose with refreshing citrus and peardrop character."

  • Grapes: Chardonnay
  • Region: Hampshire
  • Vineyard: Like many farmers struggling to make farming pay, the Robinsons of Hattingley Valley turned to winemaking initially as a diversification project, back in 2008. They now have a 600-tonne 'eco-friendly' winery, built under the direction of head winemaker Emma Rice – twice winner of the UK Winemaker of the Year award, in 2014 and 2016. Rice sources grapes from different terroirs all over the UK as well as the Hattingley Estate in pursuit of new blends.

Oz Clarke's top three English white wines

The wine writer gives us his three recommendations to try for Christmas 2022.

Flint Vineyard Silex Blanc 2021

Flint Vineyard Silex Blanc 2021 as recommended by Oz Clarke for BBC Countryfile magazine

The year 2021 wasn’t an easy vintage, especially for late-ripening varieties such as Chardonnay, but this Chardonnay/Pinot Blanc blend is soft, fresh and surprisingly full-bodied – ripe apple with a teasing twist of green leaf.

  • Region: Norfolk
  • Grapes: Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay
  • Vineyard: Isn’t Norfolk a bit cold for vineyards? Obviously not, because this site on the River Waveney is in one of the driest and sunniest regions of England. This Silex Blanc is proof.

Buy now from Flint Vineyard (RRP £24)

Chapel Down Kit’s Coty Chardonnay 2019

Chapel Down Kits Coty Chardonnay 2019 as recommended by Oz Clarke for BBC Countryfile magazine

It’s a bit early to talk about anywhere in the country being the best site for anything. Most of our vineyards are hardly 10 years old. But the pale chalky soils of Kit’s Coty Vineyard, 38 hectares tucked beneath the Pilgrim’s Way on the Kent Downs, have a good shout. Every year they produce elegant, ripe, pale-golden nutty Chardonnay for everyone else to try to match.

  • Region: Kent
  • Grapes: Chardonnay
  • Vineyard: Chapel Down winery in Tenterden, Kent, produces this wine from Kit's Coty vineyard on the Kent Downs, to much acclaim.

Buy now from English Wine Collections (RRP £29)


Chapel Down Flint Dry 2020

Chapel Down’s Flint Dry, produced in the heart of the Kent countryside, is made from a blend of Chardonnay, Bacchus, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes to create an aromatic, crisp and refreshing wine. After one or two sips, undertones of apple and orange zest begin to appear (the bottle suggests grapefruit). This dry wine is lovely on its own but would also go well with light salads and seafood. DG

  • Grapes: Chardonnay, Bacchus, Pinot Black and Pinot Noir
  • Region: Kent
  • Vineyard: Chapel Down is in Tenterden, one of the loveliest parts of the leafy Kent countryside. It's most known for its sparkling wine, but its Bacchus is now becoming a household name. The Flint Dry is a softer version of the Bacchus, which should appeal to everyone at the table.

Buy now from Waitrose wine cellar (RRP £14.99)


Also consider: Chapel Down Bacchus

Chapel Down's Bacchus is one of the best examples of this type of English wine. It has a green apple nose, with tastes of melon and gooseberry that give way to crisp finish. It's earned its place on wine merchant shelves across the UK: when it was first released, it was lauded as England's answer to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. In my opinion, it's much cleaner and more subtle than such well-travelled wines, and more of a crowd pleaser. Highly recommended for your next dinner party, for one or more people. TJ


Bluebell Vineyard Ashdown Estate White 2020

A high-class white wine made from Chasselas grapes, that has smooth, rounded flavours that makes it a versatile choice for any occasion. Citrusy but not acidic and with a satisfying, refreshing aftertaste. FC

  • Region: Sussex
  • Grapes: Chasselas
  • Vineyard: Bluebell Vineyard, at Ashdown estate, began as a pig-farming operation, which like many vineyards took its first tentative steps into winemaking as an amateur sideline. Its first commercial release was in 2007, and now the transition from farming to viticulture is complete with more than 100,000 vines across its estate. Chasselas grapes are more at home in Switzerland: Ashdown is the only vineyard where they are grown in the UK.

Buy now from Bluebell Vineyard (case of 6, RRP £60)


Trevibban Mill Merope

This is a smooth, well balanced, slightly peachy wine that would suit those who enjoy Pinot Grigio or Chablis. It would pair well with whitebait or calamari, white chocolate or lemon desserts.

Merope is a Cornish girl’s name and is also the name given to the dramatic rock formation just off of Constantine Bay on the North coast. It uses the Reichensteiner grape – a Germanic variety that can be fussy about its terroir and rainfall levels, and so isn't yet commonly grown in the UK. the other variety, Seyval, is primarily used in the UK for making sparkling wine, and brings the citrus acidity. Merope won a silver medal in 2021 at the International Wine Challenge. TJ

  • Grapes: Reichensteiner, Seyval Blanc and Orion.
  • Region: Cornwall
  • Vineyard: Trevibban Mill is situated in Cornwall and prides itself on sustainable farm practices.

Buy now at Trevibban Mill (RRP £19.45)


Denbies Surrey Gold

Bottle of Denbies Surrey Gold lying on its side

This fruity medium-dry white wine is a blend of three white wine grape varieties grown at the sandy limestone vineyards of Denbies Estate in Dorkey, Surrey – Müller-Thurgau, Ortega and Bacchus, by winemakers John Worontschak and Matthieu Elzinga. It’s advertised as an aperitif and a perfect match for spicy food, but truth be told, I enjoyed it most without food, sipping it outside on warm spring evenings. MS

  • Grapes: Müller-Thurgau, Ortega and Bacchus
  • Region: Surrey
  • Vineyard: Denbies wine estate is one of the oldest and most prestigious wineries in the UK. It was founded in 1984 has consistently wins international awards for its sparkling wines.

Buy now at Denbies (RRP £11.95)


Balfour Skye’s Chardonnay

This fresh-tasting citrussy white wine is produced at the Hush Heath Estate in Kent with Burgundy clones from two of the estate’s vineyards – Middle Strackney and Old Eight Acre. There are notes of both lemon and lime, plus hints of apple blossom. It’s recommended as an accompaniment to salads with lots of herbs, and seafood such as oysters and crayfish. MS

  • Grapes: Müller-Thurgau, Ortega and Bacchus
  • Region: Surrey
  • Vineyard: Balfour's now-200 acres of vines were first planted in Hush Heath Estate in 2002 and have gone on to produce world-class sparkling and still wines. In 2007, Balfour's Brut 2004 Rosé became the first English wine to win a gold medal and the trophy at the International Wine Challenge.

Buy now from Balfour Hush Heath Estate (RRP £25)


Flint Vineyard Bacchus 2021

A zesty white wine that is dry but also has a richness that works well as an accompaniment with foods that are prepared with gentle spices or foraged herbs such as wild garlic. A perfect wine for a warm summer’s al fresco evening to drink with a simple supper or just served with locally sourced cheeses and pickles. Delicious! HC

  • Grapes: Bacchus
  • Region: Norfolk
  • Vineyard: Flint vineyard was founded by Ben Witchell and his wife Hannah in 2015. Witchell gave up a job in IT to study winemaking, spending time working in wineries in Sussex and France to learn the craft. It's his passion and experience that drives the wines at Flint – and makes it an exciting new English producer, and definitely one to watch.

Buy now from Flint vineyard (RRP £18.49)


Kingscote Estate Silvan Bacchus (organic)

Kingscote Estate first made its name with this Bacchus in 2013, which leans towards a softer, more rounded experience than most Bacchus wines. Kingscote achieves this by, unusually, oaking the white wine for three months to give it a toasty flavour. I enjoyed it with blue cheese and crackers. TJ

  • Grapes: Bacchus
  • Region: Sussex
  • Vineyard: The bucolic Kingscote Estate, which encompasses a 70-acre vineyard, winding river, fishing lake and rolling hills, was once Mill Place Farm, owned by horticulturalist William Robinson. It went organic in 2019.

Buy now from Kingscote (RRP £21)

Maud Heath Chardonnay 2018

A pleasant crowd-pleaser, this Chardonnay stays true to its Chablis origins in body, with the clean taste that's characteristic of English wine. Flavours of apricot and a subtle hint of almond underpin this excellent vintage. TJ

  • Grapes: Chardonnay
  • Region: Wiltshire
  • Vineyard: Maud Heath vineyard is nestled in its own little microclimate on the bucolic hillside that overlooks Maud Heath's causeway near Tytherton village, Wiltshire.

Buy now from Fareham Wine Cellar (RRP £18.95)


Little Wold Barley Hill

Everybody in my group of tasters loved this. It's dry enough to satisfy the NZ Sauvignon Blanc fans, but with enough fruitiness – soft peach and apricot – to appeal to those in the middle of sweet and dry. We enjoyed it with cheese and crackers, but it's versatile enough to pair with seafood, poultry and picnic food. A must-have for the summer. TJ

  • Grapes:
  • Region: Yorkshire
  • Vineyard: Little Wold is situated in the south-eastern corner of the beautiful Yorkshire Wolds. A family farm since 1947, the Wilsons began planting their first vines in 2012 and have now produced 70,500 bottles of English wine to date. A lovely spot for a visit if you're in the area.

Buy now from Little Wold (RRP £15)


What does English white wine taste like?

Vineyard and wine estate, Dorking, Surrey, England
Vineyard and wine estate, Dorking, Surrey, England./Credit: Getty Images

English white wines tend to be at the lighter end of white wine due to our cooler climate – there's no over-ripening, with a healthy variety of flavour profiles within that. In general, English white wine is fresh and medium dry, with a few drier exceptions. The two rising stars of the scene are Bacchus and Chardonnay, both with characteristics unique to our growing conditions:

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Bacchus

The bigger buzz on the English white wine scene is about the Bacchus grape. Named for the Roman god of wine, it was bred in the 1930s and has primarily been used in Germany where Riesling grapes don't ripen fully. Grown in the German terroir and climate, its low acidity means it's more often mixed into other blends to bulk out the flavour. However, in England, our cooler conditions mean the grapes can reach a higher acidity, albeit with a lower yield than in warmer countries, which is how we get the dry, gooseberry and kiwi flavours akin to a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Chardonnay

Poor Chardonnay. It was once a respectable wine, before Bridget Jones, Alanis Morrisette and Footballers' Wives came along. US wine producers of the 1990s didn't help either, with the trend for highly oaked, overripe Chardonnays that were high in alcohol. For a long time, Burgundy was the only part of the world that had the knowledge and experience to know how to produce quality Chardonnay wine, so much so that it is the only varietal (ie grape used to make a single variety of wine) that they're allowed to grow in its northern wine region, Chablis.

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But Chardonnay's reputation is set to change. We've been planting more and more vines in the UK, as it's one of the three traditional grapes used in sparkling wine – and now makes up a third of plantings. In our cooler climate, this highly versatile grape produces wine with a medium to light body and takes on flavours of apple, quince and pear, instead of the heavy, marigold-coloured Chardonnays we've been used to. Expect a leaner, more subtle palate, with fresh acidity.

More related content:

Flint vineyard, Norfolk/Credit: Flint vineyard
Tour guide giving a talk in front of rows of vines at Flint Vineyard in Norfolk

Authors

Oz Clarke is a wine expert, broadcaster and wine writer. His passion for wine started while he was a student at Oxford University, where he won tasting competitions. The updated edition of his book English Wine is out now (Pavilion Books, £20).

Tanya Jackson in red checked shirt and rucksack standing by a wall with a big smile
Tanya Jacksonacting group digital editor

Tanya Jackson is the acting group digital editor of countryfile.com and discoverwildlife.com. She loves campfire cooking, swimming in the sea, trail running, rural folklore, barn owls and red kites, hiking with the kids and looking for signs of ancient settlements in the Wiltshire hills where she lives. Tanya also has a passion for English food and drink, and loves uncovering the stories of the land as told through local produce.

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