In the past 30 years, English sparkling wine has gone from strength to strength. Every year, our winemakers gain more experience in navigating the mercurial British weather, learning to use the soil and environmental conditions to their advantage. And every year, English sparkling wine seems to get better as more vineyards open up, newly planted vines mature and new winemakers emerge from their cellars, full of creative promise and enthusiasm.

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We've tasted the major contenders for this year from both long-established vineyards to new wineries from across the UK. Here are the ones that impressed us the most.

Want to see what our other speciality wines taste like? Check out our tried-and-tested reviews of the best English white wines, best English red wines and, to learn more about what's happening on vineyards across the UK right now, see our beginner's guide to English wine.


Best English Sparkling wines 2022

Gusbourne Blancs de Blancs 2016

Bottle of Gusbourne sparkling wine

This is an exceptional sparkling wine with a complex but delicate flavour. Having spent 42 months on the lees, it has a fantastic structure and an aromatic, pastry-case crispness to match the clean, green flavours of the English Chardonnay grape. The mousse (bubble texture) is subtle and creamy – highly recommended. TJ

  • Grapes: Chardonnay
  • Region: Kent
  • Vineyard: Gusbourne's vines were first planted in 2004, at the very beginning of the English sparkling wine revolution. Its location near Appledore village in Kent means it enjoys the unique conditions of Wealden clay-loam soils and a warm and dry maritime climate. Not only is it usually the first vineyard to harvest in England, but its close proximity to the sea gives a distinctive salty tang to its wines.

Oz Clarke's picks for Christmas 2022

Three bottles of English sparkling wine chosen by Oz Clarke for Christmas 2022
Oz Clarke recommends Simpsons Chalklands Classic Cuvée NV, Exton Park RB32 Brut Reserve NV and Oxney Organic Classic Chardonnay 2018 for Christmas 2022.

The wine writer gives us his top three sparkling white wines for this season's celebrations:

Simpsons Chalklands Classic Cuvée NV

Simpsons Chalklands Classic Cuvee NV as recommended by Oz Clarke for BBC Countryfile magazine

This is bright, as tinglingly fresh as a Kent cox apple, but softened with savoury nuts and fresh toast.

  • Region: Kent
  • Grapes: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay
  • Vineyard: Simpsons is the winery established near Canterbury on those fields that were my playground as a child. Inclined to the warm south, catching all the summer sun, these are the billowing folds of the Kent Downs, and the deep chalk soil is exactly the same as that of Champagne, only a couple of hours’ journey over the Channel.

Buy now from Simpsons Estate (RRP £29)

Exton Park RB32 Brut Reserve NV

Exton Park RB32 Brut Reserve NV as recommended by Oz Clarke for BBC Countryfile magazine

Winemaker Corinne Seeley is French. But she’s proud to be making wine in England. “I’m not here to make a copy of Champagne. I am here to make a new category of wine”. She has done that alright. This wine zings with chalk freshness, softened by toast and nuts and the dry ripeness of a golden peach.

  • Region: Hampshire
  • Grapes: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay
  • Vineyard: Exton Park is on a high chalk ridge with blindingly white soils. The view of Old Winchester Hill is of heart-stopping beauty.

Buy now from Exton Park (RRP £39)

Oxney Organic Classic Chardonnay 2018, £38

Oxney Organic Classic Chardonnay 2018

Organic Chardonnay grapes grown in the sultry 2018 vintage created this scented, foaming beauty, all apple blossom and ripe apple flesh, just flecked with cream.

  • Region: East Sussex
  • Grapes: Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay
  • Vineyard: This bucolic estate, hidden away down a rutted country lane near the pretty town of Rye, is the perfect antidote for any city wine lover tired of urban life. Oxney has huts you can stay in, but just to visit will ease your soul.

Buy now from Oxney Estate (RRP £38)


Kingscote Estate BRUT NV (organic)

Bottle of Kingscote Brut sparkling wine

The perfect celebration drink for warm-weather gatherings, this sparkling wine from a family-owned organic vineyard has a delicate gooseberry fragrance with delightfully light bubbles. The taste starts off smooth and soft, then has a crisp and sharp, beautifully citrussy finish with a hint of apple. With Meunier and Chardonnay grapes, this is a gorgeous traditional method fizz that’s worth every penny. MB

  • Grapes: Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay
  • Region: West 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 Estate (RRP £25)


Balfour Blanc de Noirs

Bottle of Balfour Blanc de noirs sparkling wine

Grown on the Hush Heath Estate in the rolling hills of Kent, blending 76% Pinot Noir and 24% Pinot Meunier, Balfour Blanc de Noir is a lovely tipple. Dry, light, clean, with a faint hint of peach but no sweetness, it has a delicate but delicious flavour. According to Balfour, it hails from the ‘legendary’ 2018 vintage. Either way, it’s very drinkable. MH

  • Grapes: Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier
  • Region: Kent
  • 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 Estate Hush Heath (RRP £40)


Bolney Bubbly NV

Proof that non-vintage sparkling wines can compete with their more specialised cousins, Bolney Bubbly NV is an appley, biscuity wine that you'll want to keep drinking. Recommended with a cheeseboard, fresh figs and pickled walnuts. TJ

  • Grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Muller Thargau
  • Region: Sussex
  • Vineyard: Bolney Estate is one of England's oldest and most idyllic vineyards. The vines were planted in the early 1970s by the forward-thinking Linter family, of which third-generation winemaker Sam is now in charge. And she's doing an excellent job, with the winery swimming in awards for their sparkling and still wines.

Nyetimber Classic Cuvée

Light and elegant, this is prestigious winery Nyetimber's flagship bubbly. It has nutty and complex aromas of almond and apple pie, having aged on the lees for three years. If you're looking for a wedding fizz, this is a real crowd-pleaser and great for toasting! TJ

  • Grapes: Chardonnay
  • Region: West Sussex
  • Vineyard: English sparkling wine owes Nyetimber hugely. It was the winery that first brought English fizz international acclaim when it won Best Sparkling wine in the World at the International Wine and Spirits competition back in 1998, and the awards haven't slowed down since.

Roebuck Classic Cuvée

Bottle of Roebuck classic cuvee sparkling wine

A classic 2014 Cuvée (which, to you and me, means a wine made from more than one grape - namely Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) that hails from Roebuck Estates, a vineyard nestled in the South Downs National Park, in the heart of Sussex. A delightfully crisp, sophisticated sparkling wine with a pleasingly gentle fizz, combining both dry and sweet, orange-and-lemon notes. The perfect aperitif to your Sunday roast. SM

  • Grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier
  • Region: Sussex
  • Vineyard: Roebuck planted its first vines in 2006 on a vast slope near Petworth, looking down towards the South Downs. since then it has expanded its area to several other sites across the South-East, making the most of the flint, clay and sandy soils that make this area so perfect for winemaking.

Buy now from Roebuck (RRP £38)

Rows of lush green vines at Camel Valley vineyard in Cornwall

Terlingham Sparkling White 2019 (organic)

Bottle of Terlingham sparkling shite 2019

Don't be fooled by the no-frills name. This vintage, made with the classic Champagne grape trio, won silver at the IEWA awards in 2021. It's a soft sparkling wine, gently nutty, with flavours of apple blossom and a lemony finish. The mousse is fine and creamy – a real triumph. TJ

  • Grapes: Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay
  • Region: Kent
  • Vineyard: Terlingham vineyard is an organic, biodiverse vineyard that prides itself on its wildlife-rich plantation and ecological viticulture. In its lovely location on the Kent Downs, the owners work in harmony with the environment, using traditional low-intervention methods to produce award-winning wines.

Buy now at Terlingham (RRP from £28.50)


Rathfinny Classic Cuvée 2018

Bottle of Rathfinney Classic Cuvee sparkling wine

This Sussex sparkling wine is soft, easy, and rosy gold in hue, redolent of a late-summer’s day in South Downs where the producer – Rathfinny Wine Estate – is based. Made using the traditional method, the grapes (50% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay and 15% Pinot Meunier) are hand-harvested, whole-bunch pressed, then aged in the bottle for 30 months. Hints of lemon and ginger make it a good wine to drink with pasta dishes. DG

  • Grapes: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier
  • Region: West Sussex
  • Vineyard: Rathfinney was established in 2010 by husband and wife Mark and Sarah Driver. It produces low-intervention, traditional method sparkling wines where grapes are whole-pressed and bottle aged 'on the lees' (ie, still containing the yeast cells that give sparkling wine that complex brioche flavour).

Buy now from Rathfinny Wine Estate, East Sussex (RRP £30.50)

Hindleap Classic Cuvée 2015

Bottle of BLuebell Vineyard Hindleap sparkling wine

It’s not hard to see why this zesty offering from Bluebell Vineyard Estates in Sussex was a silver-medallist at the 2019 IWC awards. Light, and with strong notes of apple and lemon, the 2015 Classic Cuvée is a special-occasion wine worth celebrating. PM

  • Grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pino Meunier
  • Region: Sussex
  • 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 (RRP from £20)


Langham Blanc de Blancs 2018

Bottle of Langham blanc de blancs sparkling wine

This light, crisp sparkling wine comprises a wonderful balance of sweet lemon and apple pie, and is a worthy successor to its 2015 vintage. Delicious! TJ

  • Grapes: Chardonnay
  • Region: Dorset
  • Vineyard: Langham Wine Estate is situated on the vast estate of Bingham's Melcombe manor house on the outskirts of Dorchester. The vines were planted in 2009 at Crawthorne farm on shallow clay loam. The vineyard won Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year at the IWSC 2020, beating renowned French Champagne houses Maison Mumm and Veuve Clicquot.

Buy now at Langham's wine shop


Hencote Evolution Brut Sparkling Wine 2019

Bottle of Hencote sparkling wine

A smooth sparkling with lively effervescence, this is a delightfully light choice from this Shropshire vineyard, made with 60% pinot noir and 40% seyval blanc grapes. Fermentation in the bottle combined with a shortened maturation period really captures the flavour of the grapes, with notes of dried mango and lemon. With a lovely dry acidity and a citrussy finish, this is the perfect choice for summer celebrations.

  • Grapes: Pinot Noir and Seyval Blanc
  • Region: Shropshire
  • Vineyard: Hencote vineyard overlooks the beautiful Shropshire countryside and its ancient woodlands. The first 160 vines here were planted as a hobby operation in 2009, and matured to produce excellent yields. By 2015, the vineyard had expanded to 24,000 vines, and now encompasses a glamping site, wedding venue and restaurant.

Buy now from Hencote (RRP from £25)


Denbies Cubitt Blanc de Noirs 2014

Bottle of Denbies Cubitt sparkling wine

If you’re a fan of deep, rich and oaky chardonnay then this sparkling wine from one of Britain’s foremost vineyards will deliver for you in abundance. Bolder in flavour than many sparkling wines, this wine matches perfectly with both fish and chicken dishes and is even strong enough in character to pair with a spicy pasta arrabiata. Enjoy! RB

  • Grapes: Pinot Noir
  • 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.
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Buy now from Denbies (RRP £34.99)

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.

Maria Hodson is production editor at BBC Countryfile Magazine, alongside Margaret Bartlett. Since moving to Bristol in 2014, Maria has made every effort to escape into nature and loves all things wild and watery, from surfing and swimming to paddle-boarding and kayaking. Her adventure highlight in recent years was sea kayaking around remote St Kilda, off the coast north-west Scotland, in 2016. Most weekends, however, are spent exploring the great outdoors with her small child and doing accessible walks. Favourite family adventures are bird-watching at Slimbridge Wetland Centre and exploring the Forest of Dean, as well as an annual pilgrimage to see the starling murmuration on the Somerset Levels.

She now lives in Cardiff and takes every opportunity on the weekends to explore the Brecon Beacons National Park and South Glamorgan’s stunning coastline and wooded hillsides with her family, often encouraging her young son’s obsession with discovering woodland fungi.

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