The best white wines: from Sauvignon Blanc to Riesling and beyond

The best white wines

Taste is pretty subjective, and that’s a wonderful thing, but if you’re not well-acquainted with wines and are looking for some recommendations, it can be downright frustrating to be told “just find one you like”. We get it, and that’s why we’ve made our shortlist of the best white wines out there right now, based on favourable reviews and universally-agreed scrumminess, to help you find your perfect pairing.

Unfortunately, there are no real shortcuts to magically guessing whether you’ll like a wine – gone are the days when a screw-top denotes a lower class of wine, and the dimple in the bottom and the weight of the bottle are equally unreliable indicators. We’ve listed the prevailing notes from each of our picks, so that if you like the sound, for example, of “warm pastry followed up by peaches” you know you’re onto a winner.

It might come as a surprise to see white Burgundies occupying our top two spots (it was pretty short-sighted to name a shade of deep red after something that also comes in white), but wine buffs repeatedly name this subset of French Chardonnays as among their favourites, so they’re a sure thing if you’re looking to impress at your next special occasion. Elsewhere, there’s Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and more to consider, so what are you waiting for? Chin-chin! 

The best white wine

1. Louis Jadot Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru Morgeot

A white burgundy striking the perfect balancing act between fruity, floral and full-on

Region: Burgundy | Vintage: 2014 | ABV: 13.5% | Closure type: Cork

Beautifully balanced

Compared by maverick wine educators Wine Folly to a particular type of highly addictive drug, there’s no doubt that White Burgundies are something a little bit special, and this peachy white is certainly no exception. Intensely floral, with sweet notes of vanilla and almond paste, and a base-layer hint of toast courtesy of some judicious oaking, it’s fulsome and structured enough to stand up to poultry and heavier seafood dishes, and ends on a moreish mineral note. 

Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru Les Demoiselles

2. Louis Latour Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru Les Demoiselles

This burgundy summons up sensations of the boulangerie as well as the cellar

Region: Burgundy | Vintage: 2013 | ABV: 13.5% | Closure type: Cork

Sweet, baked-goods notes

As you might expect, the Chevalier Montrachet Grand Cru Les Demoiselles shares some similarities with its appellation-mate, and our first pick, the Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru Morgeot. Courtesy of the limestone soils of the terroir said to produce the greatest dry white wine in the world, its tasting notes speak of a palate bursting with sweet gourmand notes of vanilla, buttery brioche and almond paste, differing from our first pick with a less mineralistic finish and more juicy yellow fruits in the middle.

Helderberg Cellars Sauvignon Blanc

3. Helderberg Cellars Sauvignon Blanc

With notes of elderflower and passionfruit, this is a thoroughly summery Sauvignon

Region: Stellenbosch | Vintage: 2016 | ABV: 13% | Closure type: Screw cap

Light, summery aromas

The temperate conditions and cooling sea breezes of South African wine-growing region Stellenbosch are ideal for creating fruit-forward Sauvignon Blancs like this Helderberg Cellars offering. If you’re partial to a New Zealand Sauvignon and are looking to expand your horizons, this is a great place to start, with fragrant tropical notes of passionfruit and refreshing herbaceous elderflower. Completely unoaked, it’s all about the high notes, making it a great one for balmy summer evenings. 

Grosset Springvale Riesling

4. Grosset Springvale Riesling

Eastern flavours and mineral notes come together in a cool, classy wine

Region: Clare Valley | Vintage: 2016 | ABV: 13% | Closure type: Screw cap

Really refreshing

If you’re after a refreshing wine to pair with fish dishes, but aren’t completely sold on the typically cheek-puckering tropical fruit flavours of many New World Sauvignon Blancs, why not try this Australian Riesling on for size as an alternative to our previous pick? Amply bright and dry, this Clare Valley wine’s lime and lemongrass heart makes it a sure bet for pairing with Thai, but its chalky nose, herbaceous lemon blossom notes and typical Riseling minerality make it something a little different. 

Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Riesling Auslese

5. Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Riesling Auslese

Looking for a white wine to go to with dessert? Try this Riesling on for size.

Region: Rheinhessen | Vintage: 2015 | ABV: 8% | Closure type: Screw cap

Great with sweet dishes

We love our Riesling, could you tell? This sweeter iteration of the grape is recommended for pairing with desserts, and makes the ideal alternative for those who don’t like sickly, syrupy dessert wines, and has drawn favourable comparisons from reviewers with after-dinner favourite Sauternes. Packed with the mineral character typical of Riesling, with a good dose of acidity from tropical fruit and sharp, juicy tangerine, it’s hard-edged enough to cut through very sweet dishes, but it’s all mediated by a floral honey heart. 

Rhône La Crau Blanc

6. Domaine du Vieux Télégraphe Rhône La Crau Blanc

A glorious floral showing from the world-renowned region

Region: Rhône | Vintage: 2009 | ABV: 14.5% | Closure type: Cork

Beautiful floral notes

We’ve all heard of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and this gorgeous La Crau Blanc is a delicious and (comparatively, for such an immensely cellarable name) accessible means of getting under the skin of the famous appellation. A classic Rhône blend with Grenache at the helm, it’s very much a case of florals to the fore, rather than fruit-driven. As a result, it’s balanced, fragrant, and beautifully fresh-tasting, an elegant alternative to citrusy sharp whites. 

Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay

7. Vasse Felix Filius Chardonnay

Like soft fruits and baked goods? You’re in luck with Felix Filius.

Region: Margaret River | Vintage: 2015 | ABV: 12.5% | Closure type: Screw cap

Great balance of acidity and sweetness

If the aggressively oaked Chardonnays of the '90s have left a bitter taste in your mouth to this day, take our word for it: it’s safe to come out now. Chardonnay producers, like the brains behind this bright young thing hailing from Margaret River, Australia, have since learned how to handle the grape, and tasters found this was a perfect balance between tight acidity, soft fruits like peaches and pear, and delectable buttery pastry notes.

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How about something for after dinner? Whip up a gimlet, rickey or simple, good old-fashioned G&T with one of our best gins.