Favourite whites 2021

generic white wine in two glasses

A much shorter version of this collection is published by the Financial Times.

Wine prices may be rising but so is wine quality. There is still a host of great buys. I sincerely believe in all the wines below, whatever their price. Many retailers offer discounts on the single-bottle prices below. For those with larger households I have recommended a couple of truly superior wines offered in bag-in-box packages that are the convenient equivalent of three bottles. Wines are listed in increasing price per cl.

A A Badenhorst, The Curator 2020 Coastal Region 13%
Adi Badenhorst reliably delivers value even at full price. This drink-me blend of 51% Chenin Blanc, 22% Chardonnay, 22% Viognier plus a little Sémillon and Colombard is satin-smooth and is designed for drinking not keeping.

£6.74 (reduced from £8.99 in December) Waitrose

Domaine Huber Single Estate Grüner Veltliner 2020 Traisental 12.5%
Very agreeable, if not exactly intense, introduction to Austria's medium-bodied, refreshing signature grape. Great price – because the wine region is not that well known?
£7.78 (reduced from £10.79 for December) Waitrose

Villiera Sauvignon Blanc 2021 Stellenbosch 13%
South Africa is a great source of value, especially for well-made whites like this one. From low-yielding vines, including some old bush vines, this wine is appetisingly dry and has real grip and character. For drinking with or without food – though whoosh it around a bit to aerate it.

£8 Marks & Spencer

De Grendel Sauvignon Blanc 2021 Cape Town 13.5%
You can almost feel the wind off the ocean in this subtle dry wine with top notes of green fruits and vegetation. Great value at the promotional price.
£8.99 (reduced from £11.99 in December) Waitrose

Vergelegen Sauvignon Blanc 2020 Stellenbosch 13.5%
Another Cape answer to Marlborough that’s agreeably dry and full of flavour. This blend is made up of fruit from selected plots, all treated very differently, some oaked and some not. Grassy aromas. Drink now.
£10 Tesco

Corte Mainente, Vigna Cengelle 2020 Soave 12.5%
From a producer keen to build sales in the UK, hence the extremely friendly price. Brilliant evidence of the revolution in quality among the most ambitious producers of Soave with real fruit and tang. Italy produces a host of fascinating white wines.
£10.95 Stone Vine & Sun

Blütenreich Riesling 2020 Niederösterreich 12.5%
Organic methods in the vineyard. Very fine and very Austrian with rather more spice and body than the average German Riesling. Well balanced with pure lime fruit, and just the right amount of acidity to make it already approachable. Great value. 
£10.99 M J Wine Cellars

Ciù Ciù, Oris 2020 Falerio 13%
Certified organic from the Marche on Italy’s east coast. Edge of green apples but quite enough ripe fruit and interest. Excellent balance and drive.
£11.90 The Sourcing Table

Quinta da Pedra Alta, Encostas da Pedra Alta 2019 Douro 12.5%
Part barrel-fermented, indigenous-yeast Douro blend from a property owned by Ed Woodward of Manchester United with Matt Gant of First Drop in Barossa Valley one of the winemakers. Really good wine whatever the package. Chock-full of tangy character and still very vibrant and youthful at two years old. Really tense and glorious.
£38.50 per 2.25-litre bag in box (equivalent to £12.83 a bottle) BIB Wine Co

TR Wines Dry Furmint 2020 Upper Hungary 13%
From a single plot in the village of Tallya near Tokaj. Light nose of baked apples and excellent structure. Recognisably Furmint with a bit of apple-skin chewiness. Really interesting and competently made and packaged.

£39 per 2.25-litre bag in box (equivalent to £13 a bottle) BIB Wine Co

Ch La Liquière, Les Amandiers 2020 Faugères 13%
From a vineyard planted on some of this admired Languedoc producer’s highest land about 40 years ago; a blend of Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Viognier, Bourboulenc and Marsanne. Good, characterful schist nose. Full of luscious fruit already – and just the tiniest suggestion of spritz to keep it lively with the lightest of bitter hints on the end. I wouldn't age this but it should give enormous pleasure over the next year. Impressively persistent for the money.
£13.50 Stone Vine & Sun

Pazo da Maga 2020 Ribeira Sacra 13%
Smartly packaged brilliant value from the steep slopes of the Sil Valley in north-west Spain, where viticulture is described as ‘heroic’. Made from the great Godello grape variety whose finer wines have white burgundy structure but more extract.
£14.95 Lea & Sandeman

Autòcton Xarel-lo 2019 Spain 12.5%
The Catalan Xarel-lo grape can make sophisticated dry whites such as this from old, certified-organic vines and an old winery south of Barcelona on the boundary of Penedès and Tarragona.
£15.50 Lea & Sandeman

Sybille Kuntz Riesling trocken 2020 Mosel 12%
Truly beautiful dry Riesling from a steep, biodynamically tended vineyard.
Intense but not heavy. Great to drink with spicy food or without.
£15.99 to £23.99 De Burgh, Vino Vero, Highbury Vintners, Uncharted, Noble Fine Liquor, Tivoli Wines

Papagiannopoulos, Kyrenia 2020 Patras 12%
A wine from the northern Peleponnese specially created from Roditis grapes by Panagiotis Papagiannopoulos for UK importers Indigo Wine.
Light nose of dried leaves but excellent grip on the palate. Great frankness and flavour without much alcohol.
£16 The Sourcing Table

A A Badenhorst, Secateurs Riviera 2020 Swartland 13%
A (very pale) orange wine made from 75% Chenin Blanc and 25% Grenache Blanc with grape skins left in the fermentation vat for a while. This lightly pungent wine with masses of fruit but good, interesting grip too would be a great introduction to skin-contact white.

£16.90 The Sourcing Table

Quinta da Silveira Branco 2017 Douro 12.5%
Dry whites from the port valley in northern Portugal are some of the most interesting wines in the world. This one is a blend of four local grape varieties and is usefully mature. There’s no hint of heat but a lovely waxy texture and pungent green-fruit notes keep it all fresh. A lightly blossomy note on the end. Great stuff!

£16.95 Davy’s Wine Merchants

Inama, Vigneti di Foscarino 2018 Soave 13%
Old Garganega vines on a well-sited hillside plus ageing in old oak equals evidence that Soave can be every bit as good as a fine white burgundy. This 2018 lasts forever on the palate. A steal at the reduced price and no hurry to drink it.

£16.99 (reduced from £19.99 in December) Waitrose

Terrazas de los Andes Chardonnay 2018 Mendoza 14%
Sourced from a range of vineyards up to 1,620 m in the Andes. Eight months in new French oak which must have been pretty high quality to judge from the notes of liquorice and struck match that comprise a good stab at the white burgundy idiom, even if it
s taken to its limit. Impressively persistent. Great natural freshness, obviously ripe fruit but the smokiness very successfully distracts from this. Some will object to the oak but I think its very well integrated.
£16.99 Majestic (just £11.99 if any six bottles are bought)

Planeta, Eruzione 1614 Carricante 2018 Sicilia 12.5%
Carricante vines are planted at 800 m on volcanic soils. Nutty lime flavours and light chewiness. Amazing texture. Actually, this is an amazing wine in every way. It has so much extract that you cant believe its only 12.5% alcohol. Fresh and grippy – but maybe a geeks wine? I love it! It’s so persistent and it’s a pretty good price considering the age and quality.
£18.50 The Wine Society

Ch Grand Village 2019 Bordeaux Blanc 13.5%
Super-precise dry white from the owners of Ch Lafleur in Pomerol that’s almost more like white burgundy than white bordeaux.
£18.67 Justerini & Brooks

Ch Suduiraut, Le Blanc Sec de Suduiraut 2020 Bordeaux 13%
It’s so difficult to sell sweet white bordeaux that many producers of it, including this one, are increasingly making dry wines. This seems the most successful one I have so far come across. Really Sauvignon-stinky on the nose. Then rich and broad on the palate, presumably thanks to the majority of Sémillon grapes in the blend. Creamy texture and lovely perfume. Just off dry and really admirably long. This would make a great wine for the table. In fact I could imagine drinking it with various meat dishes – pasta with ragu?
£19.50 Cambridge Wine Merchants, also Bottles Wine Bar and Merchants

Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon, Les Maranches 2018 Mâcon-Uchizy 13%
This is the southern outpost of Dominique Lafon of Meursault and produces reliably good-value white burgundy. This is much racier – less plump – than most white Mâcons. Very satisfactory and at just the right point in its evolution.
£22.48 Lay & Wheeler

Jean-Marc Brocard, Vau de Vey Premier Cru 2019 Chablis 13.5%
The wet-stony, super-fluid aroma of Chablis comes soaring out the bottle as soon as the cork is pulled. Steely, minerally nose. Brocard is the most consistent producer of Chablis in my experience. More concentrated than most Chablis (because of the ripeness of the vintage?) so probably not as worth ageing as some Brocard Chablis from other vintages, but delicious now. There is sufficient extract for this wine to be served at the table.
£22.50 The Wine Society

Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2021 Marlborough 13.3%
This is hardly a special find but is a world-famous wine, yet this latest vintage does seem to be especially successful to me. Aromatically quite mineral and very agreeably dry and chalky on the finish. The residual sugar is entirely hidden by the acidity; theres not a trace of apparent sweetness. Very forward and approachable now. Fresher than many a Sancerre 2020. Its no bargain but its reliably good and not too difficult to find.
£23 to £27 Amathus, Frazier’s, Fareham Wine Cellar, Hedonism, Cambridge Wine Merchants, Majestic Wine, Laithwaites and others

Domaine Mann, Riesling Altengarten 2018 Alsace 13.5%
This biodynamically grown wine was my favourite in a recent tasting of this online retailer’s current range. For once the nose really is a bouquet – a bouquet of wild flowers, smokiness and racy, glorious maturing Riesling with pungent fruit and a bone-dry finish. Great value.
£25 The Sourcing Table

Rall White 2020 Coastal Region 13%
Donovan Rall is a superstar of the South African new wave. None of his wines is cheap but his super-tense, eminently ageworthy red and white blends are arguably his best-value wines. This vintage blend is 65% Chenin Blanc, 30% Verdelho and 5% Viognier. Edginess, length and some true Swartland Chenin character is here. Long, exciting and really quite thrilling. It should develop beautifully.
£25.68 Justerini & Brooks

Finca Allende Blanco 2016 Rioja 13.5%
My favourite white rioja by a mile. Made from a blend of 95% 55-year-old Viura from bush vines and 5% Malvasia. Really appealing beeswax, broad measured oakiness with green leafiness and an edge of citrus peel. Full, broad, with an (attractive) hint of polish. The sort of wine that is not made anywhere else. A serious dry white that can stand up to a wide range of foods. I could imagine it with turkey and Christmas dinner.
£26.95 Berry Bros & Rudd, £26.99 Bancroft Wines

Keller, Von Der Fels Riesling trocken 2018 Rheinhessen 12.5%
Klaus Peter Keller’s more famous bone-dry Rieslings now cost three-digit sums per bottle but this is so nearly of the same quality. Thrilling.
£28.50 Streatham Wine House

Tillingham Rosé 2020 East Sussex 11.5% 
To judge from the label, I’d take this for a Catalan natural wine. And to judge from the cloudy orangey-pink and fruity verve in the glass, I’d never in a million years guess this was an English wine. This is clearly made from fully ripe fruit and has excellent balance. A breakthrough English wine? Though not underpriced.
£32.90 The Sourcing Table

Grosset, Polish Hill Riesling 2020 Clare Valley 12.8%
Australia’s most famous and most sophisticated dry Riesling – a modern classic. A bottle of the 2001 opened recently was as fresh as daisy – a true vindication of the screwcaps advocated by Jeffrey Grosset so long ago.
£34.99 to £41 Rannoch Scott, Oz Wines, Vinoteca, Butler’s Wine Cellar, NY Wines, Bottle Apostle

Dom Jean Monnier 2019 Puligny-Montrachet
Classic savoury white burgundy with notes of lemon, lime and oak-induced structure that’s usefully accessible already.

£39 Laithwaites

Bodega Chacra, Mainqué Chardonnay 2019 Patagonia 12%
I wondered why this southern Argentine Chardonnay was so good, and then remembered that it is made under the guiding hand of cult winemaker (and actor) Jean-Marc Roulot of Meursault, no less. It shows. And Roulot’s basic Bourgogne would cost far more.
£39.50 Lea & Sandeman

Kershaw, Clonal Selection Chardonnay 2017 Elgin 13.5%
Okay, this is the same price as many a fine white burgundy – but so it should be. Such precision from a British Master of Wine who is now spinning gold from one of South Africa’s coolest corners.
£41.99 Handford Wines

David & Nadia, Hoë-Steen Chenin Blanc 2020 Swartland 13%
Gloriously pure South African answer to Puligny-Montrachet from old vines certified in that country’s estimable Old Vine Project.
£51.67 Justerini & Brooks

Dom Bruno Colin, Les Chaumées Premier Cru 2015 Chassagne-Montrachet 13%
Creamy, with almost a hint of a white Pessac-Léognan. Crisp and chiselled but with masses of fruit intensity on the mid palate. Fun! And much easier to find than white burgundy from even more famous names.
£69 Four Walls Wine Company, Old Bridge Wine Shop and other independents

International stockists at Wine-Searcher.com.