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Best sauvignon blanc 2023: The most delicious wines to try from the most iconic grape around

From the fruit-filled French versions to the tropical southern hemisphere sauvignons, there’s a bottle to suit every palate and purse

Sauvignon blanc is probably the UK’s favourite white wine, and for good reason – this delightful, citrusy white is crisp, dry and eminently drinkable, whether paired with a range of foods or simply enjoyed on its own. Sauvignon blanc is a forgiving grape that grows well across different climates and conditions, so the chances of picking up a good bottle are already pretty good, but we have a few top picks to show you what this popular grape can really do.

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Best sauvignon blanc: At a glance

How to choose the best sauvignon blanc for you

What is sauvignon blanc?

Sauvignon blanc is an internationally famous grape that grows well in many cool, moderate regions around the world – too warm and the grapes ripen too quickly – and is known for its gooseberry and citrus characteristics, as well as a few other distinct styles and flavour profiles. Sauvignon blanc originated in France and still grows in large volumes there (it’s the nation’s third most prevalent grape), though New Zealand is not far behind, thanks to the last few decades’ increasing love for the Kiwi style of winemaking.

Sauvignon blanc is usually a still, dry, white wine praised for its high acidity, but there are variations – sparkling sauvignons occasionally appear from New Zealand and the UK, and sauvignon blanc appears as a dessert wine when made into Sauternes with the semillon grape. Many Bordeaux blancs are pure sauvignon too, along with all sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé – the latter two are both fine wines, tremendous and deliciously distinct versions we have excluded from this list as they deserve their own category.

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What should I look for?

Sauvignon blanc grapes grow prolifically, and while there are many shared characteristics of the grape present in the resulting wine – the gooseberry flavour, citrus and greenness – the terroir, climate and winemaking process mean that styles of sauvignon blanc can vary hugely.

There are several main styles you can look out for, though. The French style (or “cool climate” style) is light and refined with a herbaceousness to it, containing orchard and vegetal flavours, plus good minerality along with the usual gooseberry. Fine French sauvignons can exhibit interesting notes of smoke, chalk and more. And they’re also more likely to be oaked, which tends not to happen with sauvignon blancs from the rest of the world.

New Zealand style sauvignons are a completely different kettle of fish, with the gooseberry appearing together with an explosion of tropical fruits – often passion fruit and guava – and an extremely aromatic, fruity, grassy nose.

South Africa also produces a significant amount of sauvignon blanc, which is similar to the Kiwi style, but with more citrus and less tropical fruit, and a healthy dose of asparagus and/or green pepper, though these do vary wildly according to the terroir.

Other sauvignon blanc producing areas include Australia, Chile, California and a few cooler European countries. And while they all embrace the same high acidity and green gooseberry character, they can be excitingly different to discover – apples, asparagus, grapefruit, pineapple and flint are common notes, and very enjoyable too.

How do I drink it?

Sauvignon blanc is a versatile wine that suits white meat, cheese and seafood especially well, particularly the French varieties. Tropical-style sauvignons are also fantastic with salads and surprisingly good with sushi. Serve well chilled, and enjoy young. As it’s such a crowd-pleasing wine, an inexpensive bottle of New World sauvignon blanc usually goes down well at parties too, with or without food.

How much should I spend?

Sauvignon blanc – outside of the really special French vintages – is often a great-value wine and, with its success around the world, you need not spend a fortune to enjoy something truly delicious. A bottle of New Zealand’s gold standard sauvignon blanc, Cloudy Bay, can be had for under £30, and there are many other examples of New Zealand sauvignon that are just as good – but perhaps less recognisable – for half that price. There are also lots of supermarket bargains to be had, and we’ve tried a few out for you here.

How we test sauvignon blanc

Any wine tests we conduct at Expert Reviews are done the traditional way – by tasting them. We assess every sauvignon blanc’s aroma and flavour profile, before sorting into specific groups (such as price range and country) to be compared. We also pass our shortlisted wines around to a group of taste testers, ensuring our own personal preferences don’t dominate the list – not everyone likes a vegetal sauvignon blanc, for instance.

We arrive at our final list by taking our taste tests into consideration alongside value for money and sustainability. We’re confident that however you like your crisp white wines, there is something utterly delicious for you here.

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The best sauvignon blanc you can buy in 2023

1. Black Pig Sauvignon Blanc 2021: The best everyday sauvignon blanc

Price: £13 | Buy now from Virgin Wines

Australia may be best known for its chardonnay, but it turns out it can give the Kiwis a run for their money when it comes to sauvignon blanc – at least at the South Australian Black Pig winery anyway. Named for the small herd of black pigs that roam happily around the vines, the Black Pig range of wines is reliably tasty, affordable and interesting (do try its pinot grigio, too).

This sauvignon is crisp, with lots of limey citrus and mouth-watering passion fruit acidity, which lingers on the palate pleasantly. It’s less explosively tropical than the usual New World style, and a bit riper and rounder too – which many of our testers really enjoyed – but any fan of big fruity whites should find this a hit. Great with roasted meats, barbecues and summery dishes, this wine is best enjoyed with food and friends.

Key details – ABV: 12%; Bottle size: 75cl; Vegan: Yes

Buy now from Virgin Wines

2. Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2021: The best classic sauvignon blanc

Price: £26 | Buy now from Virgin Wines

Cloudy Bay has long been seen as the first and last word in New Zealand sauvignon blancs. This sought-after wine hails from Marlborough, where brisk South Pacific breezes coupled with long sun-drenched days make ideal conditions for the sauvignon grapes, which can mature slowly without becoming overripe, retaining all their delicious crispness. The fruit for Cloudy Bay is harvested during the cooler nights and mornings to retain that all-important green freshness that the wine is so well known for.

This wine is brimming with tart gooseberries and layer upon layer of zingy citrus, tempered with a hint of green pepper. And this, along with the super long finish and delicious acidity, makes it a very accomplished wine that is always a pleasure to sip and savour – though at upwards of £25 it tends to be a rather occasional pleasure.

Key details – ABV: 13.5%; Bottle size: 75cl; Vegan: No

Buy now from Virgin Wines

3. Laylo Lot #2 Sauvignon Blanc: The best boxed sauvignon blanc

Price: £35 | Buy now from Laylo

In a departure from the plethora of New World-style sauvignons, this delicious tipple hails from the Loire, so it’s sauvignon blanc made in the famed French style, and it comes in a box because bottles just aren’t sustainable or necessary for most wines these days. We loved the pretty toile design that marks this bag-in-box wine out as a world away from the unrecyclable, dodgy supermarket boxes of old. Handily, this wine stays fresh for six weeks, so you can dip in and have a glass or two without committing to a whole bottle.

A classy wine, this is more restrained than the big, shouty, tropical styles of New Zealand and the like, but no less fruity for it, bursting with flavours of green apple, fuzzy white peach and the signature gooseberry. A touch of herbaceous flavour comes through, while the orchard fruit builds and builds against the bone dry, elegant background. We paired this with soft cheese as suggested and it was incredible. Good luck sticking to just a couple of glasses.

Key details – ABV: 11.5%; Box size: 225cl; Vegan: No, but vegetarian

Buy now from Laylo

4. Lieu Dit Sauvignon Blanc 2019: The best unusual sauvignon blanc

Price: £20 | Buy now from Wanderlust Wine

California is normally known for its full-bodied chardonnays and big, juicy reds, so this sauvignon blanc hailing from Santa Barbara is quite a departure. The Lieu Dit winemakers are huge fans of Loire wines, and believe the soil and climate of the Santa Ynez Valley is perfect for making similar wines in the US. And it looks like they may be right – if you closed your eyes, you’d never know this wine was Californian. Their low intervention methods are designed to allow the terroir to shine through and, indeed, cool climate aromas of grass, gooseberry, green pepper, green melon and herbs abound, with the palate giving more of the same with taut citrus and fresh cut apple.

It’s super refreshing, light, bright and with glorious light green rings around the glass if you look closely. It could easily be a sancerre. A brilliant find from Wanderlust Wine once again.

Key details – ABV: 13%; Bottle size: 75cl; Vegan: Yes

Buy now from Wanderlust Wine

5. Montecappone La Breccia 2020 Sauvignon Blanc: The best party sauvignon blanc

Price: £20 | Buy now from Independent Wine

Much of Italy is too warm for sauvignon to be at its best, but the winemaking team at Montecappone are masters of their trade and have combatted this with a clever cryo-maceration process for this tropical-tasting La Breccia (which translates as “pebble”, named after the vineyard’s stony soils) sauvignon blanc from the Marche region. The grapes are picked and immediately pressed, before being laid on dry ice and cooled to 10°C; they’re left on the skins for six hours, still at 10°C, and the air is flushed out to prevent oxidation. All of this allows the crisp, fresh, natural aromas of the sauvignon grapes to be retained.

And it does the trick: this wine is vibrant with tropical fruit salad notes that are much in the New Zealand style of sauvignons. We loved the guava flavours, lemons, limes and touch of lemongrass that make it delicious paired with Asian flavours, spices and seafood. It’s balanced enough to please most palates, and would work well as a party wine, thanks to its refreshing acidity and bracing tropical profile.

Key details – ABV: 13%; Bottle size: 75cl; Vegan: Not stated

Buy now from Independent Wine

6. Tesco Finest Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2021: The best-value sauvignon blanc

Price: £8.50 | Buy now from Tesco

Supermarket sauvignons are ten a penny, and it can be quite an undertaking to sort the wheat from the chaff, but this bottle from Tesco made in partnership with New Zealand producer Indevin has really impressed us. Using grapes from Marlborough – just like Cloudy Bay – where the perfect climate allows for the best fruit expression, this is an amazingly good- value bottle of sauvignon blanc if you’re a fan of the traditional Kiwi style wine.

With bags of well-concentrated flavours of gooseberry, passion fruit, sticky pineapple and kiwi, this wine enjoys a grapefruit-like tartness, and a welcome herbal note of asparagus stops things getting too one-dimensional. It’s mouth-wateringly juicy and sharp, and crying out for Thai food.

Key details – ABV: 12.5%; Bottle size: 75cl; Vegan: Not stated

Buy now from Tesco

7. Rustenberg Sauvignon Blanc Western Cape: The best South African sauvignon blanc

Price: £12 | Buy now from Majestic

Critics can be sniffy about South African sauvignon – the climate isn’t ideal for keeping the grapes at their best – but the Western Cape fares better than many of South Africa’s other wine regions when it comes to keeping the fruit from ripening too quickly, so retaining the elegant freshness that makes sauvignon so popular. This Rustenberg sauvignon blanc proves that it can be done, thanks to the care and knowledge of Murray Barlow, a young Stellenbosch winemaker who has twice won the country’s biggest wine award.

This wine is award-winning, too – bagging an International Wine Challenge award for the 2021 vintage – with exemplary crispness holding together cool melon, classic green gooseberry and sweet pineapple flavours all in one. We enjoyed its classy grass notes, which stopped it tipping over into full New Zealand territory. A great bottle for an even better price.

Key details – ABV: 13.5%; Bottle size: 75cl; Vegan: No

Buy now from Majestic

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