The 12 best English sparkling wines reviewed
Drinks expert Henry Jeffreys brings you his favourite bottles of the best English sparkling wine, a growing genre of drink that can be enjoyed like champagne, prosecco or cava.
Gosh, there are a lot of English sparkling wines out there. More brands than you can shake a stick at. To try to narrow the field down a bit for this taste test, I’ve only included wines made in the champagne style ie. from French grapes like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier (and a little pinot blanc), and bottle-fermented.
We are now starting to see cheaper English sparkling wines made from Germanic grapes like Bacchus and with bubbles created in a tank as with Prosecco but I'll save them for another time.
Of the champagne-style wines, £20 seems to be about the minimum price that it’s worth buying English. Growing grapes in this damp cold country is not easy despite warmer summers, bottle fermentation is complicated and remember you need to keep the wines for around 18 months before they can be sold. You’re not going to get rich quickly making sparkling wine.
The sweet spot seemed to be around £30, though I have included some cheaper and some seriously fancy bottle that gives grand cru champagnes a run for their money.
Overall quality is high. There’s much less of the tooth enamel-stripping acidity of old. Don’t get me wrong, these are still bracing wines, but with most the fruit was beautifully ripe. I was particularly impressed with the rosé wines; these get their colour from extended skin contact with red grapes. Whereas many rosé champagnes aren’t particularly distinctive, some of the English ones were fantastic with lots of pinot noir character despite the fashionable pale colours. These are really versatile food wines.
The established names all performed well with companies like Chapel Down and Gusbourne making delicious wines at all price levels. There were also some exciting new names like Roebuck Estate and Everflyht that I was particularly impressed with. In fact, I liked so many wines that I have chosen more than ten. The future is looking bright for English sparkling wine. Read on to discover my pick of the best English sparkling wine.
Best English sparkling wine at a glance
- Best blanc de blancs: Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2018, £58.95
- Best organic sparkling wine: Davenport Limney Estate 2014, £27
- Best own-label brut: Definition Brut NV, £27.99
- Best budget rosé English sparkling wine: Balfour 1503 rosé, £24.99
- Best non-vintage: Redfold Vineyard Ambriel Classic Cuvée NV, £33
- Best with strawberries: Bolney Cuvée Rosé 2018, £35.95
- Best blanc de noir: Ridgeview Blanc de Noir 2015, £38.36
- Best premium wine: Langham Pinot Meunier 2018, £47
- Best for an aperitif: Westwell Pelegrim NV, £29.99
- Best with fish: Roebuck Classic Cuvée 2016, £38
- Best rosé wine: Everflyht Rosé de Saignée 2019, £40
- Best with smoked salmon: Henners Brut NV, £37
Best English sparkling wine to buy 2022
Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2018
- Available from The Whisky Exchange (£58.95)
Best blanc de blancs
Blanc de blancs means this is only made from Chardonnay. This version from Gusbourne is always a great favourite of mine and it’s particularly good in 2018. On the palate you’ll find fresh green apple notes with apricot, pastry, orange peel and yeast extract.
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The Whisky Exchange (£58.95)
Davenport Limney Estate 2014
- Available from Corkk, £27
Best organic sparkling wine
It’s not easy growing organic grapes in England’s damp climate, but Davenport manages it with style. The fruit is superb with notes of lemon peel and crunchy green apples. I imagine this would be incredible with shellfish.
Definition Brut NV
- Available from Majestic, £27.99
Best own-label brut
It’s worth buying six bottles and then this comes down dramatically in price (to £17.99 per bottle) making it one of the best bargains on the high street. This is a delicious classic brut fizz made by one the country’s most prolific producers, Hambledon.
Balfour 1503 Rosé
- Available from Majestic (£24.99 per bottle)
Best budget rosé English sparkling wine
Made at the Hush Heath estate in Kent, which makes a lot of supermarket wines as well as some more expensive things. This shows what good value English sparkling wines can be and with its jolly cherry-red fruit, it’s impossible to resist.
Majestic (£24.99 per bottle)
Redfold Vineyard Ambriel Classic Cuvée NV
- Available from Corkk, £33
A producer based in the South Downs in West Sussex. This wine smells of caramelised apple with a touch of yeast extract, take a sip and there’s firm lemony acidity with beautiful delicate little bubbles and a yeasty finish.
Bolney Cuvée Rosé 2018
Best with strawberries
Don’t be fooled by the pale colour, this is meaty wine. With its dark cherry flavours it tastes almost like a red wine. For the money, I’d rather drink this over most pink champagnes.
Ridgeview Blanc de Noir 2015
- Available from Wine Direct, £38.36
Best blanc de noir
Ridgeview are one of the pioneers of sparkling wine in England and up there with the very best, especially with their more premium wines. This is made entirely from black grapes (Pinot Noir and Meunier) and it’s rich with dark cherries, spices and tobacco. You could drink this with meaty dishes.
Wine Direct (£38.36)
Langham Pinot Meunier 2018
- Available from Langham, £47
Best premium wine
Pinot Meunier is very rarely seen on its own but tasting this extraordinary wine from Dorset, you will wonder why. Initially it tastes like cooked apple and cherry, but after a while it explodes in all sorts of directions with baking spices, toffee and subtle woody notes. It’s an extraordinary wine and definitely worth the price tag.
Westwell Pelegrim NV
- Available from The English Vine, £29.99
Best for an aperitif
I tried this blind recently and thought it was one of the richer Grand Marque champagnes like Roederer. There’s a savoury meaty nose showing lots of maturity, then on the palate there’s brown apples, orange peel and rich yeasty notes. The label is absolutely gorgeous, too.
The English Vine (£29.99)
Roebuck Classic Cuvée 2016
- Available from Roebuck Estates, £38
Best with fish
A new producer that really impressed me last time, Roebuck just seems to go from strength to strength. This is leaner and fresher than the previous vintage with lots of citrus and a floral quality. This would be lovely with a nice bit of sea bream roasted with lemons and olive oil.
Roebuck Estates (£38)
Everflyht Rosé de Saignée 2019
- Available from Grape Britannia, £40
Best rosé wine
The name might be unusual but new brand Everflyt is doing some remarkable things. If you think rosés can be a bit boring then think again. This is bursting with raspberries with cranberries with oaky flavours and even a little tannin. It’s a little bit wild and all the better for it.
Grape Britannia (£40)
Henners Brut NV
Best with smoked salmon
Always one of my favourite producers and not just because of the name. It’s in a rich hedonistic style that will appeal to lovers of richer champagnes. Think cooked apples, crème brûlée and a long toasty finish. Great value for the quality, too.
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This review was last updated in October 2022. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at email@example.com.
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