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Top white wines of 2021 (for under $25)

Discover the top 24 white wines of 2021 from the New World Wine Awards. Best Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris & more. Affordable and delicious - just in time for summer.

We’re truly spoiled for choice in New Zealand with the incredible range of white wines we have on offer. From light and aromatic, to crisp and zingy, or the rich, creamy and robust. 

Our guide to the best New Zealand white wines has something for everyone. Better still, they are all gold medal-winners and under $25 per bottle.

5 best New Zealand aromatic wines


Villa Maria Reserve Hawkes Bay Albariño 2021

Variety: Aromatics

Region: Hawkes Bay

Style: Dry White Wine

Price: $15 to $20

Key flavours: Alpine flowers, apricot, citrus, floral, lemon zest

Special features: Sustainable

Judges’ comments: Originating from the Galicia province in the north-east of Spain, Albariño grape has a fun attitude about it. It's crisp and lively with a nicely weighted body. This impressive rendition shows white flesh peach, jasmine and citrus peel notes with a brisk, crisp mouthfeel, making it ideal with grilled fish and salt & pepper squid.

Food pairing: In the coastal province of Galicia in the north-west of Spain where this grape is famous, they drink Albariño with seafood. Grilled fish, seared scallops, steamed mussels, clam pasta, fish taco and salt & pepper squid are all good friends with this refreshingly mouth-watering white wine.


Coopers Creek Marlborough Riesling 2018

Variety: Aromatics

Region: Marlborough

Style: Off Dry White Wine

Price: Under $15

Key flavours: Apple, citrus, lemon blossom, lemon zest, lime, orange blossom

Special features: Sustainable

Judges’ comments: A noble grape of Germany, Riesling is often naturally lower in alcohol (11.5% for this one) and lighter in body, perfectly suited to antipasto and light salads. Fragrant notes of lemons and limes with subtle orange peel and honeysuckle, it's beautifully framed by whispering sweetness with a vibrant finish, making it mouth-watering and super tasty.

Food pairing: The fresh and elegant style makes Riesling a great aperitif with its crisp vibrancy. Also it’s brilliant with light seafoods and green salads. Medium to medium-sweet styles, especially with bottle age, can handle salads with grilled peaches or baked figs. Believe it or not, roast pork with apple sauce is a stunning match to sweeter style Rieslings. 


Lawson's Dry Hills Gewürztraminer 2019

Variety: Aromatics

Region: Marlborough

Style: Off Dry White Wine

Price: $15 to $20

Key flavours: Apricot, floral, guava, rose, spices, tropical fruit, toast, 

Special features: Sustainable, vegan-friendly

Judges’ comments: This Riesling is dry with beautiful grapefruit marmalade flavours and is both focused and youthful with juicy lemony acidity and texture. The flavours seem endless, which is why it’s this year’s Champion. Riesling is not only a great value wine, it’s also one of the most food-friendly wines complimenting Indian, Asian, Spanish, North African and South American dishes. With seafood, think ceviche, Kokoda or sashimi.

Food pairing: Perfumed and generously styled, Gewürz is gorgeous with lightly spicy dishes such as Thai beef salad, Vietnamese lemongrass chicken, ginger chicken, biryani and paella. Tropical fruit salad is also a good match, and it can handle richer cheeses such as creamy blue, feta and grilled halloumi.


Lone Goat Canterbury Ehrenfelser 2015

Variety: Aromatics

Region: Canterbury

Style: Off Dry White Wine

Price: $15 to $20

Key flavours: Apricot, citrus, floral, orange blossom, peach

Special features: Sustainable

Judges’ comments: Although it’s dry, this is a gorgeous accompaniment to citrus based dishes, stewed apple and apricot, as well as leafy aromatic herbs like basil and tarragon. Like Chardonnay on steroids, a sort of wine for all seasons. Ripe peach, ginger and spicy floral notes with a hint of vanilla. The palate is creamy and generous, long lasting with balanced fruit flavour and acid.

Food pairing: A unique grape from Germany, Ehrenfelser has charming stone fruit and citrus flavours with a delightful tangy finish. It's similar to Riesling in taste but with more richness and body. Excellent with baked chicken with mild spices, pork chops with golden peach, and the classic match is caramelised onion tart. 


The Crater Rim Waipara Riesling 2016

Variety: Aromatics

Region: Canterbury

Style: Off Dry White Wine

Price: $15 to $20

Key flavours: Alpine flowers, apple, apricot, citrus, guava, orange blossom, peach

Special features: Sustainable, vegan-friendly

Judges’ comments: Although it’s dry, this is a gorgeous accompaniment to citrus based dishes, stewed apple and apricot, as well as leafy aromatic herbs like basil and tarragon. Like Chardonnay on steroids, a sort of wine for all seasons. Ripe peach, ginger and spicy floral notes with a hint of vanilla. The palate is creamy and generous, long lasting with balanced fruit flavour and acid.

Food pairing: The fresh and elegant style makes Riesling a great aperitif with its crisp vibrancy. Also it’s brilliant with light seafoods and green salads. Medium to medium-sweet styles, especially with bottle age, can handle salads with grilled peaches or baked figs. Believe it or not, roast pork with apple sauce is a stunning match to sweeter style Rieslings. 

Related articles:

Read our Riesling Wine Guide

Read our Aromatic Wines Guide

6 best New Zealand Chardonnay

Pair our top Chardonnays with these food pairings:

Chardonnay comes in many shapes and sizes. With a lighter style, try fresh seafoods and soft brie or camembert cheese – it’s also fabulous with crunchy salads, such as Caesar or Waldorf.

If you love the richer, more powerful Chardonnays, try roast salmon with soy glaze, seafood chowder, carbonara or roast chicken. Cashew butter curry and baked fish with creamy lemon sauce are also amazing with buttery Chardonnays.


te Pā Chardonnay 2020

Variety: Chardonnay

Region: Marlborough

Style: Dry White Wine

Price: $20 to $25

Key flavours: Apricot, biscuit, cedar wood, creamy, mineral, peach, savoury, stone fruit, toasty oak

Special features: Sustainable, vegan-friendly

Judges’ comments: Head Winemaker, Sam Bennett uses his extensive overseas winemaking experience, including in Burgundy, the spiritual home of Chardonnay, to craft a stylish yet rich and flavoursome offering in this magnificent 2020 rendition. Beautifully layered with refined texture, the wine displays ripe stone fruit, lemon pith, nougat and roasted hazelnut characters with a whiff of flinty complexity. Voted Champion White Wine of the Show - it's supremely classy, yet affordable.


Misty Cove Landmark Chardonnay 2020 

Variety: Chardonnay

Region: Marlborough

Style: Dry White Wine

Price: $20 to $25

Key flavours: Apricot, biscuit, brioche, creamy, custard, peach, stone fruit, toasty oak, vanillin oak

Special features: Sustainable, vegan-friendly

Judges’ comments: Misty Cove has rapidly established themselves as a force in the Marlborough winemaking scene, winning the hearts of wine lovers with their charismatic, tasty wines. This is brimming with ripe stone fruit, vanilla, cedar and brioche notes with excellent depth and persistency, capable of matching roast chicken, seafood risotto and hot-smoked salmon with crème fraiche.


Montford Estate Chardonnay 2020 

Variety: Chardonnay

Region: Marlborough

Style: Dry White Wine

Price: $15 to $20

Key flavours: Citrus, stone fruit, vanillin oak

Special features: Sustainable, vegan-friendly

Judges’ comments: Part of the te Pā whānau, Montford Estate wines are designed to be approachable and easy to enjoy, and this is just that. Whether you're watching an All Blacks test on a cold winter's night, or enjoying a beach picnic at the height of summer, this friendly Chardonnay with juicy nectarine and citrus flavours and its gentle oak infusion will be the perfect addition to any get-together.


Saint Clair Marlborough Origin Chardonnay 2019

Variety: Chardonnay

Region: Marlborough

Style: Dry White Wine

Price: Under $15

Key flavours: Apricot, biscuit, brioche, cedar wood, peach, stone fruit, vanillin oak

Special features: Sustainable

Judges’ comments: This middle-weight Chardonnay is about succulent fruit expression with a hint of oak influence. Gala apple, apricot, golden pastry and roasted cashew flavours with a creamy texture make it soothing and comforting. Versatile for sure, share it at a mid-week dinner, take it to a neighbourhood BBQ, or even enjoy at a family lunch, this is a pleasing yummy wine for any occasion.


Stoneleigh Rapaura Marlborough Chardonnay 2020 

Variety: Chardonnay

Region: Marlborough

Style: Dry White Wine

Price: $15 to $20

Key flavours: Brioche, cedar wood, citrus, mineral, peach, smoky, stone fruit, toasty oak

Special features: Sustainable, vegan-friendly

Judges’ comments: Rapaura Series are Stoneleigh's top-tier wines with sophistication and extra dimension, while offering terrific drinkability. Beautifully crafted with ripe stone fruit, citrus peel, cedary oak and a touch of flinty complexity, this is engaging and persistent. Go fancy, try it with a prawn/crayfish cocktail or slow-roasted meltingly fatty pork belly with super crunchy crackling.


Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Chardonnay 2020

Variety: Chardonnay

Region: Hawkes Bay

Style: Dry White Wine

Price: Under $15

Key flavours: Apricot, brioche, cedar wood, creamy, mineral, peach, spices, stone fruit, vanillin oak

Special features: Sustainable

Judges’ comments: Villa Maria's expert team of viticulturists and winemakers bring out the best in Hawke's Bay and of this noble grape. Stylish, textural and seductively appealing with nectarine, baked fig, vanillin oak and subtle spice notes combined with a fleshy texture, it's gracefully beautiful and delectable. Serious and tempting at the same time.

Related article:

Read our Chardonnay Wine Guide

6 best New Zealand Pinot Gris wines of 2021

Try 2021’s top Pinot Gris with these food pairings:

Pinot Gris is a gorgeous all-rounder when it comes to its ability to pair with such a variety of food styles. Excellent with picnic nibbles, spring rolls and dumplings, it’s also flavoursome enough to complement chicken soup, coconut-based curries and stir-fries.


Rapaura Springs Reserve Pinot Gris 2021

Variety: Pinot Gris

Region: Marlborough

Style: Off Dry White Wine

Price: Under $15

Key flavours: Apple, apricot, floral, guava, melon, orange blossom, ripe pear, rock melon, stone fruit

Special features: Sustainable, vegan-friendly

Judges’ comments: Isn't Pinot Gris such a charming and easy-going wine? Splendidly styled by the top-notch winemaker, Michael Bann, who seems to have a magic touch with aromatic grapes, this is fragrant with Nashi pear, mango, rich floral with a light touch of spice, followed by a beautifully layered palate that's flowing and lingering. Champion Pinot Gris, not surprising at all.


Saint Clair Vicar's Choice Pinot Gris 2019

Variety: Pinot Gris

Region: Marlborough

Style: Off Dry White Wine

Price: Under $15

Key flavours: Apricot, floral, orange blossom, peach, ripe pear, rock melon, stone fruit

Special features: Sustainable

Judges’ comments: Finding the right wine to serve at a party with a variety of nibbles can be tricky. Pinot Gris fits the bill, due to its mellow mouthfeel and gentle fruit intensity. With bottle age under its belt, this tasty Pinot Gris is a great all-rounder. Green pear, apricot and orange peel aromas lead the way to a juicy refreshing finish.


Stoneleigh Marlborough Pinot Gris 2021

Variety: Pinot Gris

Region: Marlborough

Style: Off Dry White Wine

Price: Under $15

Key flavours: Citrus, floral, guava, lemon blossom, orange blossom, peach, ripe pear, rock melon, spices, stone fruit, white blossom

Special features: Sustainable, vegan-friendly

Judges’ comments: Wairau River flowed over what are now Stoneleigh's vineyards for thousands of years, leaving rich deposits of stones of all shapes and sizes. With a strong focus on sustainability and biodiversity, Stoneleigh wines are about fruit purity and vibrant expression. It's filled with poached pear, pineapple and rich floral notes with a lengthy silky finish.


Summerhouse Pinot Gris 2021

Variety: Pinot Gris

Region: Marlborough

Style: Off Dry White Wine

Price: Under $15

Key flavours: Apricot, citrus

Special features: Sustainable, vegan-friendly

Judges’ comments: Grapes are grown in the Blind River district, which is one of the driest areas in Marlborough, leading to concentrated and intense grape flavours. Classic summer peach and pear flavours with a juicy mouthfeel, this is an ideal complement to Vietnamese fresh rolls and salads, as well as soft mild cheeses.


Villa Maria Private Bin East Coast Pinot Gris 2021

Variety: Pinot Gris

Region: Regional Blend

Style: Off Dry White Wine

Price: Under $15

Key flavours: Apricot, citrus, floral, peach, ripe pear, rock melon, stone fruit, white blossom

Special features: Sustainable

Judges’ comments: Combining sunny-sweet fruits from Gisborne and Hawke's Bay backed by vibrant South Island grapes, this is succulent and plump with ripe pear and apricot flavours with a spicy undertone, finishing rounded and supple. There's a hint of sweetness, which makes it versatile, ideal with an antipasto platter and party nibbles.


Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Pinot Gris 2021

Variety: Pinot Gris

Region: Canterbury

Style: Off Dry White Wine

Price: Under $15

Key flavours: Citrus, floral, guava, orange blossom, peach, ripe pear, rock melon, spices, stone fruit, tropical fruit

Special features: Sustainable

Judges’ comments: Pinot Gris is one of the signature grapes in the Waipara Valley in North Canterbury, capturing an abundance of sunshine from their north-facing vineyards, enriching the fruit intensity and textural mouthfeel. Gorgeous ripe pear and quince with light spice nuances, this is splendidly rounded and lingering, making it suitable for richer dishes such as coconut-based curries and spaghetti carbonara.

Related article:

Read our Pinot Gris Wine Guide

7 best New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs

Enjoy one of our best Sauvignon Blanc wines with these food pairings:

With its punchy and upfront flavours with zesty mouthfeel, Sauvignon loves seafood of all kinds, especially mussel fritters, sashimi, smoked salmon and barbeque prawns. The wine can also handle mild spicy food with ease, such as Thai yellow and green curries. The classic Caprese salad of tomato, basil and mozzarella is a must-try with a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.


Yealands Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc

Region: Marlborough

Style: Dry White Wine

Price: Under $15

Key flavours: Apricot, citrus, cut grass, fresh herbs, gooseberry, guava, kiwi fruit, lemon blossom, lemon zest, lime, passionfruit, tropical fruit

Special features: Sustainable, vegan-friendly

Judges’ comments: Yealand Wine's Seaview Vineyard, hugging the rugged coastline of the Awatere Valley looking out over the Cook Strait, produces some of the most intensely expressed Sauvignon Blancs in the region. This Champion winner is stacked with passionfruit, feijoa, kaffir lime and sweet basil notes. A great gift, or serve it at a dinner party with pan-fried fish and fresh asparagus.


Brancott Estate Reserve Awatere - Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc

Region: Marlborough

Style: Dry White Wine

Price: Under $15

Key flavours: Apple, citrus, cut grass, fresh herbs, gooseberry, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, lemon zest, nettle, passionfruit

Special features: Sustainable

Judges’ comments: Marlborough's first commercial planting began in 1973 at the famous Brancott Estate, now their wines are globally famous and enjoyed by millions. Brilliantly styled with red capsicum, crunchy apple, exotic lychee and lemon peel aromas, combined with a lively palate offering terrific fruit purity. A perfect partner to steamed mussels with tomato and basil.


Montana Winemakers Series Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc

Region: Marlborough

Style: Dry White Wine

Price: Under $15

Key flavours: Citrus, fresh herbs, grapefruit, guava, kiwi fruit, lime, melon, passionfruit, peach, stone fruit

Special features: Sustainable

Judges’ comments: This is just the ticket for Sauvignon lovers, delivering all the familiar juicy flavours with a delightful citrusy tang. Upfront and punchy, the inviting bouquet shows kiwifruit, jalapeno, green rock melon and lime zest notes, combined with a powerfully expressed palate offering fabulous intensity. Imagine yourself at a beach, sand between your toes, eating your favourite seafood platter.


Seifried Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc

Region: Nelson

Style: Dry White Wine

Price: Under $15

Key flavours: Fresh herbs, gooseberry, guava, kiwi fruit, lemon blossom, lemon zest, nettle, passionfruit, rock melon, tropical fruit

Special features: Sustainable, vegan-friendly

Judges’ comments: Their story began in the early '70s when Austrian-born Hermann Seifried and his Kiwi wife Agnes hand-planted vines in sunny Nelson, now a powerhouse in the region successfully run alongside their three children. Showing lifted aromas of passionfruit, snow pea and apricot, this is mouth-filling and texturally satisfying with bright fruit intensity and lively mouthfeel.


Summerhouse Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc

Region: Marlborough

Style: Dry White Wine

Price: Under $15

Key flavours: Apple, citrus, cut grass, fresh herbs, grapefruit, lemon blossom, lemon zest, lime

Special features:

Judges’ comments: This fun-loving Sauvignon's tasty fruit flavours twinkletoe around your palate. Offering nectarine, grapefruit, green apple and citrus peel notes, combined with an intensely flavoured palate displaying terrific focus and length. This would be irresistibly good with freshly shucked oysters or seared scallops with creamy cauliflower purée. Bring on summer!


Two Rivers Convergence Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc

Region: Marlborough

Style: Dry White Wine

Price: $15 to $20

Key flavours: Citrus, fresh herbs, gooseberry, kiwi fruit, lemon blossom, lemon zest, lime, passionfruit, peach, stone fruit

Special features: Sustainable, vegan-friendly

Judges’ comments: This consistently outstanding label is brilliantly styled by the award-winning winemaker David Clouston, who combines grapes from both Wairau and Awatere Valleys to make Sauvignon in perfect harmony. Ripe gooseberry, nectarine and lime cordial notes with an exuberant finish will brilliantly match velvety goat's cheese on crunchy crostini.


Wairau River Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Variety: Sauvignon Blanc

Region: Marlborough

Style: Dry White Wine

Price: Under $15

Key flavours: Apricot, gooseberry, guava, lemon blossoming, lemon zest, lime, nettle, passionfruit, tropical fruit

Special features: Sustainable

Judges’ comments: One of the pioneering grape growers and winemakers in Marlborough, the Rose family have built their reputation by consistently delivering quality, reliability and value with their wide-ranging wine selection. This classic example offers tropical fruit intensity and just the right amount of elegant herbal infusion with a bright zesty edge. Just imagine it with thick, creamy seafood chowder.

Related article:

Read our Sauvignon Blanc Wine Guide

Explore New Zealand’s best white wines

Want to find more award-winning wines for under $25 a bottle? Take a look at our pick of the best New Zealand wines of 2021. Or, use our wine finder tool to search for a wine that takes your fancy.

Ready to try some award-winning New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc? All of our Gold medal-winners are available online now from your local New World. 

Related articles:

Guide to Aromatic Wines
Chardonnay Wine Guide
Sauvignon Blanc Wine Guide
Riesling Wine Guide
Pinot Gris Wine Guide
Best New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs
Best New Zealand red wines
5 of the best Pinot Noirs of 2021
Best New Zealand wines for under $20

Jim Harre - about the author

After studying viticulture and winemaking at Hawkes Bay’s Eastern Institute of Technology, Jim worked several vintages, both in New Zealand and Internationally as a winemaker. 

Identified as having a very good palate for quality assessment of wine, Jim has been a major part of New Zealand’s Wine Judging competitions for over 25 years. Now a well respected International

Judge, he works as a Chair of Judges in Wine Competitions in USA, Japan, China, Australia and, of course, New Zealand. 

He is also regarded as a world authority on the effect of how wine perception changes in aircraft, a panel chair at the world’s largest competition; the International Wine Challenge, held each year in London; as well as Wine Consultant to Air New Zealand.

It is Jim’s love of education and teaching people about wine that makes him one of New Zealand’s most recognised Wine professionals.