5 top whites under $25

What was I drinking here? It was a dark and stormy night, so it was a red wine rather than one of my top white drops on this week’s blog, but I remember it being great value for money, which is what today’s post is all about.

It’s easy to wax lyrical about top wines when price is no object because that opens the  floodgates to the likes of Elisabeta Foradori and her incredibly inspirational Teroldegos, Nosiolas and wild yeast fermented Pinot Grigio, and if that’s not enough to make any hot blooded wine lover drop to their knees in admiration, her single vineyard wines are even more expressive; her wines are like the wine world’s equivalent of cutting edge fashion from World, Prada, Commes de Garcons and their like, but what about when budget is an issue? What are the best wines under $25?

Then what?

How do you sort the best from the rest at low prices?

It’s always been a mission of mine because when I began wine writing, my budget was at the lower end of the market, as was my junior journalist’s salary. Not that I can afford to buy  Foradori every day of the week now either, but these days I treat my wine buying like my clothes buying – by mixing things up. A little bit of high priced, very nice over in that corner and lots of budget buy basics over in that one.

So, without further ado, here are 5 top whites under $25, which always over deliver on their good taste and rarely cost as much as their supposed recommended retail prices.

Don’t you love a bargain?

Here are 5 of mine.

Top selling Riesling in New Zealand

2016 Giesen Riesling $15.99, 10.5% ABV

For a wine that can stake its claim as New Zealand’s biggest selling Riesling, this one is  remarkable consistently high quality, thanks to winemakers Nikolai St George and Andrew Blake, who source grapes from both Marlborough and North Canterbury to create a wine that is medium sweet and incredibly well balanced by high acidity from these two cool climate grape regions. Its light body, low-ish alcohol and intense flavour all add up to a succulent, deliciously approachable wine that can also age and evolve complex flavours for 4 to 5 years. What more could you ask for in a wine that is usually $12.99?

  • The latest MAT Giesen Riesling 750ml is the #1 value & unit ranked Riesling as shown by IRI NZ MarketEdge Scan Data, TKA period ending MAT to 6 Nov 2016.



Exceptional Main Divide Riesling

2014 Main Divide Riesling $21 to $22

If all natural health food tasted as good as this, we’d be a happier planet; “wine is a natural health food”, says the founder of Main Divide wine brand, Ivan Donaldson, whose four sons and partner in life and in wine, Chris, run the winery today. Main Divide is their gateway brand to the winery’s top drops under the Pegasus Bay banner. And while Main Divide may be the little bro’ to the winery’s top drops, it struts more interesting flavours that you would usually expect for this price. It’s full bodied, full of flavour and has layers of concentration from ripe mandarins and bold peachy tastes to layers of lime, lemon, luscious honey, a long finish.

Main Divide Riesling is an exceptional wine every year with consistent depth of deliciousness in every sip.


New icon Zephyr

2017 Zephyr Marlborough Riesling $24 to $25, 11.5% ABV

The Glover family were among the first to plant grapes in Marlborough in 1985 when they established a vineyard on the banks of the winding Opawa River, home to the grapes that make this delicious dry Riesling today. The Zephyr brand is co-owned by brothers Ben (winemaker) and Jack, who take their inspiration from the dry wines of the Rheingau in Germany, where Riesling tends to be dry, often full bodied and often with moderate to lower alcohol levels. Every vintage of Zephyr Riesling has remained true to style with between 8 to 10 grams of residual sugar, moderate alcohol, dialled up lime flavours and freshness to burn. The concentration is achieved by hand tending the vines, hand harvesting the grapes and taking a hands-off approach to the winemaking.

This wine is exceptional value for money, drinks beautifully now and will also age exceptionally well for a decade, possibly longer.


Beautiful Bone Line

2014 The Bone Line Riesling $23

One of my favourite wines of the past year and sadly a wine that is not made every year, thanks to the iconic approach of The Bone Line winemaking team. Winery co-owner Vic Tutton explains: Riesling is a response to the climate and the weather and there hasn’t been a vintage quite like 2014 since 2014. So, this medium dry Riesling from North Canterbury has impeccable flavour richness – limes, mandarins, green apples – in a light and super refreshing style with flavours that linger long after the last drop has disappeared. A stunner.


2016 Johner Gladstone Riesling $19-$20

For a wine that often costs $17, Johner Riesling from Gladstone in the central Wairarapa is another great white that over delivers on flavour every time, thanks to its succulence and high but balanced acidity, which adds nervy flavour interest to the intense citrus aromas here; orange and lime zest seem to combine with fresh white flowers and clover honey. It is off dry with 11 grams of residual sugar but it has such outrageously good balance of flavour that it seems to finish on a dry note, thanks to Riesling’s naturally, refreshingly high acidity,

Love these wines.

If you’re not – or think you’re not – a Riesling fan, try them.

Author: Joelle Thomson

I am a wine writer, author and educator... first bitten by a big buttery Chardonnay on a dark and stormy night in the 1980s and there was no turning back... Follow my tastings and join some too on this new site.

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