New World Wine Awards: The top 50 wines for under $25 revealed

Selection of the Top 50 wines against vineyard background
New World has done the hard work for us. Photo credit: File / Supplied

If you're anything like me, your formative experience with wine was scouring the aisle for the cheapest bottle. Now, as a much more mature 26-year-old, I still want the affordable price-tag, but also a decent drop that doesn't taste like watered-down grape juice.

Thankfully, New World has done the hard work for us: each year, a panel of judges sniff, swirl, sip and yes, spit, their way through a selection of vinos to determine the best of the best. A major category of the New World Wine Awards is the Top 50 drops under $25, with the winning wines officially announced this week.

If the $25 price cap is still more than you're willing to spend (we are, after all, in a cost of living crisis), plenty of the winners fall under $20 and there's even a few in the $15-and-under bracket, so there's a wine for every wallet.

Over 1200 entries were whittled down to the final 50, meaning only the very best vino made the cut, co-chair of judges Sam Kim said.

"Our independent panel of wine experts tasted and scored the entries over three full days, first awarding the Gold medal winners, then tasting through these wines again and again to determine the 50 best for this list," Kim went on.  

"All the judging was blind, meaning we didn't know the brand or price-point of any entry, so consumers can trust that every winning wine really measures up."  

While the Top 50 for 2023 includes familiar favourites from around Aotearoa and the world, there are also new additions to explore. One is the Caythorpe Family Estate Chardonnay 2021, which Kim highlighted as a standout: the chardonnay not only secured Caythorpe their first Top 50 spot, but it also scored its first New World Wine Awards Gold medal, the Champion Chardonnay trophy, and the 'White Wine of the Show' title.  

The Caythorpe Family Estate is situated in Marlborough, the country's largest winegrowing region that's renowned for its winemaking industry. This year, five of the six winning Sauvignon Blancs hail from Marlborough, as well as a dozen other wines across the Top 50's chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Rosé classes.  

"The family has been farming in Marlborough for generations but has only been operating their own wine brand for the past eight years. With a very small team running the wine business, one of whom also looks after the family's cherry orchards when he's not among the vines, this is truly toast-worthy win," Kim said.  

"It's a great opportunity for the brand to reach new customers, as well as a wonderful example to show how Marlborough's breadth and depth extends well beyond its much-loved Sauvignon Blanc."  

Other Marlborough-made winners include wines from Black Cottage, Esk Valley, Geisen and Ara, The Coterie's Massey Dacta, Misty Cove, Mount Riley, SOHO Family Vineyards, Stoneleigh, te Pā and Montford Estate, Triplebank and Vavasour.  

It was the neighbouring Nelson region which took the Champion Sauvignon Blanc title this year with the familiar favourite Anchorage Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2023. The local Seifried Estate also landed two wines in the Top 50, including a Rosé under their Old Coad Road label.

Elsewhere in the South, the sunny hills of Waipara produced three winners, including the Champion Aromatic for the Mud House Single Vineyard Riesling 2022, while Central Otago's own Madam Sass re-entered the Top 50 for their 2022 Pinot Noir.

From the North Island, Hawke's Bay stole the show with six wines in the Top 50, including three trophies, alongside sole Wairarapa-winner Luna Estate with their 2021 Pinot Noir.  

Gisborne-grown Verde Brut took the Champion Bubbles prize, alongside New Zealand's most awarded bubbles, Lindauer, which features two sparkling wines in the Top 50.   

From further afield, the Top 50 also boasts international flavours from Argentina, Australia, France and Italy, including great-value wines like the Trapiche Pure Black Malbec 2021, Chaffey Bros La Resistance GSM 2021, Freixenet Prosecco DOC, and Les Jamelles Clair de Rosé 2022.  

All Top 50 winning wines are available in stores now.  

The judges also tasted a wide range of non-alcoholic entries and have recommended a selection of alternatives that are available online or in select stores, housed under special 'Zero Zones'.  

The Top 50 under $25 list

  • Anchorage Nelson Sauvignon Blanc 2023 - Champion Sauvignon Blanc
  • Ara Single Estate Chardonnay 2022 
  • Beresford Classic Chardonnay 2022 
  • Black Cottage Marlborough Pinot Gris 2023 
  • Brancott Estate East Coast Pinot Gris 2023 - Champion Pinot Gris
  • Caythorpe Family Estate Marlborough Chardonnay 2021 - Champion Chardonnay & Champion White Wine of the Show 
  • Chaffey Bros La Resistance GSM 2021 
  • Esk Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2023 
  • Freixenet Prosecco DOC 
  • Giesen Uncharted Sauvignon Blanc 2022 
  • Grant Burge Miamba Shiraz 2021 
  • Headline Acts Rosé 2022 
  • Les Jamelles Clair de Rosé 2022 
  • Lindauer Special Reserve Brut Cuvée 
  • Lindauer Special Reserve Rosé 
  • Luna Estate Pinot Noir 2021 
  • Madam Sass Pinot Noir 2022 
  • Maison Blanc de Blanc  
  • Massey Dacta Sauvignon Blanc 2023 
  • Mission Estate Hawke's Bay 2022 Reserve Chardonnay 
  • Misty Cove Estate Pinot Gris 2023 
  • Misty Cove Estate Pinot Noir 2021 
  • Montford Estate Pinot Noir 2021 
  • Montford Estate Sauvignon Blanc 2023 
  • Mount Riley Marlborough Pinot Gris 2023 
  • Mrs Q Coonawarra Cabernet Sauvignon 2020 
  • Mud House Single Vineyard Riesling 2022 - Champion Aromatic
  • Old Coach Road Nelson Rosé 2023 
  • Press & Bloom Prosecco 
  • Rosabel Rosé 2021 
  • Seifried Nelson Gewürztraminer 2023 
  • SOHO Ziggy Pinot Gris 2023 
  • Squawking Magpie The Chatterer Syrah 2021 - Champion Shiraz & Syrah
  • Stables Hawke's Bay 2021 Reserve Syrah 
  • Stoneleigh Latitude Marlborough Chardonnay 2022 
  • Stoneleigh Wild Valley Marlborough Pinot Noir 2021 - Champion Pinor Noir & Champion Red Wine of the Show
  • Taylors Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 
  • te Pā Pinot Noir Rosé 2023 
  • The Crater Rim Waipara Riesling 2018 
  • The Fox and the Grapes Organic Shiraz Merlot 2022 
  • The Hunting Lodge Expressions Chardonnay 2022 
  • Thornbury Hawkes Bay Rosé 2023 - Champion Rosé 
  • Thorn-Clarke Sandpiper Shiraz 2019 
  • Trapiche Pure Black Malbec 2021 - Champion Single Variety Red
  • Triplebank Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2023 
  • Vavasour Awatere Valley Pinot Noir 2021 
  • Verde Brut - Champion Bubbles
  • Villa Maria Cellar Selection Hawkes Bay Merlot Cabernet Sauvignon 2021 - Champion Red Blend
  • Waipara Hills Waipara Valley Pinot Gris 2023 
  • Yalumba Y Series Merlot 2021.