English Wine Vintages Ratings

Take the guesswork out of choosing between the best English wine vintages, with Marasby’s easy to understand vintage ratings.

If you want to learn more about English wine, the popular Marasby Intro to English Wine tasting takes you through six amazing wines that tell you everything you need to know. Tickets for various dates are on sale now via Design my Night.

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Best English Wine Vintages:

English and Welsh wine is local, sustainable and delicious, but we’re not going to lie to you – the quality of different English wine vintages can vary enormously.

While the UK is rightfully being lauded as the world’s most exciting cool-climate region, the emphasis has to be on the word ‘cool’. English and Welsh vineyards sit at the extremes of where grapes can reliably be ripened, and even though our summers are often warmer than they used to be, average temperatures during the growing season can still sit on a knife edge between ‘just right’ and ‘just too cold’.

So, what are the best English wine vintages to discover, taste, and buy? We’ve put together ratings for all years dating back to 2012, together with a few recommendations from highlighted years:

Vintage Ratings:

2023: 7.5(?)/10

At the time of writing (Oct 2023), many growers are still in the throws of harvest, so it is too early to say for sure how the vintage will turn out. What we know so far is that yields are tremendous. We helped with the pick at Oastbrook Estate in East Sussex and Westwell in Kent, and the vines were practically groaning under their weight of fruit! This was largely due to excellent weather in early summer, and a warm, dry autumn. However, cool and wet weather in July and August led to significant disease pressure, so it remains to be seen quite how good 2023 turns out to be. There will be a lot of wine available from 2023, the first of which are likely to be released in early spring next year. We’ll update our vintage score as more information becomes available.

2022: 8/10

This year will be remembered as one of the most extreme summers on record, with temperatures of over 40°C recorded in Lincolnshire in July. While older vines with deeply embedded roots happily rode out the heat, the drought conditions meant that berry sizes remained small. Rain and cool weather arrived in September, and while this helped boost the crop size, it also brought ripening to a near standstill. That’s why 2022 remains an excellent – but not the greatest – English wine vintage.

2021: 4/10 or 7/10

We’re giving 2021 a split rating, because the quality of wines from this year depends massively on the producer and style of wines being made. In general terms, the growing season was cool and wet – conditions which 10 years previously would have resulted in a widely mediocre vintage. However, producers like Lyme Bay, whose growers were brave enough to let their fruit hang late into October, were rewarded with good sugar levels and made excellent wines. Even so, with acidity levels remaining high, it is a better year for sparkling wines than still (though few have been released as of Oct 2023).

2020: 8.5/10

Looked at purely in terms of the warmth of the summer, and the quality of the resulting wines, 2020 is easily one of the best English wine vintages of all time. What puts it a little behind 2018 is that an unusually warm spring caused early bud burst, which was followed by a devasting frost in mid-May that dramatically reduced yields for many growers. So, if you’re looking to buy 2020 wines – fill your boots! Just don’t delay as there aren’t all that many around….

2019: 3/10

2019 was a very mixed growing season, with bursts of real warmth and sunshine interspersed with periods of cool weather and rain. English wine growers are pretty used to this pattern, and many might still have made excellent wines, except that September and October had rainfall far in excess of the long-term average, with one of the worst picking seasons on record. As always, there are notable exceptions, but in general terms… avoid.

2018: 9.5/10

There hasn’t yet been a perfect English vintage, but 2018 was about as close to one as we’ve had so far. The summer was warm and long. Disease pressure was low. Rain came at the right times. The result was a bumper harvest of top-quality grapes, and most wines from this year will be worth buying. Just bear in mind that 2018 was also the first year that many producers made still wines as well as sparkling, and as with anything, it can be hard to get things completely right the first time.

2017: 6/10

2017 was a very small vintage for most growers, due to early bud burst being followed by extremely severe and repeated frosts in April and May, wiping out primary buds and shoots. The weather improved in early summer and the vines recovered, but unsettled weather in July, August and September made for a challenging season. In the end, the quality of harvest was decent, and sparkling wines from this vintage can be very good. There are just not many of them about.

2016: 8/10

Stay as far east as possible, and 2016 looks like an excellent, albeit small vintage. Flowering was late and early summer conditions very mixed, which resulted in undeveloped vines and a small potential crop. A dry and warm period from August to October saved the vintage, leading to superb ripeness levels, but with very small berries. Well worth buying from this vintage… if you can find any wine.

2015: 6/10

All in all, a year when many growers struggled to achieve acceptable sugar and acid levels, with a cool spring and summer. The year was saved by an exceptionally warm October, which got most vineyards over the edge into ripeness. Sparkling wines are good, but can be austere – look for those with plenty of lees ageing.

2014: 8.5/10

Before the incredible 2018 vintage, this was many growers’ benchmark for a top English wine vintage. Very little frost, a good summer and a warm autumn led to excellent levels of ripeness. Still wines from 2014 were good – though little was being made in England at this time – so look out for the rich, well-balanced sparkling wines.

2013: 6.5/10

Spring in 2013 was cool and summer came late – flowering and indeed the entire vintage was pushed back as a result. While the summer was pretty good once it got going, harvest for many growers was one of the latest on record, with some picking halfway through November. Avoid still wines and go for the excellent, age-worthy sparkling wines, which at the time of writing (Oct 2023) are drinking beautifully.

2012: 2/10

There’s been no perfect vintage in England (see 2018), and neither has there been a total wash out – but 2012 got close. A wet, cold, windy spring was followed by a summer and autumn that were nearly as bad. Many growers didn’t even bother to pick. As always though, a few vineyards in particularly favoured locations manged to produce some half decent wines – so if you come across an English 2012, it’s worth trying for curiosity’s sake, if nothing else.

Oxney Organic Pinot Noir


Recommended English Wine from 2020

Oxney Organic Pinot Noir 2020

Kristin Syltevik, owner of Oxney Organic Estate, is one of English wine’s most passionate advocates for organic and sustainable farming – and in partnership with winemaker Salvatore Leone, also makes some of England’s most delicious still and sparkling wines.

Oxney’s 2020 Pinot Noir is exceptional – tasted blind, it could easily be mistaken for a red Burgundy, with complex aromas of dark cherries, cigarbox-spice, toasty oak, and just a smidgen of natural, organic, farmyard character.

As with all 2020s, there isn’t much of this about, so grab it while you still can….

Buy on Marasby Market, direct from the winemaker, at £32

Highligted Vintage

Recommended English Wine from 2018

Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2018

Gusbourne is ranked internationally as one of England’s greatest wine estates – and with wines like the 2018 Blanc de Blancs, it is easy to see why.

Having already picked up a gold medal at the 2022 WineGB Awards, the Blanc de Blancs ran off with the prize for Best in Show at the 2023 Decanter Wine Awards.

As with many 2018s, it is rich and sumptuously-textured, yet beautifully well-balanced with crisp, vibrant, citrus notes and a mineral-laden finish. As of October 2023, it is drinking beautifully, yet still a baby, with the potential to age and improve over many years.

Buy it on Marasby Market, direct from the winemaker, at £65

Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2018
Digby Vintage Reserve Brut 2013

Highlighted Vintage

Recommended English Wine from 2013

Digby Vintage Reserve Brut 2013

2013 was notable for its late harvest and the naturally brisk acidity of its base wines – a quality that ensures significant ageing potential.

This potential is realised brilliantly in Digby’s incredible 2013 Vintage Reserve Brut, which won four trophies at the 2023 WineGB Awards, including for Supreme Champion.

It is effortlessly rich and textured, complex and elegant – an English take on Pinot-dominated prestige Champagnes like Bollinger’s Grande Année (only much better value). Fabulous.

Buy on Marasby Market, direct from the winemaker, at £45