Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most widely planted varieties in the world, but actually originates from the Bordeaux region of France. The French word ‘sauvage’ means ‘wild’, so think ‘wild white’ and there you have it. As with all grape varieties, the myriad of wine styles produced from them, depends on where in the world the grapes were grown, and the type of soils they were grown on. Add to this the variances in yield, harvest time and how the wine was made, and you can appreciate just how many versions of Sauvignon Blanc there are out there.
Given that, there is usually a common thread to recognise. The primary fruit flavours are lime, green apple, gooseberries, nettles, grass, passion fruit and peach (if you are a cat owner, you can throw in ‘cat’s pee to the list also). The combination and dominance of these aromas and flavours depends very much on climate with cool being preferable to hot, for best expression.
The most successful locale for Sauvignon is the region of Marlborough in New Zealand, and over the last 20-25 years it’s become almost synonymous with this variety. It does indeed thrive here on the dry gravels, producing bold and extravagantly fruity wines Collectables Sauvignon and Walnut Block Sauvignon
Some of France’s best value Sauvignon Blanc comes from the Loire’s Touraine appellation (Touraine Sauvignon Blanc – Château Gaillard) and further along the Loire the famous wines of Sancerre can produce wines of outstanding quality, with greater emphasis on depth of fruit and minerality (Sancerre Dauny and Sancerre Le Tournebride Vincent Gaudry) . Pouilly Fumé, Metetou Salon and Sauvignon de St Bris are other popular French Sauvignon hot spots, and we’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for any good organic examples coming through in the future.
Another big success story for the variety has been Chile, particularly those places that benefit from cooling ocean breezes like Casablanca (Emiliana – Adobe Sauvignon and Nuevo Mundo Sauvignon Blanc).
Back in Bordeaux Sauvignon is often blended with other varieties such as Sémillon and Muscadelle to produce dry white Bordeaux wines (Vintage Roots Organic Blanc and Château Couronneau Blanc) and in the Côtes de Gascogne with Colombard, Ugni Blanc and Gros Manseng to make the very drinkable (Domaine de Pajot). Right at the other end of the dryness scale in Sauternes it combines with Sémillon in larger proportions to make some of the worlds most sought after sweet wines (Château Dudon).
There are many other areas of the world growing Sauvignon Blanc successfully, either on its own or in blends. Most is fermented at relatively low temperatures in stainless steel, to preserve the vibrant energy of the fruit, which is so enjoyable when drunk young. Occasionally, some oak ageing or fermentation in barrel does take place, with the more concentrated examples. This can successfully add complexity and ageing potential (Walnut Block Sauvignon Blanc).
Popular food matches for Sauvignon Blanc include Goats cheese, white meats and numerous types of seafood including sushi.