Sauvignon Blanc Grape Guide
Many out there probably think that Sauvignon Blanc [So-Vin-YAWN-Blonk] has one basic style – light, dry, acidic and often grassy. But that perception runs only skin deep. Sauvignon Blanc is far more of a useful, and interesting, grape than much of the world gives it credit for. Not only can it express different styles and characteristics based on where it’s grown, but it is also one of the two components in the world’s most historically famous sweet wine – Sauternes.
Sauvignon Blanc is claimed to have originated in the western areas of France, particularly in Bordeaux and Loire Valley. Over the course of history, it became a high status grape varietal from its Loire vineyard sites in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. It has also had quite a substantial reputation in the renowned dry whites of Bordeaux.
Then moving down to the other side of the equator, Sauvignon Blanc has become a household name for putting New Zealand’s wine industry on the map. Particularly focused in the Marlborough region of the South Island, it is also planted throughout the South and North Islands. It has also been very successful in California, Chile, Australia, South Africa and the northeast regions of Italy.
As a late budder and early ripener, Sauvignon Blanc doesn’t necessitate an enormous amount of heat in order to fully ripen. Because of that, it can thrive in the maritime climate of Bordeaux and Marlborough as well as the continental climate of Sancerre. It is also notably adaptable to different soil types: chalk and Kimmeridgean marl in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, alluvial soils in Bordeaux, stony and sandy soils in New Zealand, and several other soil types throughout California, Chile and Australia.
Being that versatile in cultivation, Sauvignon Blanc most certainly picks up distinct flavor profiles from its regions of origin. The characters can be on one end of the spectrum with high acid and citrus notes all the way to the other end with a rounder body and ripe peach and tropical notes. But when all is said and done, there is one trait that can be expected throughout its production around the globe – Sauvignon Blanc is hands down one of the most refreshing white wines that you’ll ever find in a bottle.
Sauvignon Blanc Characteristics
- Citrus, Melon, Grapefruit, Green Bell Pepper, Basil, Mineral, Grass, Mint, Thyme, Dill, Cilantro, Jalapeño, Tarragon, Celery, Lemongrass, Wet Concrete, lemon
- Fruit – Lime, Green Apple, Kiwi, Passionfruit, Guava, White Peach, Asian Pear,
- Oak – Vanilla, Spice, Smoke, Vanilla, Coconut, Butter, Nutmeg, Cream
- Medium – Medium High
- Unoaked: 46 ºF (8 ºC)
- Oaked: 52 ºF (11 ºC)
- Albariño, Colombard, Grüner Veltliner, Verdicchio, Vermentino, Verdejo
- Beyaz Sauvignon, Blanc Doux, Blanc Fume, Bordeaux bianco, Douce blanche, Feher Sauvignon, Feigentraube, Fie, Fie dans le Neuvillois, Fume Surin, Genetin, Gennetin, Gentin a Romorantin, Gros Sauvignon, Libournais, Melkii Sotern, Muskat Silvaner, Muskat Sylvaner, Muskatani Silvanec, Muskatni Silvanec, Muskatsilvaner, Painechon, Pellegrina, Petit Sauvignon, Picabon, Piccabon, Pinot Mestny Bely, Pissotta, Puinechou, Punechon, Punechou, Quinechon, Rouchelin, Sampelgrina, Sarvonien, Sauternes, Sauvignon, Sauvignon bianco, Sauvignon Bijeli, Sauvignon blanco, Sauvignon Fume, Sauvignon Gros, Sauvignon jaune, Sauvignon jeune, Sauvignon Petit, Sauvignon vert, Sauvignon White, Savagnin, Savagnin blanc, Savagnin Musque, Savagnou, Savignon, Servanien, Servonien, Servoyen, Souternes, Sovinak, Sovinjon, Sovinjon Beli, Sovinon, Spergolina, Surin, Sylvaner Musque, Uva Pelegrina, Weisser Sauvignon, and Zöld Ortlibi
- Crisp – Lively and refreshing with loads of fruit flavors and moderate to high acid
- Elegant – Crisp, yet round and complex, layers of flavors
- Oak – Hints of smoke and vanilla
- Fruity – Mussels, Scallops, Shellfish
- Grassy – Grilled Vegetables, Asparagus
- Creamy – Grilled Chicken, Swordfish, Spaghetti with Anchovy Carbonara
Different Sauvignon Blanc expressions of different wine regions:
Loire Valley – light, zippy acidity, citrus, gooseberry and flinty minerality
New Zealand – medium body, bright acidity, ripe peach and some grassy notes
Bordeaux (dry) – round body structure, golden apple and slight nutty flavors from oak
Bordeaux (sweet) – luscious body structure, baked pineapple, honey and toffee
California – medium body, grapefruit, apricot, and often an aspect of white pepper
Chile – light body, crisp acidity, gooseberry, melon and mint leaf