Pronounced “saw-vin-yawn blonk”, Sauvignon Blanc is a crisp, grassy dry white wine that is cultivated in numerous places around the world. Both Bordeaux and the Loire Valley regions of France lay claim as the homeland of the Sauvignon Blanc grape.
This green-skinned white grape gets its name from the French words sauvage (wild) and blanc (white). In addition to France, this grape variety is popular in several wine-growing regions around the world. In the 1980s it was New Zealand that really brought Sauvignon Blanc wine to the international market and got the world to take notice of this refreshing dry wine.
What is Sauvignon Blanc?
Sauvignon Blanc is an internationally popular dry white wine that is often considered the international standard for dry white wines. Noted for its high acidity and low sugar, this refreshing dry wine has a predominantly green or grassy flavour.
The Sauvignon Blanc wine grape prefers cooler climates that assist in keeping the acidity levels quite high. Sauvignon Blanc is also one of the parent grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon.
Where is Sauvignon Blanc From?
The Sauvignon Blanc grape originates in Western France. In Bordeaux, it is most often used in the local white blends and to make Sauterne, a dessert wine. In the Loire Valley, the dry white wine made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape is called Sancerre, the region of the Loire Valley where the grape is cultivated.
From France, the Sauvignon Blanc grape found its way to regions in Austria, Hungary, and Italy that provided a suitable climate for its cultivation.
New Zealand brought Sauvignon Blanc to the international stage and while it was already cultivated in Australia, it is believed that New Zealand’s success has encouraged its cultivation in other New World countries such as California, Chile, and South Africa.
How is Sauvignon Blanc Made?
Just like with other wines, the Sauvignon Blanc grapes are first harvested and then pressed. The pressed grapes are then fermented to produce alcohol and then aged.
The standard varieties of Sauvignon Blanc are aged in barrels made of stainless steel which gives Sauvignon Blanc its signature crisp, grassy taste. A smaller variety of Sauvignon Blancs are aged in oak barrels which result in spiced notes to the wine’s flavour. The particular flavour notes imparted are dependent on the oak barrels that are used.
Two of the most famous varieties are the Fumé Blanc style and the Chateau Mârgaux vin de sauvignon from Bordeaux. The Fumé Blanc style was established in California by Robert Mondavi in the 1960s and is renowned for its smoky, gunflint notes. Chateau Mârgaux vin de sauvignon is produced from a 27-acre (11-hectare) plot on the famous Margaux estate in the Bordeaux region of France.
What Does Sauvignon Blanc Taste Like?
Most often described as grassy with a zesty and refreshing taste. There is still a remarkable variety of tastes available for Sauvignon Blanc. The most common style variances are due to where it is produced and how it is aged.
Renowned for its pucker inducing high acidity, Sauvignon Blanc is a medium-bodied dry white wine with straightforward flavours. The classic aromas are the bitterness of grass and nettles to green apples and bell pepper notes.
Sauvignon Blanc produced in warmer climes is often more tropical with notes of grapefruit and mango. Mineral flavours with flinty or wet stone notes are imparted by the soil in which the grapevines are cultivated. Ageing in oak barrels is used to impart a variety of spicy notes including clove, nutmeg, and vanilla.
Is Sauvignon Blanc Sweet or Dry?
Sauvignon Blanc is a dry wine. The dry style of wine is defined by its low sugar content. Sauvignon Blanc, like any white wine classified as dry, contains less than 1% sugar. This equates to less than 4 grams of sugar per litre.
The amount of sugar is determined both by when the grapes are harvested and by how long the fermentation process lasts. The riper the grapes the higher the sugar content. And the longer the fermentation the more sugar is turned into alcohol by the yeast.
How to Drink Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc is best served chilled, with the ideal temperature between 7-12oC (45-55oF). Serving your Sauvignon Blanc too cold will mute the flavours and aromas. Serving it too warm reduces the acidity and strengthens the alcohol.
Sauvignon Blanc is best served in a standard white wine glass with a long stem and narrow bowl. The stem will prevent your hands from warming the wine and the narrow bowl preserves the aromas.
What Do You Eat With Sauvignon Blanc?
Sauvignon Blanc is often considered one of the best wines for pairing with food. Your main guideline for such food pairing is “go green”. Sauvignon Blanc is an excellent pairing with almost anything that has a herb-based sauce.
Seafood is a particularly good choice for food pairing, including white fish, shellfish, and oysters. Sauvignon Blanc is also a perfect accompaniment to sushi. For meat dish pairing, pair Sauvignon Blanc with white meats, such as chicken, turkey or pork. Sauvignon Blanc pairs better with the softer cheeses, such as goat cheese, feta, and mascarpone.
Most green veggies whether fresh, grilled or sautéed and well complimented by Sauvignon Blanc’s green herbal notes. For fruit pairings, your best choices are citrus or tropical fruits, such as lemon, passion fruit, and mango.
Is Sauvignon Blanc Expensive?
Because of the international popularity of Sauvignon Blanc and the variety of regions around the world that produce it, there are many very affordable Sauvignon Blancs.
With prices ranging from under £10.00 per bottle to Chateau Mârgaux vin de sauvignon at over £200.00 per bottle. There is a wide variety of prices to suit any wine connoisseur.
What Wine is Sauvignon Blanc Similar to?
For wines similar to Sauvignon Blanc we’ll highlight some wines that have similar green, herbal flavours and high acidity.
If you enjoy any of the following wines, you will probably enjoy Sauvignon Blanc and if you are a Sauvignon Blanc fan, then you should try out the following wines to tantalise your taste buds.
- Verdejo – A native Spanish wine produced almost entirely in the Spanish region of Rueda.
- Albariño – Also a Spanish grape but cultivated in both Spain and Portugal, where it goes by the name Alvarinho.
- Gruner Veltliner – This Austrian dry white wine is like a Sauvignon Blanc with a spicier flavour.
- L’Acadie Blanc – A Canadian variety that has similar acidity to Sauvignon Blanc but is produced from grapes bred to survive the colder Canadian climate.
Sip On A Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect wine to drink on hot summer days. But it is such a versatile wine that it can be enjoyed at almost any time. The fresh, crisp taste and bright flavours make it a welcome addition to a social gathering and a wonderfully diverse pairing for many food dishes.