Guide to Wine

Guide to Sauvignon Blanc White Wine

Shop Sauvignon Blanc Sauvignon Blanc grapes in Australia.
Sauvignon Blanc grapes in Australia.

This dry white wine grape offers distinctive flavors of citrus fruit, melon, fig, herb and sometimes grassiness. Sauvignon Blanc [So-Vin-YAWN-Blonk] can also offer vanilla and creamy flavors when introduced to oak. Typically light, crisp and full of fruit, and thrives as the white wine of Bordeaux and is used to produce the delicious Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre of the Loire Valley. It has also proven extremely successful in California, New Zealand and Chile. Although wonderful with food, it is also the ideal selection for an aperitif.

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Aromas

  • Fruit – Citrus (Grapefruit, Lemon), Melon
  • Grassy – Grass, Herbs, Mineral
  • Oak – Vanilla, Spice, Smoke

Flavors

  • Fruit – Citrus (Grapefruit, Lemon), Melon
  • Grassy – Grass, Herbs, Mineral
  • Oak – Vanilla, Spice, Smoke

Styles

  • Crisp – Lively and refreshing with loads of fruit flavors
  • Elegant – Crisp, yet round and complex, layers of flavors
  • Oak – Influenced by oak aging with hints of smoke and vanilla

Food

  • Fruity – Mussels, Scallops, Shellfish
  • Grassy – Grilled Vegetables
  • Creamy – Grilled Chicken, Swordfish

Regions

  • Bordeaux – Pessac-Léognan, Graves
  • Loire – Pouilly-Fumé, Sancerre, Touraine
  • New Zealand – Marlborough, Hawkes Bay
  • California – Sonoma County, Napa Valley
  • South Africa – Stellenbosch
  • Others – Chile, Washington State

Just as Chardonnay is responsible for the great white wines of Burgundy, Sauvignon Blanc is the white grape used to produce the extraordinary wines of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé as well as the white wines of Bordeaux which are primarily grown in the commune of Graves. Most produce wines which are crisp, dry and zesty with lovely citrus flavors and hints of grassiness. Unlike Chardonnay, it displays distinct and precise aromas and flavors which are easier to identify.

There are three distinct flavor profiles and styles that one will recognize when tasting this white wine. The fruity style, which often has no oak influence, boasts loads of citrus fruit, particularly grapefruit, lemon, melon and gooseberry that explode on the palate and in the aromas. The second flavor category is that of grassiness. No matter where it is grown, often contains aromas and flavors of freshly cut grass or herbal notes. When produced properly, these are amazingly delicious and alluring flavors which complement the citrus fruit beautifully. The final style is primarily produced in California where some producers have opted to age in oak, integrating a creamier style of white wine with hints of smoke and vanilla. These are often labeled Fumé Blanc, which is a marketing name created to increase the sales of Sauvignon Blanc in California a number of years ago. Oak influence often lowers the crispness and zest but creates a wine which is more similar to Chardonnay in style.

This wine varietal is used a great deal throughout France but truly thrives in the Loire Valley. It is used as the primary grape to produce the exquisite white wines, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Separated by the Loire River, these appellations produce whites with lovely acidity and are to be consumed fresh and young. It is also the white grape used to produce the lovely whites of Bordeaux. Sauvignon Blanc is planted primarily in Graves and is usually blended with Sémillon to add further complexity and body. Within Graves, a number of the upper end Sauvignon Blancs, produced in the prestigious Pessac-Léognan, are made in a creamy, complex style which are capable of aging but can also be consumed when young and fresh.

The much talked about Marlborough and Hawkes Bay regions within New Zealand produce top notch Sauvignon Blanc with loads of crisp citrus fruit and a distinctive herbal essence. In the United States, Sauvignon Blanc is produced in two styles. The first is made in a similar style to that of New Zealand and the other is influenced by oak to produce a creamy style.

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