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Guide to wine
Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is an international white grape variety that originates in France. It’s long been used to make world-class wines from Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. Yet in recent decades, Sauvignon Blanc has become an everyday favorite thanks to the New World winemakers of New Zealand.

With its distinctive, vivid aromas and zesty acidity, Sauvignon Blanc is easy to peg in a blind tasting of dry white wines. The wine’s green, herbaceous and fruity scents are sometimes accented with musky aromas, yet its flavors are consistently fresh and bright.

In France, the intense fruit of Sauvignon Blanc is balanced by blending with other grapes, the process of oak aging and the contributions of the local terroir. (See Viticulture) In Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc makes refreshing, fruity white wines, as well as fuller-bodied blends with Sémillon and Muscadelle. The Graves region of Bordeaux, particularly within its Pessac-Léognan appellation, produces renowned blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon. Some are aged in oak barrels to make full-bodied, creamy wines that can continue to age in the bottle. The same Sauvignon Blanc blend is the source of the gloriously complex and sweet dessert wine of Sauternes, made of dried grapes affected by the Botrytis fungus.

North of Bordeaux, in the Loire Valley, Sauvignon Blanc offers more mineral flavors that emerge from the region’s flinty limestone soils. The most celebrated examples come from Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. These smoky, fruity and herbal white wines are best consumed while they are fresh and vibrant. Some winemakers add oak for complexity, which increases the wine’s ability to mature in bottle for a few years.

In the 1970s, adventurous winemakers began planting Sauvignon Blanc grapes in New Zealand. They grew them in moderate to cool conditions, with lots of sun for ripening, then aged the wine in stainless steel. Generally high in refreshing acidity, these New World wines offered up aromas and flavors of citrus, elderflower, peach and tropical fruit. Within a decade, delicious and inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc wines from Marlborough and other New Zealand regions earned international acclaim, and have since transformed the popular style of Sauvignon Blanc and spurred increased production worldwide. The fruit-forward, New Zealand-inspired style is now produced everywhere from Washington to Chile to South Africa to Australia.

Other New World winemakers opt for more traditional Sauvignon Blanc styles. In the 1970s, California winemaker Robert Mondavi began to experiment with oak treatments to produce a French-styled wine that he called Fumé Blanc, a term some California winemakers now use for oaked Sauvignon Blanc.

North of Bordeaux, in the Loire Valley, Sauvignon Blanc offers more mineral flavors that emerge from the region’s flinty limestone soils. The most celebrated examples come from Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. These smoky, fruity and herbal white wines are best consumed while they are fresh and vibrant. Some winemakers add oak for complexity, which increases the wine’s ability to mature in bottle for a few years.

In the 1970s, adventurous winemakers began planting Sauvignon Blanc grapes in New Zealand. They grew them in moderate to cool conditions, with lots of sun for ripening, then aged the wine in stainless steel. Generally high in refreshing acidity, these New World wines offered up aromas and flavors of citrus, elderflower, peach and tropical fruit. Within a decade, delicious and inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc wines from Marlborough and other New Zealand regions earned international acclaim, and have since transformed the popular style of Sauvignon Blanc and spurred increased production worldwide. The fruit-forward, New Zealand-inspired style is now produced everywhere from Washington to Chile to South Africa to Australia.

Other New World winemakers opt for more traditional Sauvignon Blanc styles. In the 1970s, California winemaker Robert Mondavi began to experiment with oak treatments to produce a French-styled wine that he called Fumé Blanc, a term some California winemakers now use for oaked Sauvignon Blanc.

 

Pronunciation
[so-vin-YON blonk]

Recommended food pairings
Roast and fried chicken, white fishes, oysters, grilled pork, vegetarian entrees, salads

Serving temperature
50-55°

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