Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most widely planted grapes in the world, with over 275,000 acres growing across the globe. Strange as it may seem, it’s actually the parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, a genetic cross of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc that occurred sometime during the 1600’s.
Sauvignon Blanc is often associated with its roots in the Loire Valley of France, but likely originated in Bordeaux, where it is typically blended with Semillon and Muscadelle to create White Bordeaux and Sauternes. Marlborough, at the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, burst onto the scene in the late 20th century, spurring one of the most dramatic events in the world of wine. The intense, racy style of a classic Marlborough “Savvy” (its nickname in that part of the world) has captured a vast market around the globe. Outside of France and New Zealand, the variety has been relatively successful in New World regions such as California, Chile and South Africa and even in the cooler coastal areas of Australia.
Because it is so widely planted around the world, and has the ability to thrive in all kinds of growing conditions, Sauvignon Blanc has a variety of taste profiles. While virtually all are medium bodied with high acidity, French versions tend to be restrained and delicate, and lean toward herbaceous, savory, mineral flavors (think cut grass). New World regions like New Zealand and California are more likely to yield punchy, mouth puckering wines with bright gooseberry, passionfruit, lemon and pepper notes.
Sauvignon Blanc grapes were brought to California’s Livermore Valley in the 1870’s and by the 1950’s, were used to produce mostly sweet jug wine. To distinguish his new, dry version in the late ’60s, Robert Mondavi coined the term Fumé Blanc, a twist on the name used in France’s Loire Valley: Pouilly Fumé. He intentionally did not register the now popular name, and more vintners began to use it. What’s the difference between Fumé Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc? The answer is simply, none at all.
Sauvignon Blanc is an extremely flexible wine to pair with food. Its pleasant grassiness and herbaceous notes makes it a perfect match for lighter meats and seafood prepared with green vegetables and herbs like Parsley, Basil, Mint and Dill. Its high acidity begs for food that can stand up to it, like briny, tangy cheeses–especially goat cheese.
August Wine Finds
Bordeaux, France – Heinen’s Exclusive
This Heinen’s exclusive from the Entre Deux Mer sub-region of Bordeaux in south western France blends the three classic white-wine grapes of Bordeaux: Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle.
The Sauvignon brings its trademark grassy aromas, while Semillon adds a touch of complexity and a waxy, honeyed note. Muscadelle, the lesser-known of the three varieties, contributes grapey aromas.
Pale yellow color. Intense citrus fruit nose. Fresh attack and balance in mouth, ending with lemon and fruity aromas.
Wonderful as an aperitif, or to pair with fresh seafood.
Marlborough, New Zealand – Club 92 Exclusive
This highly rated new world Sauvignon Blanc is made with grapes sourced from Woolshed Vineyard in Marlborough’s upper Wairau Valley. A combination of clay based hillside slopes and alluvial flats, along with Marlborough’s warm days and cool nights, are perfect conditions for making world class Sauvignon Blanc.
This wine overflows with fruit concentration as classic tropical, citrus, and green bean flavors fill the front palate. The mouth-watering flavors continue to a crisp and beautifully focused finish.
Perfectly pairs with softer, briny and slightly tangy cheeses like goat cheese.