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Grape Varietals

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon-Blanc-Grapes

Pouilly-Fume

Sancerre

Sauternes-Barsac

Introduction

Sauvignon Blanc is a green-skinned grape variety which traces its origins to western France in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux Regions. The grape gets its name from the French word sauvage ("wild") and blanc ("white") due to its early origins as an indigenous grape in South West France. Besides France, it is planted in many of the world's wine regions, like New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, USA, Canada and Chile; producing a crisp, dry, and refreshing white varietal wine.

Sauvignon Blanc Wines

Depending on the climate, the flavour can range from aggressively grassy to sweetly tropical. Wine experts have used the phrase "crisp, elegant, and fresh" as a favourable description of Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley (Pouilly Fumé, Sancerre, and Sauvignon de Touraine) and New Zealand. The gravel soil found near the Loire River and its tributaries impart spicy, floral and mineral flavours while in Bordeaux, the wines have a fruitier personality. Vines planted in flint tend to produce the most vigorous and longest lasting wines. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is famed for its pungently aromatic green bell pepper, gooseberry & lush passion fruit characters. Styles can vary from this traditional style to those showing fresh-cut grass, melons & lime. The Marlborough region represents 80% of all plantings. North Island styles tend to show soft, ripe, more tropical characters, whereas the more southerly styles show crisper, lighter more vibrant styles. The grape is also a component of the famous dessert wines from Sauternes and Barsac where it is blended with botrytis infected Semillion grapes. Unlike the dry styles, that are usually consumed young, these sweet wines can age well. It is also one of the main ingredients in Muffato della Sala, one of Italy's most celebrated sweet wines. Along with Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc was one of the first fine wines to be bottled with a screwcap in commercial quantities, especially by New Zealand producers. However, some oak-aged, dry, aromatic styles from Pessac-Léognan and Graves of Bordeaux can age up to fifteen years. Sauvignon Blanc is also beginning to gain prominence in South Africa's Stellenbosch and Durbanville areas.

The Sauvignon Blanc vine often buds late but ripens early, which allows it to perform well in sunny climates when not exposed to overwhelming heat. However, global warming has had an effect on the grape, with the rising global temperatures causing farmers to harvest the grapes earlier than they have in the past.

Food Pairings

Sauvignon Blanc wine when slightly chilled, pairs well with fish, crab, raw oysters, scallops, shrimp, smoked seafood or cheese, particularly Chèvre. Sauvignon Blanc wine also goes well with white meats like chicken or turkey. It goes well with delicately flavoured foods and slightly acidic dishes like salads with vinaigrette or citrus dressing. It is also known as one of the few wines that can pair well with sushi. Its crisp, straight forward flavour goes well with warm climates and casual meals.

Interesting Facts

At some point in the 18th century, Sauvignon Blanc was paired with Cabernet Franc to parent the Cabernet Sauvignon vine in Bordeaux.

Along with Sémillon, Muscadelle and Ugni blanc, Sauvignon blanc is one of only four white grapes allowed in the production of white Bordeaux wine.

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