Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most popular white grape varieties. Known for its crisp, refreshing, lively character that has loads of fruit and style. this is one of the easiest drinking wines. It leaves a mouthful of tropical fruits and a good clean finish.
Originally, Sauvignon Blanc came from South West France and was used as a blending grape. It gradually grew in importance when it became one of the accepted Appellation Controlee grapes for White Bordeaux wines. Here it plays a prominent part in Graves and Entre Deux Mers wines, as well as in the famous Sauternes sweet wines. In most Bordeaux whites it is blended with the Semillon grape to produce soft dry whites.
It is in the Loire district that we find its character emerging, with grassy gooseberry hints. In Sancerre and Pouilly Fume it produces superb wines with flinty crispness and a spicy green style. Many are aged in oak and this quietens the racy acidity bringing a softness to the fruit.
Sauvignon then expanded into the New World, developing a new racier style in places such as Chile, Australia, New Zealand, California, South Africa and many others. The grape, very prone to climate and soil, buds late, thus avoiding the frosts and ripens early, delivering its versatility. In the New World the mix of acidity, fruit and flavours are critical to this lighter style as the trend is to create younger crisper wines, full of fresh tropical fruits, made for early drinking. Picking early maintains their acidity, whilst slow controlled fermentations in stainless steel extracts maximum fruit. The result is a fresher, elegant style, with gooseberry, elderflower, grapefruit and tropical fruits coming through. The wines are cleaner and lighter, and because of that have created their own market.
The most prominent of these New World areas is New Zealand, where Marlborough Sauvignons, such as Cloudy Bay, have risen to fame due to their lively acidity and crisp gooseberry style. Other areas such as Hawkes Bay and Gisborne deliver a more apply flavour style. New Zealand has done much to bring Sauvignon Blanc to the forefront, but then so has Chile with its modern approach but slightly softer acidity, South Africa with a more grassy appeal and again softer acidity, and Australia where despite the heat Sauvignon produces some fine wines especially in the maritime vineyards of the West coast. California however is slightly more traditional and in the Napa Valley the wine is often aged in oak to produce Fume Blanc.
Sauvignon Blanc is a very flexible grape. So much of its character lies in the hands of the wine maker and how he best utilises the local climate, the underlying soils, and critically the vinification processes. There is no question now that Sauvignon has brought much to the world of wine with its different styles and characters. Great with seafoods, light meats, fish and salads, this wine is also just superb to enjoy on its own as a delicious glass of wine.