When most wine lovers hear the name Sauvignon Blanc, often New Zealand (and especially Marlborough) comes to mind. Indeed, this country is known for fresh, rounded, elegant Sauvignon Blanc with the herbaceous, passion fruit, gooseberry and mineral notes that have earned it a global market. However, the Loire Valley in France is the spiritual home for the classic styles of this popular light-bodied grape. The Central Vineyards and Touraine in this region are world-famous for producing finessed benchmark Sauvignon Blanc wines with green apple, pebble tones, and lively acidity. Elsewhere in France, it’s widely planted in Bordeaux where it’s blended with Sémillon in both dry and sweet wines.
It’s evident from these locations that this aromatic grape thrives in cooler climes, but it is also cultivated in warm to hot countries in spots that benefit from moderating influences like ocean breezes and altitude. South Africa is a prime example of this. The Cape South Coast in the Western Cape has built a reputation for fine, expressive Sauvignon Blanc from places like Hemel-en-Arde and Elgin. Other classic New World regions that produce world-class styles of wine from this popular grape are the cooler parts of Chile like Elqui and Casablanca Valleys and Margaret River in Australia. Owing to its fine aromas and flavours, Sauvignon Blanc is usually made with winery methods that preserve its purity. However, producers in California and Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux ferment it in oak and use other techniques to produce a smoky, creamy complex style. In California, this full, spicy style is known as Fumé Blanc (it’s worth noting that sometimes this name is simply a marketing ploy and not all such wine has had oak treatment).
With so many styles, if you’re a fan of Sauvignon Blanc, there’s plenty to explore!
Fun fact: Sauvignon Blanc gets its name from the French words ‘sauvage’, meaning wild, and ‘blanc’ which means white.