Varietals / Sauvignon Blanc
White Grape Variety
Sauvignon Blanc is a white grape variety best known for its crisp, dry and refreshing white wines. The traditional home of Sauvignon is in two French wine-growing regions: Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. In the New World, Sauvignon Blanc is sometimes called Fumé Blanc.
Sauvignon Blanc is very expressive of the local terroir, and can range in flavor from grassy to sweet, and in aroma from floral to fruity. In cooler climates, Sauvignon Blanc wines tend to have more acidity and more “green” notes (such as grass and green bell pepper), mixed in with some floral and fruit notes. In warmer climates, however, the tropical fruit notes are much more noticeable, but these wines also tend to be less aromatic.
Classic examples of Sauvignon Blanc wines can be found in France’s Loire Valley, such as Sancerre, Pouilly Fumé, and Sauvignon de Torraine. These wines are often crisp, elegant and fresh. Within Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc can either produce dry wines (such as in Graves and Pessac-Léognan) or sweet Sauternes wines.
In the New World, key wine growing regions for Sauvignon Blanc include Chile, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Washington State, and California. Legendary California winemaker Robert Mondavi coined the term “Fumé Blanc” in 1968 to describe California’s version of Sauvignon Blanc. And New Zealand winemakers were the first to introduce the screwcap in place of the traditional cork for Sauvignon Blanc.
Sauvignon Blanc wines are best consumed young, when they have peak floral and fruity notes. As they age, they tend to acquire vegetable-like aromas that some have likened to peas and asparagus.
In terms of food pairings, classic dishes to combine with Sauvignon Blanc include fish and cheese. And, somewhat surprisingly, Sauvignon Blanc is one of the few wines in the world that pairs well with sushi. For many wine drinkers, Sauvignon Blanc is a natural white wine alternative to Chardonnay.