Frequently Asked Questions about Sauvignon Blanc


Tart, crisp, aromatic, expressive are all standard terms associated with white grape variety, such as muscadelle, and white wine. With seven different types of white wine out there, we're sure you're wondering what their differences are and what makes them unique and special. That's why we decided to take some time to talk about one of our favorite wines: Sauvignon Blanc. 

What Is a Sauvignon Blanc?

Mark your calendars: May 3rd is International Sauvignon Blanc day, a wine worthy of a tremendous celebration! Incredibly popular and uniquely flavored with cut grass green herbal flavor acidity and a flinty taste, Sauvignon Blanc grapes grow nearly everywhere and, therefore, offer a range of varieties from lean to bountiful.The methoxypyrazine chemical makes the smell that you normally know from the wine. 

The green-skinned grape originates from the Bordeaux region of France, much like pessac-leognan, sancerre and sauternes, and thus, gets its name from the French words Sauvage ("wild") and blanc ("white") thus making the white bordeaux wine we love. While not confirmed, Sauvignon blanc is potentially a descendent of Savagnin grapes. This can be compared to the cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and chardonnay which is known for its tropical fruit flavor.

Where Is Sauvignon Blanc Made?

While the grape originated in France, specifically the Bordeaux and Loire Valley region, it has expanded to many different countries due to its popularity. Today, it is broadly planted in France, the Casablanca Valley in Chile, Romania, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Bulgaria, Austria, Washington, and California in the US. Some "New World" Sauvignon Blancs, mainly from California, such as Napa Valley, are occasionally called "Fumé Blanc," a marketing phrase minted by Robert Mondavi about Pouilly-Fumé.

The Sauvignon Blanc vine performs well in sunny climates that are not overly exposed to heat because the vines bud late but ripen early. 

In regions where the vine is exposed to irregularly high heat, the grape will over-ripen and produce wines with a bland flavor and tasteless acidity. Unfortunately, global warming affects the production of Sauvignon Blanc because the rising temperatures force winemakers to harvest grapes much earlier than they have historically. 

France

Sauvignon blanc grows in the maritime climate of Bordeaux, France, and is part of winemaking in the Loire Valley as well. These regions offer an environment that is preferable to the vine because they slow the grape's ripening and allow the grape time to develop and create an ideal balance between acidity and sugar. This balance is essential to the development of the depth of wine's aromas.  

French winemakers, in particular, pay attention to their terrior's characteristics of the soil and the many different elements that can impart in the wine. For example, the gravel soil in the Loire Valley is known to contribute spicy, mineral, and floral flavors, while in contrast, Bordeaux wines have a fruity personality. 

New Zealand

Crisp, elegant, and fresh are the phrases wine experts have used to describe the Sauvignon Blanc produced from New Zealand. New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are unique due to their distinguished flavors and intensity. Because of the South Island's geography, long, narrow, and rocky, no vineyard is more than 80 miles from the coast. The maritime's climate allows a long and even ripening season to help the grapes mature and develop a preferable balance of acids and sugar. 

Marlborough is New Zealand's most important wine region by far. The area sits at the South Island's northeastern tip. Sauvignon Blancs are particularly sought-after due to the soil's excellent drainage and reduced fertility, supporting the vine to concentrate its characteristics in lower yields. 

Another one of New Zealand's finest wine-producing regions is Wairau River Valley. At Wairau River Valley, the river's lower reaches are noted for the surrounding fertile plain; Sauvignon Blancs have a broad flavor variety due to soil changes. Those planted north-south within heavier soils are distinguished for providing herbaceous wines from grapes that ripen late and vines planted in stonier soils ripening earlier and presenting more lush and tropical flavors. This variation in soils and harvest time choices that winemakers must execute adds a unique component to New Zealand Sauvignon blanc.

Recently, Waipara in the South Island and Gisborne and Hawkes Bay in the North Island have been drawing consideration for their Sauvignon Blancs because they present complex contrasts to those from Marlborough. 

Chile

In the 1990s, ampelography, experts in the study and classification of cultivated varieties of grape, began to notice Sauvignon Blanc from Sauvignonasse plantings in Chile. The non-blended Chilean Sauvignon Blanc character is remarkably less acidic than New Zealand wines and comparable to the French style typical of Chilean wines. The Valparaíso region, a port city on Chile's coast, is Chile's best-known region for its Sauvignon Blanc due to its cooler climate, allowing grapes to be picked up later than other parts of Chile.  

United States

California is the leading producer of Sauvignon blanc in North America. Other states that produce Sauvignon Blanc include Washington state and Ohio. California Sauvignon Blancs typically have two styles: the New Zealand-influenced Sauvignon blanc has more grassy undertones with citrus and passion fruit notes. The Mondavi-influenced Fumé Blanc are more round with melon notes.

The grape is known as Fumé Blanc in California due to a marketing term created by Robert Mondavi. Fumé Blanc was the first wine produced by Robert Mondavi in 1968. At the time, the Sauvignon Blanc variety had a poor reputation due to its grassy flavors and aggressive aromas. However, Mondavi determined to tame the aggressiveness with barrel aging and then changed Fumé Blanc's name as an allusion to the French Pouilly-Fumé. Therefore, the name change was a marketing decision, and winemakers have since used the name they prefer. Today, both oaked and unoaked Sauvignon blanc wines have been marketed under the name Fumé Blanc. 

Australia

Australia is known for blending the Sauvignon Blanc grape with Semillon. Varietal styles, made from only the Sauvignon blanc grape, from Adelaide Hills and Padthaway have a differentiating quality from New Zealand's wines that typically are riper in flavor with white peach and lime notes and higher acidity.

How Do You Drink Sauvignon Blanc?

It's best if you drink Sauvignon Blanc chilled. When Sauvignon Blanc is too warm during fermentation, the alcohol becomes more noticeable and the flavors and acidity will be dulled. On the other hand, if Sauvignon Blanc is too cold, then the aromas and flavors will be muted. Experts suggest that Sauvignon Blanc be served between fifty degrees Fahrenheit and fifty five degrees Fahrenheit. 

Does Sauvignon Blanc Age Well?

If the wine was outstanding when created and stored perfectly, it could be exciting to taste. But if the wine was not stored properly, it's likely the wine has oxidized and has a flat, nutty flavor. Still open the wine and give it a try but have a few back up bottles just in case! 

How Long Is Sauvignon Blanc Good After Opening?

If you don't finish a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, replace the cork and put it in your fridge. While the flavors will remain fresh for 2–4 days, Sauvignon Blanc will start to oxidize longer than four days. However, if you have a wine that has been in the fridge for longer, try using it for cooking!

What Pairs Well With Sauvignon Blanc?

Sauvignon Blanc is a food-friendly wine due to its high acidity and bright, fresh flavors. For wines from Loire Valley, Sauvignon Blanc makes an excellent apéritif with fresh cheeses like chèvre (goat) or oysters shellfish, and white fish like trout, cod, and halibut due to their lighter mineral-soaked styles. 

More pungent, herbal expressions like wines from New Zealand are delicious with kitchen herbs and vegetables (i.e. asparagus, sautéed green beans, salads etc.) Protein, like fish, chicken, and pork, work terrifically with Sauvignon Blanc. Riper, higher alcohol like Napa's Sauvignon Blanc can manage heavier sauces and grilled white meats. Ultimately, the key is to balance the wine's weight and flavor intensity with the food's weight and flavor intensity.