Grape Varieties S-T Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc Wine

Sauvignon Blanc is a white-wine grape from western France, now successfully grown in emerging and established wine regions all over the world. While the grape may be more readily associated with the Loire Valley (for its pivotal role in Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé), it is more likely to have originated from Bordeaux, where it is typically blended with Semillon.

In the late 20th Century, a new region began to gain a reputation as one of the great Sauvignon Blanc regions of the world: Marlborough, at the northern tip of New Zealand's South Island. The rapid development of the Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most dramatic events in the world of wine. The intense and readily accessible flavor of a classic Marlborough "Savvy" (as it is colloquially known in that part of the world) has captured a vast market around the globe, from the United States and Canada to the UK and northern Europe, Australia and Japan. In 2015, Sauvignon Blanc accounted for around 85% of New Zealand's wine exports.

Sauvignon Blanc Grapes
?Waiheke Wine Association

Outside France and New Zealand, the variety has been relatively successful in New World regions such as California, Chile (particularly the Casablanca and San Antonio valleys) and South Africa. Even in Australia the variety can thrive in the cooler coastal areas of the south. In Europe, the cool, sunny sub-alpine slopes of Alto Adige and Friuli in northern Italy produce high quality Sauvignon Blanc, which is used in blends with native varieties like Friulano or on its own.

The key selling point of Sauvignon Blanc is its straightforwardness – the flavors are rarely hidden away in the background. Also, there is a particularly close correlation between the perceived flavors and their descriptors, making Sauvignon Blanc an ideal wine with which to begin wine-tasting lessons.

Classic Sauvignon Blanc aromas range from grass, nettles, blackcurrant leaf and asparagus to green apples and gooseberries, and to more esoteric notes such as cats' pee and gunflint. The latter is a sign of a wine from Pouilly-Fumé, where the struck flint aroma (known there as pierre à fusil) derives from the presence of high levels of chert in the local limestone soils. This effect is so pronounced and consistent that Sauvignon Blanc was once widely known as Blanc Fumé in this part of the Loire.

When combined with Semillon, as it is in most Bordeaux blanc, Sauvignon is found in some of the world's finest dry white wines. Although generally a minor component, it also plays an important role alongside Semillon in Sauternes, the closest the variety gets to the top end of the wine spectrum. Since the 1970s, this pairing has become the staple white blend in Australia's Margaret River region.

A relatively robust, vigorous vine (which explains its popularity with viticulturists), Sauvignon adapts readily to all kinds of growing environments. Because it ripens early, it can be grown in relatively cool climates – its Loire homeland being the most obvious example – while its naturally high acidity allows it to retain a level of freshness even in warmer areas. However, to achieve the true, forward zing that best characterizes Sauvignon Blanc wine, a cooler terroir is needed, ideally with persistent bright sunshine and a dry harvest period.

Strange as it may seem, bright, green Sauvignon Blanc has much in common with dark-skinned Cabernet Sauvignon, and not just in the name and region of origin. The bell-pepper and asparagus flavors detectable in wines of both types are down to the methoxypyrazine flavor compounds in both varieties. Also, they are both vigorous growers that produce generous yields and are inclined to produce overly dense canopies in cooler climates. The two varieties are, in fact, genetically related; Sauvignon became the parent to Cabernet Sauvignon after a natural crossing with Cabernet Franc in an 18th-Century Bordeaux vineyard. Both parent and offspring have now become two of the most widely planted vine varieties in the world.

Synonyms include: Fumé Blanc, Sauvignon Bianco, Muskat-Silvaner, Muskat-Sylvaner.

Food matches for Sauvignon Blanc include:

  • Broad bean and chèvre salad
  • Grilled asparagus with hollandaise
  • Bluff oysters with dill and lime vinaigrette

Enjoy this video of three top wine writers discussing Sauvignon Blanc...

Production by region Expand/collapse

Most Popular Sauvignon Blanc Wine

Based on search frequency, updated monthly
Wine Name
Region
Popularity
Score
Avg Price
Benjamin-Louis - Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume Silex, Loire, France Pouilly-Fume 367th 93 $151
Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand Marlborough 372nd 90 $29
Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand Marlborough 852nd 88 $16
Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux, Bordeaux, France Bordeaux 869th 93 $287
Edmond Vatan Sancerre Clos la Neore, Loire, France Sancerre 1,107th 92 $277
Screaming Eagle Sauvignon Blanc, Oakville, USA Oakville 1,526th 91 $5,473
Benjamin-Louis - Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume Pur Sang, Loire, France Pouilly-Fume 1,531st 92 $114
Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand Marlborough 1,609th 91 $52
Baron de Ladoucette Pouilly-Fume 'Baron de L', Loire, France Pouilly-Fume 1,701st 90 $86
Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand Marlborough 1,765th 87 $12
Allan Scott Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand Marlborough 1,870th 88 $14
Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand Marlborough 2,042nd 91 $20
Villa Maria Private Bin Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand Marlborough 2,293rd 88 $12
Joel Gott Wines Sauvignon Blanc, California, USA California 2,373rd 88 $12
Alphonse Mellot Sancerre La Moussiere, Loire, France Sancerre 2,511th 90 $33
Domaine Vacheron Sancerre, Loire, France Sancerre 2,681st 90 $30
Benjamin-Louis - Didier Dagueneau Blanc Fume de Pouilly, Loire, France Pouilly-Fume 2,738th 90 $80
Baron de Ladoucette Pouilly-Fume, Loire, France Pouilly-Fume 2,841st 89 $38
Groot Constantia Sauvignon Blanc, Constantia, South Africa Constantia 3,205th 89 $18
Francois Cotat Sancerre Les Monts Damnes, Loire, France Sancerre 3,395th 91 $58
Benjamin-Louis - Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume Buisson-Renard, Loire, France Pouilly-Fume 3,588th 92 $113
Henri Bourgeois Sancerre Les Baronnes, Loire, France Sancerre 3,601st 89 $27
Saint Clair Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand Marlborough 3,644th 88 $19
Mud House Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand Marlborough 3,780th 88 $12
Whitehaven Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand Marlborough 3,892nd 88 $18
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To see how Wine-Searcher uses average pricing and professional wine critic scores on this page, please see Average Wine Prices and Wine Scores. To find out about popularity, please see Wine Ranks.
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