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Love it or hate it – Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most instantly recognisable grape varieties for its pungent grassy, gooseberry aromas and refreshing acidity. Sauvignon Blanc is a versatile white grape variety that create white wines ranging in flavour from grassy to mineraly to fruity.

Distinct aromas of grapefruit, gooseberry, freshly mown grass, green bell pepper, nettles and even cats pee! Other Sauvignon Blanc flavors and aromas can also include apples, melons, passion fruit and smoke. Sauvignon Blanc tends to be more grassy when picked early, more fruity when picked late. Sauvignon Blanc flavors also depends heavily on terroir (where the grapes are grown/influences from climate and soil). Cooler climates tend to produce herbaceous styles, while warmer temperatures develop more citrus zesty aromas. The most famous wines made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes come from the Loire valley and bordeaux in France.

In the winery, a number of styles can be accomplished by using different wine making techniques including fermentation temperature and ageing in oak. French wines made from Sauvignon Blanc tend to be unoaked, for example, while California Sauvignon Blanc (often called Fumé Blanc) tends to be oaked to soften the acidic characteristics to produce more vanilla, creamy style wines.

French wine makers also tend to ferment Sauvignon Blanc in warmer temperatures, which enhances the mineral aspects of the flavour, while American wineries use colder temperatures to bring out the floral and fruity aspects. The purest expression of the Sauvignon Blanc grape is found in France in the Loire Valley (Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume) and Bordeaux. However, it is making great wines in New Zealand, California ( fumé blanc), Australia, South Africa, and Chile. In Bordeaux, it is usually blended with the Sémillon grape to produce both fine dry wines (Graves) and the beautifully luscious sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac.

Quick food match different Sauvignon Blanc regions and styles:

Sancerre, Pouilly-fumé and the Loire: France’s premium sauv.blanc region, minerally, flinty and smoky – match with goats cheese, fish dishes and pepper/asparagus veg dishes.

Bordeaux: traditionally blended with Sémillon for both dry and sweet styles. Usually medium bodied every day wines. Match with fish, salads and light meals, while richly sauced fish dishes and lobster should be matched with top notch examples from Graves.

Austria: More of a fruity style with the same crisp acidity of the Loire – match with similar fish dishes.

New Zealand: Intense, concentrated gooseberry fruit. Pungent herbaceous examples from Marlborough – match with shellfish and sweet veg.

USA: Oaked style Fume Blanc creamy with rounded vanilla accents popular in California – match with fish, chicken, sweet corn, leeks etc..

Australia: Some winemakers especially in the cooler area of Adelaide hills have started making true varietal Sauvignon Blanc with finesse – match with shellfish.

Chile & South Africa: Similar to New Zealand styles match Chilean and South African wines with sweet veg and shellfish.

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