Sauvignon Blanc

Origins      

  • Probably in Bordeaux region
  • Parent of red grape Cabernet Sauvignon (established by DNA analysis)

Characteristics

  • Vigorous plant, so can be too leafy and overproductive
  • Aromas and flavours described as: herbaceous, grassy and nettley; Gooseberries; but can also show more tropical fruits such as white peach and guava; "Cat’s pee"
  • To be drunk young (unless oaked and expensive or Pouilly-Fumé)

Vinification/Maturation

  • Vinification needs to be as clean and simple as possible in order to preserve freshness.
  • Vinification and maturation usually in stainless steel tanks. SB can also be matured in oak barrels.

Homelands within France

A. Bordeaux

  • Large quantities of SB planted. Wine often undistinguished as a varietal but SB is key ingredient in blends with Sémillon
  • Dry: Graves and Pessac Léognan.  Sweet: Sauternes and Barsac

B. Loire

  • The Central vineyards, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, plus satellite appellations: Menetou-Salon, Quincy & Reuilly. Here SB has classic style and flavour. Key is white chalk and clay soils
  • Also Touraine and all over the Loire valley

Also to be found in 

  • France: Very widely planted throughout France, e.g.  Sauvignon de St. Bris, S.W. France, for example Bergerac; Languedoc: Vin de Pays  (Note: from warmer climates in the south SB tends to be rounder, slightly sweeter and less crisp)
  • N.E. Italy, esp. Friuli
  • Austria: Styria in the south
  • New Zealand: the Definitive New World style, though first wines bottled only in 1974. Widely planted but most successful in Marlborough, home to 2/3 of plantings. Cool climate and sharp draining soils
  • South Africa: First planted in 18thC. Recent success, esp. in cooler or higher sites, e.g. Bamboes Bay, Cederberg, Elgin and Cape Agulhas. Cape style between Loire and NZ
  • Australia: Few real successes; too hot
  • California: Often blended and/or oak aged: "Blanc Fumé" style
  • Chile: Formerly less varietal character as often inadvertently mixed with Sauvignonasse, a related but lesser grape; now excellent results

Now one of the most popular grapes in the Uk market - perhaps because so recognisable a style.

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