What is Sauvignon Blanc Wine?
Sauvignon Blanc is a grape indigenous to Bordeaux in the southwest of France. The region is known for producing some of the finest examples of Sauvignon Blanc wine. The famed sub-regions of Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre were established in the 1930s and are synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc white wine.
Sauvignon Blanc wine from Marlborough, New Zealand changed international opinion by providing the wine loving public with a glut of pungent, fruity and accessible wine. The hardy Sauvignon Blanc grape buds early and ripens late making production easy once excessive heat is avoided. In the Marlborough region of New Zealand’s South Island, winemakers have found excellent conditions for growing and younger markets – those with developing sophistication of tastes and appreciation – responded in their droves. New Zealand Sav Blancs are crowd pleasers and winemakers were all keen to please the crowds.
The wine-loving world started filling their glasses with Sauvignon Blanc and Australia responded. Though New Zealand is undoubtedly the leader when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, Australia offers compelling competition. As with all Australian wine, region is an important consideration given the sheer size and diversity of the growing area.
Common Sauvignon Blanc Wine characteristics
Is a Sauvignon Blanc sweet or dry? Winegrowers and winemakers can answer this question with the choices they make in production. Australian cool-climate Sauvignon Blancs are taught and racy with higher acidity.
These Sauvignon Blanc wines are lean and well structured with light tropical fruits and notable citrus. Some Sauvignon Blanc will spend time in oak barrels which will add more complexity and show more of the signs of winemaking.
Australian Sauvignon Blanc wines from warmer climates will show ripe tropical fruit. They will have a sweeter fruit profile, though it may not be accurate to describe them as sweet. Warm-climate Sauvignon Blancs will also have a fleshy texture.
Pairing food with Sauvignon Blanc Wine
Sauvignon Blanc is relatively neutral in terms of flavour profile; as such it is quite malleable when it comes to food matching. For the most part, Sauvignon Blanc is not the perfect pairing for heavier dishes like ragout. Most other foods, however, will be nicely complemented by Sauvignon Blanc wines. Spicy foods are an excellent match for the fruitiness and clean lines of Sauvignon Blanc. Fish, shellfish and salads will match most styles of Sauvignon Blanc. Higher acidity works well with spicier food as a rule so cool climate Australian Sauvignon Blancs suit hot curries.
The overt nature of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is often overpowering and usually better employed as an aperitif or with flavoursome soft cheese. Feta and halloumi work well with the aromatics present in Sauvignon Blanc though goat’s cheese is a classic match. The more mature and stinky varieties of goat’s cheese are better suited to traditional styles of Sauvignon Blanc.
Notable Sauvignon Blanc Wine regions
Loire Valley, France
The Loire Valley in France produces excellent versions of Sauvignon Blanc that are ripened slowly. The Loire region produces the Sauvignon Blanc wines Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre known for their finesse and complexity. The wines tend to have softer more citrus related fruit characters and take up the minerality and chalky qualities from the soil.
Marlborough, New Zealand
New Zealand’s contribution to Sauvignon Blanc can’t be understated. More taught and lean than Australian styles with a focus on primary fruit, New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc wines show more gooseberry, asparagus, herbal nuances and typical funky characters. Some of the most intense Sauvignon Blancs produced in the world come from Marlborough with green and herbaceous characters being the dominant regional indicators. New Zealand produces very fine premium Sauvignon Blanc using barrel fermentation and less contact, benchmarking the variety internationally.
Margaret River, Australia
The Margaret River region in Western Australia produces internationally recognised classic dry Sauvignon Blanc wine. These wines are prized for having an early drinking, sunny personality with a predominance of tropical fruit and grassy characters. The fruit impact of Sauvignon Blanc is a real success story, combining astute winemaking and great vineyard selection to make a balanced, ultra fresh style that smokes its peers for vibrant fruit character and easy drinking. Other key Australian regions include Tasmania, Orange, Adelaide Hills, Currency Creek and Limestone Coast.
The future of Sauvignon Blanc Wine
All in all, Sauvignon Blanc is a phenomenon currently destined to continue to hold the attention of the wine loving public. The synergy between climate in Australia and New Zealand and freshness of wine is one not to be taken lightly. Sauvignon Blanc is accessible, generally very fresh and currently very chic. As Sauvignon Blanc remains en vogue makers will continue to produce wine to please the crowds.
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