Sauvignon Blanc: What to Know

Sauvignon blanc is one of the most recognized and beloved white wine grapes in the world. Known for its high acidity and citrus-driven flavours, this widely planted variety is the backbone of a plethora of zesty thirst-quenching wines produced around the globe. However, knowing its subtle intricacies, particularly around where it’s grown, how it’s vinified and what to expect from the final wines it produces, is essential. 

What Is Sauvignon Blanc?

Sauvignon blanc is a green-skinned grape variety native to France. The grape likely gets its name from the French words for wild (sauvage) and white (blanc). Sauvignon blanc goes by various names, including blanc fumé, muskat-silvaner and sauvignon jaune. It’s one of the most widely planted grape varieties in the world. 

Where Does Sauvignon Blanc Come From?

Although sauvignon blanc is native to France’s Bordeaux/southwest regions, the grape is now commonly found in Australia, Chile, New Zealand, South Africa, the United States (especially California) and beyond. 

How Is Sauvignon Blanc Made?

Like all grapes, sauvignon blanc’s final flavour profiles depend on where it’s grown and how it’s vinified. The grape is generally produced as a single-varietal wine, although in certain regions (particularly in Bordeaux) it’s often blended with sémillon. In order to preserve freshness and natural acidity, most varietal sauvignon blanc wines are aged in stainless steel, though sur-lie ageing, in which wines are aged on the lees, is frequently implemented, which adds texture and weight to the final wines. Although they are generally consumed young, well-made expressions have long-term ageing potential. 

What Does Sauvignon Blanc Taste Like?

Depending on where it’s grown, sauvignon blanc can take on many different flavour profiles. In cooler climates, the wines take on more “green” flavours, such as green bell pepper, grass and citrus fruit. In warmer climates, the fruit becomes much more ripe, which translates to more stone fruit and tropical fruit notes. In the Loire Valley, sauvignon blanc takes on very flinty and stony flavours due to the unique silex soils in which it’s cultivated. 

Which Foods Should I Pair with Sauvignon Blanc?

Because of its high levels of natural acidity, sauvignon blanc pairs well with a variety of foods, including sushi and other raw-bar favourites. Its green undertones render it a match made in heaven with “hard to pair” dishes, including asparagus, green salads and other crisp veggies. Sauvignon blanc also pairs well with a handful of soft cheeses, particularly fresh goat’s cheese. 

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