Sauvignon Blanc: A Distinct Grape Variety
Let’s start off on our grape adventure with likely one of the most familiar grape varieties. Though familiar to many the wine drinker there may in fact be much to learn of this distinct green grape.
Sauvignon Blanc has a polarizing personality that is truly unmistakable leaving a wine drinker acutely aware of just what is in their glass. In the words of Oz Clarke, “A good glass of Sauvignon Blanc is like a Gin and Tonic or a chilled pint of Ale. Just drink it. That’s what it’s there for.”
New Zealand is Now the Official Home of Sauvignon Blanc Wine
The beauty of Sauvignon is its simplicity. Crunchy lime, leafy, zesty, zippy, fresh, pungent, vibrant and sometimes a mild whiff of passion fruit or guava. These characteristics are most noticeable and exemplified in cool climates were the grape variety and its aromatics utterly thrive. New Zealand is now the official and classic home of Sauvignon Blanc which is intriguing, seeing as it has only been roughly 4 decades since the first planting in that country. For crisp, clean and refreshing Sauvingon Blanc, look to other countries such as Casablanca Chile, South Africa and Ontario Canada where the cool weather nurtures these characteristics and contains the classic green grass, Thai basil, bell pepper notes of the Pyrazines found in this grape.
Loire Valley: the Original Home of Sauvignon Blanc Grapes
The Loire Valley of France was long thought of as the home before New Zealand stepped on the scene. The wines of Sancerre and Pouilly Fume, the most famous of the Valley are more often than not a much more muted wine with stone, flint, leaf and under ripe citrus fruit the dominating character. Often they cut like a knife and have an austerity to them that lends well to food and wine but not always to a patio and wine glass. Sauvignon Blanc is also at home in Bordeaux where it is blended with Semillion and aged in oak for a very different styled wine than its brethren. These are long lived, fatty whites made for the table and pairing. A creamy texture compliments the acidity with the hand of the winemaker adding layers of complexity and intrigue.
Classic Characteristics of the Sauvignon Blanc Wine Varietal
The green grassy, bell pepper notes of Pyrazines are always lost in hot and even warm climates where the Thiols create tropical, exotic fruit flavours such as passion fruit and pineapple while turning the citrus notes into custard like sweet flavours. California and Australia are great examples of these plush and easily cocktailed wine styles. A hot climate creates a more tropical, luscious style and less acidic or rigid wine, these are soft and round versions of this “heart on its sleeve” grape.
The Parents of the Sauvignon Blanc Grape Variety
Did you know Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc got together in the 18th century and are the parents of Cabernet Sauvignon? Both Cab Sauvs and Sauv. Blanc have the same distinct Green Pepper note of the compound Pyrazines as a dominate characteristic!