May 7 is International Sauvignon Blanc Day! Everyone usually has an opinion on Sauvignon Blanc — like a trusted brand, its flavours are immediately distinctive and recognizable. While it can get a bad rep for cheap versions that are overly grassy, when grown and made right it’s a perfect refreshing wine for summer and for pairing with goat cheese or herb-driven dishes such as Asian cuisine. Let’s learn more about this grape and style of wine, as well as a few of our favourites available in store!
What is Sauvignon Blanc?
Sauvignon Blanc is an aromatic white grape variety best known for producing dry, light to medium bodied wines with distinctive herbaceous aromas and refreshing high acidity. It is considered a French variety, but is now widely grown in cool and moderate climates around the world. Most Sauvignon Blanc wines are commonly unoaked and best consumed while young and fresh.
Fun fact: Sauvignon Blanc, along with Cabernet Franc, are the parent grapes for Cabernet Sauvignon!
Characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc
These wines are characterized by pronounced herbaceousness such as grass, hay, green bell pepper and asparagus, as well as floral and blossom aromas. Fruit flavours range from green fruits such as apple and gooseberry to riper, tropical fruit flavours like passion fruit. It can also have a mineral flavour to it, like wet stones.
The distinctive herbaceous characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc can be easily overwhelmed by flavours of new oak, so it is usually produced in inert vessels like stainless steel. A portion of the wine may be aged in oak to add some complexity. It’s usually a single varietal wine, though it is sometimes blended with Semillon. Best consumed while young, even outstanding Sauvignon Blanc wines can lose its characteristic freshness within a couple of years.
Loire Valley, France
Sauvignon Blanc is the only white grape allowed in Sancerre AOC and Pouilly-Fumé AOC, two appellations of the Loire Valley. Wines from this region are dry with high acidity, with aromas of green apple, grass, asparagus and sometimes wet stones.
Sauvignon Blanc from Bordeaux is often blended with Semillon to add body and help the wine age. Wine from the Bordeaux, Graves and Pessac-Léognan AOCs are often matured in oak, helping it develop flavours of honey and nuts in addition to its primary notes of grass and green apple.
Marlborough, New Zealand
When most people think about Sauvignon Blanc, they think about Marlborough! Big brands such as Kim Crawford and Oyster Bay are known for their bulk-produced Sauvignon Blanc, but there’s much more to the region than those! Sauvignon Blanc wines from Marlborough do tend to have more pronounced herbal characteristics than its cousins in France. Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc wines are often made by blending across different vineyards or harvesting grapes at different ripeness levels, leading to a broad range of fruit flavours such as lemon, peach and passionfruit alongside green bell pepper and asparagus aromas. Experimentation is increasingly common with the region, with some wineries experimenting with oak or lees contact to add complexity and body.
Sauvignon Blanc is the most widely planted grape variety in Adelaide Hills, with vineyards cooled by altitude and ocean breezes. Most wines are fresh and fruity with broad citrus and tropical fruit flavours. Margaret River also has a reputation for growing Sauvignon Blanc, both as a single varietal wine or blended with Semillon.
The coastal Casablanca Valley has a reputation for producing good quality Sauvignon Blanc due to being cooled both by sea breezes and morning fogs.
Sauvignon Blanc is increasingly grown in the northern, cool climate areas of the Okanagan Valley.
Much of California is too warm to produce good quality Sauvignon Blanc, but good examples can be found in the cooler areas of Napa Valley or in high altitude regions.
Our Favourite Sauvignon Blancs
Want to celebrate the day at home? Check out a few of our favourite Sauvignon Blanc wines available in store!
Calliope Sauvignon Blanc - Okanagan Valley, Canada
Intense passion fruit, peach, grapefruit, elderflower and lime combine playfully on the nose with verdant and mineral undertones. The palate is dry and crisp, bursting with candied lemon, gooseberry, passion fruit and lime zest with a long clean finish. Juicy and refreshing, this pairs well with a watermelon salad with feta, crunchy spanakopitas or Vietnamese salad rolls in hoisin sauce.
Avia Sauvignon Blanc - Goriska Brda, Slovenia
100% Sauvignon Blanc with notes of grapefruit, lemon grass, and sweet peas on the nose with herbaceous undertones. Medium bodied with elegant mineral notes exhibiting the terroir of the appellation. White wines are made in a distinctively fresh, crisp style reminiscent of the dry whites made in northern Italy.
Shannon Ridge High Elevation Sauvignon Blanc - Lake County, California, USA
Notes of lemongrass, mango, tangerine, gooseberry, with a steely crispness, nice tropical fullness, depth and a complex long finish. Pairs with ceviche and hot summer days hanging out by a lake.