Today is International Sauvignon Blanc Day 2022, so to celebrate we’re sharing 13 facts with you about this French white wine varietal. International Sauvignon Blanc Day is celebrated on the first Friday of May each year so pop it in your calendar.
- Origins of the sauvignon blanc grape
Sauvignon Blanc originated in the Loire Valley. Its first known mention, under its synonym fiers, is recorded in 1534.
- The name Sauvignon Blanc
The name possibly comes from Savignin, the grape from which sauvignon blanc is thought to originate. The other possibility is that it derives from the French word sauvage, meaning wild. Blanc, of course, means white.
- Other names
- The vines
Sauvignon blanc grapes are small with golden yellow to green skins. They grow in small clusters.Young leaves of sauvignon blanc are downy and yellowish, adult leaves are 5 lobed and green.
- On the nose
These wines have strong aromas which can range from freshly cut grass, peas and asparagus through to tropical and ripe passionfruit, grapefruit or mango.
- On the palate
While sauvignon blancs will taste differently depending on where they come from, Sauvignon Blanc is known for crisp, high acidity. The grassiness in the aroma can also come through in the wine which thanks for pyrazine, a chemical compound found in the grapes, grassy, herbal or capsicum (bell pepper to the US) flavours can be found. Cooler climate sauvignon blancs tend to keep this character. Warmer climates however see that characteristic diminish with fruitier flavours taking its place.
- What are French sauvignon blancs like?
As with many varietals, sauvignon blanc wines taste different in each country and sometimes even from region to region.Sauvignon blanc typically produces dry white wines in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. There are, however, differences between sauvignon blancs from these two regions: gravely soils in the Loire give floral, spicy, mineral flavours whereas Bordeaux sauvignon blancs are often fruitier.
AOC Pouilly-Fumé wines have a smoky, fun flint flavour which is why the word “fumé”, meaning smoky, is used.
Single varietal sauvignon blancs under the Saint-Bris AOC are said to be less concentrated than the Sauvignon blanc-based AOC wines of the upper Loire valley, in particular Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre.
- Sauvignon blanc in blends
While Sauvignon blanc grapes are often used to produce single varietal wines, they are also sometimes used in blends. Most common perhaps is the Semillon Sauvignon Blanc blend. With a point of difference however is the Sauternes region, sauvignon blanc grapes are blended with Sémillon to produce Sauternes, a late harvest sweet wine.It is one of the four white grapes permitted in Bordeaux white wine production – alongside Sémillon, Muscadelle and Ugni blanc.
In the northern Rhône Valley, Sauvignon Blanc is often blended with Tressallier to form a tart white wine.
- Not just still: also sparkling
Some New Zealand producers have produced sparkling wine from sauvignon blanc grapes.
Sauvignon Blanc spontaneously crossed with Cabernet Franc to produce Cabernet Sauvignon. It has also been crossed with obscure grape Raffiat de Moncade to produce a grape called Arriloba, which is found in France, Brazil and Uruguay. In Romania, Sauvignon Blanc has been crossed with a grape called Sarba to produce another called Golia.
- Sauvignon blanc around the world
Outside of its native France, New Zealand has the world’s second largest plantings of Sauvignon Blanc grapes. 2013 measurements had New Zealand at 16,205 hectares with France at 26,839 hectares. Chile is in 3rd place with 12, 159 hectares of sauvignon blanc vines. The rest of the top 10 sauvignon blanc growing countries are South Africa, US, Australia, Romania, Spain, Italy and Ukraine.
- Think you don’t like sauvignon blanc?
Try French! Chilean sauvignon blancs are also said to be close to the French style. These are quite a contrast from New Zealand’s sauvignon blancs, which tend to be a lot higher in acidity than their French counterparts – if New Zealand has ruined sauvignon blanc for you, try a French (or Chilean) one and discover the differences!
- Get social
If you’re celebrating International Sauvignon Blanc Day 2022, share your glass (or bottle) of sauvignon blanc on social media with the hashtags #sauvblancday #sauvignonblancday
Happy International Sauvignon Blanc Day 2022! What’s your favourite sauvignon blanc?
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