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What To Know About The Sauvignon Blanc Grape Variety

What To Know About The Sauvignon Blanc Grape Variety

One of the most popular grape varieties in the world is sauvignon blanc. The grape is most often associated with New Zealand and Australian wines, although it does in fact originate from France. It is well loved for its fruity and fragrant flavours, and is a very accessible wine to try if you are not a regular drinker. Here’s what to know about sav blanc!

Sauvignon blanc regions

New Zealand is most well-known for its sauvignons, particularly Marlborough on South Island, which produces about 90% of the total. For a North Island variety look for Hawke’s Bay region, Wairarapa region, and the Gisborne region. For an Australian sauvignon blanc, look for the Margaret River region to the west of the country.

France is the world’s biggest producer of sauvignons, particularly the Central Vineyards of the Loire Valley where the highly regarded Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé varieties are grown. The cooler conditions allow the grape time to grow more slowly, which produces a good balance between sweetness and acidity, and well-rounded herbal and fruity flavours.

Bordeaux is best known for its sauvignons that blend with other grape varieties such as sémillon. The mineral rich chalk and limestone soils guarantee consistent quality and quantities for most vintages. Spain and Italy also produce a reasonable amount of quality sauvignon wines, as do Chile, South Africa, and the USA.

What does sauvignon blanc taste like?

Sav blanc is a refreshing dry and crisp wine that has a delicate balance between sweetness and acidity.  It’s a particularly aromatic wine and you may detect citrus flavours alongside gooseberry, passion fruit, tropical fruits, pear, and fresh summery notes. Wines produced in European regions tend to be zesty and dry.

New World sauvignons can be softer and sweeter than Old World varieties, owing to the warmer climate and different soil types.

How to drink sauvignon blanc

This type of wine is light and refreshing enough to be drunk on its own but it also pairs very well with a wide variety of food. Citrusy styles go very well with seafood dishes such as oysters, mussels, and clams. Fish that has a delicate flavour, such as salmon, cod, and sea bass are also a very good choice, particularly when enhanced with a citrus marinade.

The acidity of the wine is rounded out very well with creamy and tangy cheeses such as feta, mozzarella, brie, or ricotta.  These can be combined with a pasta and vegetable dish with herbal flavourings. 

Grilled vegetables also harmonise very well with sauvignons, particularly asparagus drizzled with olive oil. The wine also complements herbs such as basil and rosemary, and works very well with fresh tomatoes or tomato based dishes. 

Fuller and more fragrant varieties can work with spicy foods such as curries and Mexican food. However, most sauvignons do not pair well with very rich and fatty foods with intense flavours such as most red meats, or very creamy or buttery dishes. Very sweet or very bitter flavours should also be avoided because they overwhelm the light flavours of the wine.

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