Summer and seafood are perfect companions to Sauvignon Blanc. This is a bright, crisp, acidic wine that is always refreshing during the hot days of summer. Sauvignon Blanc started in France (as most grapes do) and has made its way into many wine growing regions around the world.
Sauvignon Blanc is grown in many wine regions around the world. By understanding the top regions and the unique French labeling, you’ll have an easier time selecting this wine at the store or from a restaurant menu.
France: Loire Valley (labeled: Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Cheverny, Touraine)
California: Napa Valley, Sonoma, Mendocino, Clear Lake
New Zealand: Marlborough, Nelsen, Huke’s Bay
This grape started in the Bordeaux region of France but was historically blended with the Semillon grape to produce a dessert wine. The Loire Valley in France is where the grape was kept true to form to produce the popular Sauvignon Blanc – single varietal (single grape) wine. To find this wine from France, you’ll have to look for it under the names: Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé.
In California, Robert Mondavi aged the Sauvignon Blanc in oak to balance out the fruit-forward profile (just means strong fruit flavors). He called it Fumé Blanc which is a label you may see on California wines from time to time. However, Sauvignon Blanc very rarely matures in oak.
COOL VS WARM CLIMATES
The differences you’ll see in Sauvignon Blanc depend on the climate it comes from. Cooler Climates like France, Chile, New Zealand produce a wine with higher acidity, green pepper, grass, and tropical fruit.
In the warmer climates like California and Australia, you’ll experience lower aromatics, lower acidity, and more fruit-forward flavors like grapefruit and peach.
Familiarize your palate with Sauvignon Blanc and discover the regional differences for yourself. You can easily do this by selecting a bottle of wine from each region and then tasting them side-by-side.
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Link to these filtered pages for top Sauvignon Blanc regions on Wine.com.
FRANCE: LOIRE VALLEY
CALIFORNIA: NAPA VALLEY
NEW ZEALAND: MARLBOROUGH
Whether you are actually doing the tasting or just opening a bottle, follow these 3 tasting steps to become familiar with the typical tasting profiles of Sauvignon Blanc. You can even have some of the cheese pairing suggestions on hand to see how they work together.
Take your glass and tilt it over a white napkin or paper at a 45-degree angle. Compare the color across all regions. They should be a pale lemon color. Some may have hints of green.
TASTING PROFILE: Pale lemon with hints of green.
Let’s see how aromatic this wine is. Hold your glass at your chest and see if you can catch any scent. Then move it to your chin and try to smell. Then really put your nose in the glass and take a big sniff. What scents do you catch? Swirl the wine and then sniff again. What scents do you catch now?
TASTING PROFILE: This is an aromatic grape that you should be able to smell at your chest or chin. Scents include Herbaceous notes, floral aromas, green fruits, stone fruits, tropical fruits.
Take a taste and swirl it in your mouth. What flavors do you taste? After you swallow, how long does the flavor linger and how would you describe those flavors?
Fruit: Herbaceous notes and ranges from green fruit and stone fruit to tropical fruit.
Acidity (tart, crisp): High levels
Tannin (dry, bitter): None
Body (weight, mouthfeel): Light to medium body
Alcohol: 12-14% ABV
Oak: Rarely matures in oak. Warmer climate Sauvignon Blanc may mature in oak to round out fruit forward flavors. Wine labeled with Fumé Blanc is matured in oak.
EASY RATING SYSTEM
After you taste each wine, give it a rating using this easy rating system. Add notes to help remember what you liked or didn’t like about the wine.
3pts Good, but not great
1pt Not for me
LEARN MORE ABOUT
THE NOBLE GRAPES
Do a deeper exploration of these wines. Find out about the top regions and conduct a varietal specific tasting. For example, line up Pinot Noir from each of the top regions and compare.