Sauvignon Blanc

By Lisa Rowlands

Ranked eighth on the list of the world’s most planted grape varieties, Sauvignon Blanc accounts for more than 120,000 hectares of vine across the globe. It is perhaps most synonymous with the French region of Bordeaux (where it is used in blends with Sémillon and less frequently Muscadelle), and the prestigious appellations of Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre in the Loire Valley. However, far from the grape’s French home, the New Zealand region of Marlborough, has emerged as another revered location for cultivating Sauvignon Blanc. The variety is also prevalent in parts of the United States, South Africa, Chile and in northern Italy.

A late budding, early ripening and fairly vigorous variety, Sauvignon Blanc can adapt to most growing conditions but performs best in cooler terroirs with abundant sunshine and little precipitation. Various viticultural techniques are applied across the regions in which the grape is grown to harness particular aspects of its character, and the variety of flavours which the grape imparts at its different stages of ripeness range from tangy lime to peach and passionfruit. Similarly, the decisions made in the winemaking processes can greatly influence the resultant Sauvignon Blanc led wine. Time in contact with skins, fermentation type and temperature, and whether to age the wines in stainless steel or oak, are all areas for careful consideration when vinifying the grape with a particular desired outcome.

Predominantly a dry wine, Sauvignon Blanc - from the French for wild white - is also a minor constituent in the celebrated sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac. However, in its most common dry style, it delivers varietals and blends which are usually medium-bodied, deliciously crisp and refreshingly easy to drink. The grape’s unique aroma and flavour profile includes grapefruit, green apple, bell peppers, asparagus and elderflower; a diverse array which distinguishes this variety from other widely grown white grapes.