Sauvignon Blanc, one of the most versatile grapes, comes in many guises and from many regions. It can be an aperitif, light, sharp and refreshing. It can also be an excellent dinner accompaniment with good body and lovely texture or it can be blended with a variety of other grapes and lends itself well to making sparkling and sweet wines. There are various types of Sauvignon Blanc – Sauvignon Vert, Sauvignon Gris, and Sauvignonasse, all of which fail to come even close to Sauvignon Blanc.
Sauvignon Blanc, a self-effacing grape, it often hides under geographical or other names. In Bordeaux, a white wine is mostly pure Sauvignon Blanc, in Sauternes and Entre-Deux-Mers it goes into blends (mostly with Semillon and Muscadelle). In the Loire Valley, its spiritual homeland, it is called Fume Blanc and yields outstanding wines smelling “ flinty “ and refined with smooth bodies that many wine makers elsewhere in the world emulate but never successfully duplicate. Sancerre in Loire can be outstanding and so can Quincy. It is vigorous and must be controlled to obtain best results. If over cropped, it yields excessively vegetal smelling and herbaceous wines. Quality conscious growers specify that Sauvignon Blanc vines be grafted on vigour-prohibiting rootstock in an attempt to obtain best results. It likes cool climates and well drained calcareous to give its best.
Its characteristic, piercing instantly recognizable aroma and taste results from methoxyprazines.
often referred to as Sauvignon tour simple, is wide spread all over the world. In New Zealand Sauvignon made the industry famous worldwide. It can found in Australia, exists in huge quantities in South Africa and has been planted both in Spain and Portugal. Chile and Argentina produce substantial quantities of Sauvignon, as does California and Oregon. In California Fume Blanc is always in the style of Loire dry and oak aged, whereas wines labelled Sauvignon Blanc are invariably off dry or even sweetish and more quaffable on their own. British Columbia and Ontario are now starting to plant Sauvignon Blanc. Some of the wines on the market are fine and potentially very promising when the vines get older and winemakers figure out how to best treat the fruit.
Italy, in northern provinces, produces significant quantities of Sauvignon and in Chablis France Sauvignon de St Bris enjoys VDQS status. Robert Mondavi the founder of R. Mondavi winery in Napa Valley and his son Michael who dreamed up the name Fume Blanc which put Sauvignon Blanc on the U S A wine map and increased sales to unprecedented levels. Mondavi’s best Fume Blanc come from its To Kalon vineyard, the flagship of the company, is barrel fermented and aged approximately for one year in French (mostly Allier) oak for a rich and refined texture.
Sauvignon is produced in a variety of styles from off dry to bone dry and everything in between, not to speak of blending with other grapes. Even Mondavi’s best Fume Blanc contains six percent Semillon to make it rounder and more appealing in the mouth.
Lighter style Sauvignons go best with grilled fish and oysters, whereas the fuller versions can be enjoyed on their own as aperitifs.
The oak-treated Sauvignons are best with grilled and/or smoked salmon, mackerel tuna or swordfish. French, New Zealand and Ontario Sauvignons tend to be a little more acidic than those from California and elsewhere and hence can complement any seafood specialty, including pungent goat cheeses (Crottin de Chavignol come to mind). New Zealand’s Kim Crawford and Montana among others, produce Sauvignons that have become world famous, some say they are even more appealing than those from the Loire Valley.
When it comes to price, Chilean and Argentinean Sauvignons should be considered excellent value. Chilean Sauvignon rootstock originates in California and Sauvignons from there have a resemblance to those than their spiritual homeland of Loire. The wine is popular and is bound to become even more popular because of its versatility; vigour and food friendly taste capable of complementing a wide range of food specialties.