What is Sauvignon Blanc Wine?
Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine grape variety that is most often used to produce dry white wines. Light and refreshing, it’s unique in that its flavor sets it apart from most other white grape varieties.
Sauvignon Blanc is famously used as part of the blend for making the sweet dessert wine in Bordeaux, called Sauternes.
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Although the climate and terroir for Sauvignon Blanc grown throughout the world can have a huge impact on flavor, there are some general commonalities.
Sauvignon Blanc tasting notes are most commonly associated with tropical, tree, and citrus fruit. Specifically, flavor nuances of dates, papaya, melon, and notes of herbs or dry underbrush are most present when the wine comes from a cooler climate.
If exposed to oak, you may notice bits of English pudding, custard, and vanilla. While it’s probably most well known for being the preferred white wine grape variety in the Bordeaux region of France and the Loire Valley – New World wine-growing regions such as Napa Valley, Sonoma County, and Marlborough New Zealand are producing incredible Sauvignon Blanc as well. Classic fruit notes include melon, lemon-lime, white peach, grapefruit, orange, and papaya with notes of grass, geranium, green pepper, spice, and smoke.
Sauvignon Blanc variety pairs incredibly well with sushi. The light, crisply refreshing tropical fruits, and subtle herbs play well with fish crafted with similar toppings and sauces. Your fish doesn’t need to be raw, though. We recently had a beautiful New World Sauvignon Blanc with crisp oysters drizzled with spicy aioli and mango-poblano pico. It’s also worth sampling alongside lemon-butter scallops or steamed mussels.
When drinking a Sauvignon Blanc that’s been aged in oak, try something a bit heavier to accent the vanilla creme and toasted flavors. Grilled chicken with grilled veggies, chicken Francaise, or lemon-lime cilantro cream mahi-mahi (or swordfish) will pair nicely.
This grape variety can grow in both cool and warm climates within a variety of soil compositions. That makes it a bit complex. For instance, in New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc is drastically affected by the type of soil it’s grown in.
“Thicker,” more dense soil compositions tend to bring out more earth and herbal flavors, while “thinner,” more aerated soils tend to produce less herbaceous and more tropical Sauvignon Blanc.
Compound these soil variations with different climates and this grape variety gets even more intricate. Cooler climates also bring out more earth, herb, and citrus, while warmer climates bring out more tropical and tree fruit flavors.
Excessive warmth during the growing season can force these late budding, early ripening grapes to over-ripen. Over-ripe Sauvignon Blanc will lack aromatics, acid, and depth of flavor.
Most Sauvignon Blancs are meant to be enjoyed soon after release but a variety of factors can contribute to age-worthiness. Sauternes, the Sauvignon Blanc blend from Bordeaux, can age for decades due to the high sugar and acidity levels. Some Bordeaux Blancs are also age-worthy, though they are also blends. Oak-aged Sauvignon Blancs like the one produced by Merry Edwards can also age for several years.
- Clos des Lunes, “Lune d’Argent,” Bordeaux, France
- Château Suduiraut, Sauternes, Bordeaux, France
- Domaine Vacheron, “Le Paradis,” Sancerre, Loire, France
- Beautiful, Canterbury, New Zealand
- Zephyr, Marlborough, New Zealand
- Merry Edwards, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California
- Honig, North Coast, California
Learn About These Other Wine Grape Varieties
Written By Jamie Metzgar
Jamie Elizabeth Metzgar began her career in wine by pouring in a tasting room on the East End of Long Island, NY. After moving to New York City, she landed a position at Chambers Street Wines where she was encouraged to pursue wine education at the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET). She earned Level III certification there and has since earned California Wine Appellation Specialist and Certified Specialist of Wine certifications as well. After way too many moves, she has recently landed in Northern California where she is compiling an unofficial roster of dog-friendly tasting rooms.
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Tropical, Tree & Citrus (Fig, Melon, Lemon-Lime, White Peach, Dates, Raisin, Orange, Papaya, Grapefruit)
- Oaked Sauvignon Blanc: English Pudding, Vanilla Custard, Toast
Earth & Mineral Notes
Underbrush, Crushed Clay, Dry Herbs
Tumbleweed, Fresh Cut Grass, Geranium, Fresh Can of Tennis Balls, Smoke, White Asian Spice, Green Bell Pepper
Structure & Body
Alcohol Medium-Plus (12.5%-14.5% ABV)
Finish Finish: Bright, Medium
Fish, Sushi, Shell Fish, Grilled Chicken, Grilled Vegetables
This grape variety pairs incredibly well with sushi. The light, crisply refreshing tropical fruits and subtle herbs play well with fish crafted with similar toppings and sauces. Your fish doesn't need to be raw, though. We recently had a beautiful New World Sauvignon Blanc with crisp oysters drizzled with spicy aioli and mango-poblano pico. It's also worth sampling along side lemon-butter scallops or steamed mussels. If you're drinking a Sauvignon Blanc that's been aged in oak, try something a bit heavier to accent the vanilla creme and toasted flavors. Grilled chicken with grilled veggies, chicken francaise, or lemon-lime cilantro cream mani mahi (or swordfish) will pair nicely.