Sauvignon Blanc

Saw-vin-yawn blonk

Parents & Origin: Savignin (Loire Valley, France)
Grape: Green-skinned, early origins as an indigenous grape in South West France with the French words sauvage ("wild") and blanc ("white")
Flavors: Gooseberry, Honeydew, Grapefruit, White Peach, Passion Fruit
Notable Regions: Napa Valley, New Zealand, Sancerre Pouilly-Fumé, Bordeaux Blanc
Sweetness: Dry
Body: Medium-Light
Tannins: None
Acidity: High
ABV: 11-13.5%

The History of Sauvignon Blanc

The Sauvignon Blanc grape is traced back to the Loire Valley and Bordeaux regions in Western France. But this does not actually imply that the wine originates from Western France; research suggests it descends from Savignin, which originated in the Alps. 

The first vines of the Sauvignon Blanc grape were brought to California from the Sauternes vineyards of Château d’Yquem in the 1880s by Charles Wetmore, who later established the famous Cresta Blanca Winery. These grew phenomenally in the Livermore valley and the introduction of Sauvignon Blanc in California has flourished ever since. The establishment of the wine in Chile is a more intriguing story-- in the 18th century, cuttings of the Sauvignon Blanc and cabernet franc, creating Cabernet Sauvignon, in Bordeaux were transported to Chile before the outbreak of insect disease on the plantations in France, and have grown in their fields ever since. For New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc grapes were transported to pair with Müller-Thurgau.

Interesting Fact: Sauvignon Blanc grapes originally grew wild in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux until winemakers from the 19th century tamed them--“sauvignon blanc” translates to “wild white” because of this.

Sauvignon Blanc Food Pairings

Given the high level of acidity and sweetness, and lack of tannins traditionally in Sauvignon Blanc, it is best enjoyed with food! And by food, we mean tangy herbs.

The Best Sauvignon Blanc Food Pairings

Tannins act as scrapers to the fats and proteins collected on your tongue from the food you eat. Since Sauvignon Blanc has no tannins, the hints of tart and tropical notes augment herbed sauces, pesto, cheese (especially goat cheese), oysters and delicate fish, green vegetables, and tangy dairy.

Food Pairings to Avoid with Sauvignon Blanc

Since Sauvignon Blanc has a high acidity, you should not pair the wine with low-acid foods. Foods such as tomatoes, almonds, bananas, grains, and nuts. Since there is a medium-light body, do not serve with very heavy foods, especially those with a large amount of animal fat. Avoid sweet, fatty, protein-rich ensembles.

Sauvignon Blanc Tasting Notes

Sauvignon Blanc is often blended with Semillon and Muscadelle. The wine is almost exclusively unoaked, but when in the barrel the flavors added with oak aging are vanilla, pie crust, dill, coconut, butter, nutmeg, and cream. The wine is made completely dry, but some New Zealand and California wineries add a gram or so of sugar to create a more unique texture. What distinguishes Sauvignon Blanc the most from other wines is its herbaceous flavors, caused from its aromatic pyrazines.

Sauvignon Blanc's Green Flavors

Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Malbec, Carménère, Sauvingon Blanc, and Cabernet Sauvignon all have 2 things in common: 1) They are a part of what is referred to as “the Bordeaux varieties” and 2) Each grape has methoxypyrazine, an aromatic compound group that is also found in green bell pepper. This bell pepper compound has traditionally been thought of as a negative component in large amount, describing the wine as having “green” flavors, but winemakers have learned how to reduce it over time to allow positive aromas like black pepper, green peppercorn, and sage to fill the wine.

Sauvignon Blanc Thrives in Cool Climates

The Sauvignon Blanc grape only grows successfully in cold climates to preserve its high acidity, medium body, and dry characteristics. The grape itself is able to grow in moderate climates but the herbaceous quality will be sacrificed. Due to this the most famous of Sauvignon Blanc wines are grown in the cold towns of Marlborough, New Zealand; Casablanca, Chile; Adelaide Hills, Australia; and Loire Valley, France.

Our Selection of Sauvignon Blanc

  • California: 2017 Mooncrest Sauvignon Blanc - This platinum medal-winner at the 2018 Critics Challenge International Wine Competition strongly displays the traditional aromas of melon and sweet citrus zest.
  • New Zealand: 2017 Duck Point Sauvignon Blanc - The gold medal-winner at the 2018 Critics Challenge International Wine Competition and consumer favorite, this wine has bright and exciting notes of lime and grapefruit.
  • France: 2016 La Référence Sauvignon Blanc - Produced by the Bordeaux magnate Bernard Magrez and winner of multiple awards, the 91-point Gold Medal and the 2018 Monterey International Wine Competition, this wine is of the utmost crispness.
  • Australia: 2017 Swings & Roundabouts Backyard Stories Sauvignon Blanc - From the beautiful Margaret River region, this Australian white medium-light bodied and fantastically paired with roasted vegetables.
  • Chile: 2016 Leyda Valley Familia Garcés Silva Sauvignon Blanc - Specifically grown in the San Antonio Valley for its cold weather, the tight acidity highlight the rich and salty herbal and citrus flavors.

Sauvignon Blanc in a Nutshell

Since its establishment in the Loire Valley of France in the 1800s, globalization of the Sauvignon Blanc shortly followed. Winemakers worldwide were enticed by its bold and unique nature and thus travelled to the coldest regions to harvest the prized grape. Its zesty, fruity, tropical, and citrusy flavors entice every white wine enthusiast. Whether enjoyed with oysters or goat cheese, it is no surprise that people from Chile to New Zealand lust after the “wild white.”