Many well-known grapes of the world have their roots in France and were eventually brought to other parts of the world. Sauvignon Blanc is no exception and today can be found in the Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Australia, the United States, New Zealand and South Africa. The style of Sauvignon Blanc will greatly depend on the manner in which it has been grown. It can range from the likes of dry, herbal and grassy to tropical mango, to the likes of pineapple and peach and sometimes anything in between.
Sauvignon Blanc is one of the first varietals, if not the first, to begin wine harvest. Depending on the area and microclimate from which it is grown, it can vary in characteristics from aroma to the palate of all the above. Sauvignon Blanc on its own is very fresh. A mature grape of Sauvignon Blanc, will consist of little sugar (at least compared to other grapes later on in the season such as a Chardonnay or Pinot Gris/Grigio), and have much more of an acidic profile. To give you a bit of an inside ‘scientific’ perception: as the level of sugar increases with the maturity of a grape, the acid profile decreases. For any wine in general to be in balance, the maturity of the grape must be harvested at the ideal time, with an ideal equilibrium of sugar to acid ratio being correct for each specific varietal. For that of Sauvignon Blanc, it is just that much better if the acid profile is a bit higher. If it were to be lower, the wine would almost be ‘basic’ or even soapy on the finish.
Fifty Shades of Sauvignon Blanc…
Ok, so maybe there are not that many, but Sauvignon Blanc does have many facets in which style it may be made. This is all dependent on its region, microclimate and even vineyard management. A cooler, more maritime climate will produce a wine more herbaceous or grassy, where as one which is warmer will produce a style that is more tropical. Depending also how the vines are planted in relation with sun exposure, some grapes from the very same vine can be tropical on one side, say during late-day sun, than those facing a side with early morning to pre-noon sun, thus with the two being blended they might create a Sauvignon Blanc wine that is more complex and rounded.
So the next time you head to the store to grab another Sauvignon Blanc, have a look at where it might be from, its region and climate. Perhaps it might be even more interesting for you to grab a second Sauvignon Blanc from another region or climate all together. I am sure that between the two you will taste the difference and begin to realize the complexity of what may have been previously perceived as a simple, refreshing summer libation.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Christie Kiley, International Sommelier and Chef, has over a decade of experience in both restaurants and wineries. She began working kitchens under talented chefs. Nights off from the kitchen, she would work at the same restaurant as a server. Her passion for food grew into the wine industry. She has worked wine harvests in Napa, learning the nature of the product from soil to bottling. Working the back- and front-of-the-house in restaurants and wineries in sales, and as a food and wine educator, has given Christie an in-depth knowledge in both food and wine throughout many aspects. She currently lives in Buenos Aires, where she has just received her International Sommelier Certificate from the Escuela de Argentina Sommeliers (EAS) after two years of study. She works as a wine and food writer and Sommelier at a boutique hotel in Palermo where you can catch her most nights of the week entertaining guests with her unique wine tastings.