Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine that owes much of its popularity to winemakers in Bordeaux and the Loire Valley in France. It is one of the most widely planted wine grapes in the world and because of this it has a wide range of styles and flavours from aggressively grassy to sweetly tropical.
Sauvignon Blanc is capable of producing wines of fine quality (dry or sweet) and with considerable depth and complexity. Most of the wine is made in a way that expresses the zesty character and tangy acidity of the grapes.
Australia produces its best Sauvignon Blanc in cool climate regions such as the Adelaide Hills. White wine blends of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon from Western Australia has also proven to be extremely popular.
About the Variety
Sauvignon Blanc differs greatly depending on the region, climate and soil in which the grape is grown. Vines grow vigorously in many soil types in both cool and warm regions. In cooler climates, the grape has a tendency to produce wines with noticeable acidity and ‘green flavours’ of grass, nettles, tropical fruit (such as passionfruit) and floral notes.
In warmer climates, it can develop more tropical fruit notes but risk losing a lot of aromatics from over ripeness, leaving only slight grapefruit and tree fruit notes (such as peach).
The Sauvignon Blanc vine often buds late but ripens early, which allows it to perform well in sunny conditions when not exposed to overwhelming heat. The wine is usually consumed young, as it does not particularly benefit from ageing.
In Australia, Sauvignon Blanc thrives in cooler climates that allows it to produce a defined acid profile and fruit vibrancy. The Adelaide Hills is perfectly suited to producing crisp, fresh, grassy examples. Richer more fruit driven styles are also being produced from McLaren Vale, Coonawarra and Langhorne Creek with a slightly higher acidity similar to New Zealand styles from the Marlborough region.
In Victoria, The Yarra Valley, King Valley and Goulburn Valley produce classic fresh grassy Sauvignon Blanc.
Western Australia’s Margaret River and Pemberton regions produce ripe and zippy styles with tropical flavours. Here it is also commonly blended with Semillon to add more complexity.
Elsewhere, Tasmania is winning favour for its dry, occasionally oaked styles, whilst in NSW, the cool climate and high altitude of Orange is producing Sauvignon Blanc with fresh, herbaceous characteristics.
With such a range of styles Sauvignon Blanc is a versatile food wine.
With its herbaceous characteristics, Sauvignon Blanc is perfectly matched with dishes featuring green vegetables such as asparagus and broad beans. Grain dishes such as risotto and quinoa as well as salads and grilled vegetables work perfectly.
White meats (chicken, pork, turkey), fish (perch, trout, snapper) and crustaceans (mussels, crab, lobster) are also popular matches.
More complex styles (such as Semillon Sauvignon blends) work well with smelly washed rind cheeses and goat cheeses.