Infographics & Guide to Sauvignon Blanc Wine Grape Variety
Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most famous white grape variety in the world producing one of the most popular style of fragrant white wine.
Its characteristic aroma profile makes it easy to identify, and enjoy!
We provide you here with simple and practical information about the grape:
- A summary of its origin and history
- Information about the Top Sauvignon Blanc producing countries and regions
- Infographic and aroma wheel to guide you through the wine’s flavor profile while tasting
- Wine & Food Matching suggestions
- TOP Sauvignon Blanc wines
You’re looking beyond Sauv Blanc, find more Top Grapes Infographics & Information, or keep reading.
Social Vignerons would like to warmly thank the Team at Cellier Domesticus for designing the aroma infographics on this page based on an SV original concept. Learn more this mobile app and sensor that allows to precisely monitor your wine cellar storage conditions in real-time at Cellier Domesticus presentation page.
Origin and history in brief:
Sauvignon Blanc originates from Western France in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux wine regions.
Its exact origin remains a mystery to this day and is still being investigated but the grape variety may be related to the other French grape called Savagnin.
What is known however, is that Sauvignon Blanc was crossed with Cabernet Franc to give birth to the most famous red grape variety in the world: Cabernet Sauvignon.
Thanks to the popularity of Sauvignon Blanc wines, their sharp and refreshing acidity as well as its natural aromatic intensity, Sauvignon Blanc has been planted rather extensively all over the world. The grape now plays an important part in the winemaking of many major wine-producing countries, from Europe and the Old World to nearly all New World countries.
Top Producing Countries and Regions: Where is Sauv Blanc Grown?
As the chart below shows, France remains the largest producer of Sauvignon Blanc by some distance with over 26,800 ha planted.
In France, Sauvignon Blanc is mainly planted in its 2 regions of origin, the Loire Valley and the Bordeaux region.
- In the upper Loire area, it gives birth to the famous 100% Sauvignon Blanc white wines of Sancerre, but also Pouilly-Fumé, Pouilly-sur-Loire, Menetou-Salon, or Quincy.
- In the Centre-Loire Valley, it is mainly used to produce varietal wines know as Sauvignon de Tourraine.
In Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc is often blended with Semillon forming what is known as the Bordeaux white blend (sometimes with Muscadelle as well). In the blend, the less aromatic Semillon tempers the exuberance of Sauvignon Blanc but also provides body and fuller texture as well as notes of ripe tropical fruit. But the popularity of Sauvignon Blanc wines has pushed producer to more often make varietal wines.
- Although Sauvignon Blanc is present all over the Bordeaux region, the majority of the production there is in the Entre-Deux-Mers area of the right bank where a crisp, fruity, and easy-to-drink style is produced
- the Graves area, and Péssac-Léognan in particular generally produces more complex and concentrated examples, often fermented in barrel and aged on lees making the wine much more age-worthy
- Sauv Blanc is also with Semillon an important grape variety used in the late harvest Sauternes botrytis wines.
Sauvignon Blanc is also sporadically planted in Languedoc-Roussillon where it is generally used to produce simple varietal wines.
While France and the Old World were the only producers of Sauvignon Blanc not so long ago, the demand for refreshing and fragrant white wines have encouraged important plantings all over the New World. The table below shows how plantings in the Southern Hemisphere are now more important than in the Northern Hemisphere. Not many grape varieties can claim such a Southern popularity:
- New Zealand:
New Zealand has undoubtedly become the new home of Sauvignon Blanc in the world, as the plantings of 16,000+ hectares over only a decade or two highlight.
70% of all New Zealand wine is Sauvignon Blanc, the huge majority of which comes out of the Marlborough region.
Find out more statistics and information about Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand on Map, Regions, Grape Varieties, and History of New Zealand wine.
The first plantings of Sauvignon Blanc in Marlborough happened in 1975. Read the full story about the pioneering producer of Marlborough: Brancott Estate.
But it’s only at the end of the 1990s and over the 200s that most plantings were done. Today, the Marlborough region, including the Southern Awatere Valley, is nearly all covered and planted with vines.
- Other Countries and regions
Outside France and New Zealand, Sauvignon Blanc has also been very successful in New World regions such as Chile (particularly the Casablanca and San Antonio valleys), California, and South Africa (Elgin, Constantia).
In Australia the variety has become the most drunk wine, overtaking even the country’s iconic Shiraz. Cool coastal regions have adapted and planted the grape extensively in recent years including in the Adelaide Hills or Margaret River.
In Europe, the cool areas of Alto Adige and Friuli in the North produce high quality Sauvignon Blanc, often blended with native varieties like Friulano.
Winemaking, Flavor and Aroma Profile
Sauvignon Blanc grape has a very characteristic and easily identifiable aroma profile due to the intensity of its primary flavors coming from the grape, the methoxypyrazines in particular.
To guide you through what Sauvignon Blanc wines taste like, with our friends at Cellier Domesticus, we have assembled a simple yet complete Infographic that contains all the main aromas and flavors you will be able to commonly find in a ‘Savvy’.
1- Primary Aromas is the term to describe the smells and flavors that come from the fruit itself, from the grapes (as opposed to the winemaking). Depending on the climate and the soil, whether it’s a cool climate or a warmer one, the primary aroma profile can vary.
Sauvignon Blanc wines deliver particularly pungent primary aromas that can be classified in the following families:
- Herbacious: with typically some very grassy notes of freshly-cut grass, lemon grass, gooseberry, or asparagus
- Floral: acacia, geranium, and chamomile for example
- Citrus: grapefruit is certainly one the most typical descriptors found in Sauvignon Blanc, but one will also commonly find aromas of lime or lemon
- Tropical fruit with passion fruit generally dominant sometimes accompanied with lychee or fresh pineapple
Sauvignon Blanc is also classically often associated with an unclassifiable smell: cats’ pee.
Many producers try to preserve the integrity of primary aromas of Sauvignon Blanc that are very sensible to most winemaking manipulations, oxydation in particular. Yet fermentation brings additional layers of secondary flavors as follows.
2- Secondary aromas describe the smells acquired by the wine thanks to the winemaking process. The natural flavors present in the grapes (primary aromas) combine and interact with the yeasts and bacteria that run the fermentation to create further aromatic complexity.
The alcoholic fermentation run by yeasts and transforming sugar into alcohol creates fruity aromatic compounds called esters bringing notes of pear, apricot, or peach.
Because Sauvignon Blanc aromas are so sensitive to oxydation, most winemakers avoid any contact of the wine with oxygen. This often leads to the presence of reductive characters (the opposite of oxidative) in the wines that can be easily identified as rubbery, eggy, flinty, or cabbagy notes.
If Sauvignon Blanc is fermented and aged in oak, it acquires aromas of smoke, toast, vanilla, and sweet spices.
3- Tertiary aromas are developed in the bottle with age, as the wine’s molecules interact with each other and with oxygen, changing their aromatic profile.
Many Sauvignon Blanc wines are not intended for ageing and are meant to be drunk with 1 or 2 years after release.
But some wines like Sancerre in France, or barrel fermented examples of the Graves or occasionally from the New World can age beautifully and develop further aromatic complexity
Typically, Sauvignon Blanc develops notes of honey, spices (curry), wax, and/or sherry.
If these tertiary notes are too pronounced and become dominant, they can become negative. When this happens too early while the wine is still young, it is referred to as ‘premature oxidation’ (or ‘premox’). This happens rather commonly on simple unoaked Sauvignons kept for more than 3/4 years especially under cork. Screwcaps tend to protect wines from oxidation better.
To help you identify these various types of aromas at your next tasting, we’ve put together the following aroma wheel. Print it out and go through the different aroma sections while smelling the wine. If any smell rings the bell and seems to be present in the wine, you are not imagining. It is probably there and you hopefully know why now.
Wine and Food Matches:
Being pungent, grassy, citrusy, fresh, and acidic, Sauvignon Blanc wines pair well with many tasty foods. As a few tested combinations, we recommend you try the ones suggested in our world-famous Infographics:
TOP 10 Sauvignon Blanc Wines around the World
We’ selected some of the most popular and delicious Suavignon Blanc wines from around the world (links below get you to their producer websites or wikipedia page):
- Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume Silex, Loire, France
- Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand
- Pavillon Blanc du Chateau Margaux, Margaux, France
- Merry Edwards Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley, USA
- Santa Rita Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, Chile
- Steenberg Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc, Constantia, South Africa
- Baron de Ladoucette Pouilly-Fume, Loire, France
- Denis DubourdieuL’Extravagant de Chateau Doisy-Daene, Sauternes, France
- Cloudy Bay Te Koko Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand (New World Oaked Sauv Blanc)
- Screaming Eagle Sauvignon Blanc, Oakville, USA (the most expensive Sauvignon Blanc in the World!!)
A Selection of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc Tasted by Social Vignerons:
- 2015 Brancott Estate Letter Series ‘B’ Brancott Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough: Score 95/100
- 2014 Matahiwi Estate Holly Sauvignon Blanc, Wairarapa: Score 94/100
- 2015 Stoneleigh Wild Valley Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough: Score 90/100
- 2014 Martinborough Vineyard Te Tera Sauvignon Blanc: Score 89/100
- 2013 Mt. Difficulty Roaring Meg Sauvignon Blanc, Central Otago
- 2014 Matua Awatere Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough
You’ve liked this Sav Blanc profile and want to learn about other grape varieties?
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Find further useful information about Sauvignon Blanc grape’s history and countries of production on Wikipedia.
Jancis Robinson also publishes a very comprehensive article about the grape.
Check out all of Social Vignerons’ Sauvignon Blanc-related articles and reviews.
Again Social Vignerons would like to warmly thank the Team at Cellier Domesticus for supporting the production of this page and designing the aroma infographics on this page based on an SV original concept.
Learn more this mobile app and sensor that allows to precisely monitor your wine cellar storage conditions in real-time at Cellier Domesticus presentation page or click on the images below: