10 Essential Facts on Sauvignon Blanc

Gooseberry. Freshly-cut grass. Tomato Leaf? If you haven’t guessed it yet, we’re talking about Sauvignon Blanc – one of the world’s most beloved and omnipresent grapes, and one that can elicit, well, “interesting” tasting notes. Sauvignon Blanc is the world’s third most planted white grape variety used for wine production, trailing only Spain’s Airén and Chardonnay. Here are ten essential facts you should know to master Sauvignon Blanc: 1. The word “Sauvignon” derives from “sauvage” – French for “wild.” While the name may conjure parallels to Sauvignon Blanc’s untethered herbaceousness or the variety’s ability to grow with nearly uncontainable vigor, in fact Sauvignon Blanc’s “wildness” alludes to its leaves’ resemblance to those of wild vines. 2. According to the Grape and Wine Research and Development Corporation, Sauvignon Blanc is the 8th most planted wine grape variety planted in the world overall (3rd among white varieties). Its vines can be found growing everywhere from France and New Zealand to Austria’s Steiermark region to Turkey’s Güney plateau to the Uruguayan Coast . 3. Sauvignon Blanc, however, originates in France – most likely in the Loire Valley , where it achieves its most classic expression in the wines of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé . The grape is also a chief ingredient in the white wines of Bordeaux . Oddly enough, neither the Loire nor Bordeaux grow the most Sauvignon Blanc in France. That title goes to Languedoc-Roussillon , where Sauvignon Blanc often contributes to simpler white wines. 4. Sauvignon Blanc is commonly bottled as a mono-varietal wine, but when it’s blended, its most famous partner-in-crime is Sémillon . Together, they comprise Bordeaux’s two most important white grapes. They complement each other well. Sauvignon Blanc’s grassiness and zippy acidity are tempered by Sémillon’s rounder, more waxen texture. 5. Speaking of Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc isn’t always made into a dry wine. Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon are the backbone to Sauternes , Bordeaux’s treasured sweet wine, and one of the greatest in the world. In Sauternes, a fungus called “Botrytis cinerea,” more poetically known as “Noble Rot,” sweeps the vineyards to shrivel the grapes and concentrate their sugars. 6. Sauvignon Blanc may be white, but its prodigal child is red. A 1996 study at UC Davis performed by Carole Meredith revealed Cabernet Sauvignon to be the genetic progeny of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc – a spontaneous crossing that likely transpired near Bordeaux before the mid 1700s. 7. Sauvignon Blanc famously displays a grassy, herbaceous (and for some polarizing) green character, with tasting notes such as “gooseberry” and “bell pepper.” These flavors are attributed to a series of compounds called “methoxypyrazines” (or simply “pyrazines”). Pyrazinic flavors are typically more pronounced in wines from cooler regions, and they can similarly be traced in Cabernet Sauvignon. 8. Another common descriptor for Sauvignon Blanc? “Cat’s pee.” Yes, you’ve read that correctly – and while “cat’s pee” may certainly sound unappetizing, it’s not necessarily meant to be pejorative. The flavor is derived from volatile thiols - compounds that develop from dead yeasts reacting with sulfur post-fermentation. 9. While France may lay claim as Sauvignon Blanc’s ancestral home, its New World champion is New Zealand . New Zealand grows much more Sauvignon Blanc than any other grape – particularly in Marlborough – but the variety’s history in New Zealand is relatively recent. Montana (now called Brancott Estate) first brought Sauvignon Blanc to the area in the 1970s, vinifying the first ever Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc in 1979. 10. Sauvignon Blanc can also produce tremendous wines in California , but a handful of producers use its alias “Fumé Blanc.” Robert Mondavi was the first to market his wines with that name – a portmanteau of Pouilly-Fumé and Sauvignon Blanc – in an attempt to dodge the more negative reputation that Sauvignon Blanc held at the time. Robert Mondavi Winery also happens to own the oldest Sauvignon Blanc vines in the Americas, the I-Block, planted in 1945, within the world-renowned To Kalon Vineyard. — Bryce Wiatrak Have you enjoyed a glass of Sauvignon Blanc recently? We want to see what you’re drinking! Scan the label or search by name to add your tasting notes on Delectable.

Domaine Pascal Cotat

La Grande Côte Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Carson Gray
9.4

Intense mineral and citrus notes on the nose followed by Stone fruit and fresh cut white flowers. The palate is full of bright citrus, green apple, under ripe pineapple and inorganic earth followed by racing acidity. Finish is long and clean — 3 years ago

Château Guiraud

Sauternes Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend 2007

Apricot nectar, honeysuckle, tangerine, glazed dried fruits and marmalade. Expressing such balance, a joy to drink — 3 years ago

La liked this

Dog Point Vineyard

Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Dog Point Vineyard combines experience of Ivan and Margaret Sutherland & James and Wendy Healy. Ivan and James met while working at Cloudy Bay Vineyards. Light straw with typical SB aromas adding a touch of smoky mineral character. On the palate melon and grapefruit with lemon/lime notes, generous acidity, great mouthfeel with lingering finish ending with an earthy tone. Exceptional value! — 2 years ago

Velma, David and 3 others liked this

Merry Edwards

Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Shay A
9.3

Halfway through my work conference here in San Francisco, and we wanted to make our way to the piers for dinner one night and get some prime seafood. I’m with 3 co-workers who know nothing about wine, so I ordered this. Every single person tasted and said “holy smokes, I didn’t know white wine could taste this good”. Merry Edwards SB is a crowd pleaser. Not a massive citrus bomb, with flavorful savory notes of wet rock and limestone. Perfect for seafood. 👌 — 2 years ago

Severn, P and 53 others liked this
Hugh O'Riordan

Hugh O'Riordan

I really enjoy merry edwards wines.
Peggy Hadley

Peggy Hadley

We love Mary Edwards too.
michael pandolfo

michael pandolfo

Very under the radar wine. Amazing juice!!

Lucien Crochet

Le Chêne Marchand Sancerre Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Incredible wine. Pure white flower with honeysuckle. Perfect weight with a flint aspect in the back. Single vineyard and worth the search for this bottle! — 2 years ago

La liked this

Château d'Yquem

Sauternes Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend 2011

Gary Westby
10

One of the biggest names in wine and this 2011 lives up to the huge expectations. Creme brûlée, tart apricot, authoritative viscosity, clean super sweet botrytis and a near endless, lifted finish... All it needs is decades! — 5 years ago

Anthony, Christopher and 8 others liked this
Doug Burress

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Nice! The bottle is almost gone! Dessert wine fans on Saturday!

Astrolabe Wines

Province Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2015

I loved the assertive grapefruit and Meyer lemon that hit first. There's also medium acidity to balance the fruit and chalky, steely dry minerality. Flowers and herbs sneak into the aroma. Tropical fruits develop. This was an excellent match for roasted halibut and asparagus with spaghetti simply dressed with olive oil, garlic, and cilantro. — 3 years ago

Jesse liked this

Château Carbonnieux

Pessac-Léognan Sémillon-Sauvignon Blanc Blend 2013

Vintage 2013 - I have rarely experienced gooseberry só clear. Tropical fruit. Nice acidity packed in refinement. Gives joy! — 2 years ago

Diederick, Drew and 19 others liked this
David T

David T Influencer Badge

Good value given how some other Chateaus price their whites.

Guilhem et Jean Hugues Goisot

Exogyra Virgula Saint-Bris Sauvignon Blanc 2015

Greg Ballington
9.0

Light to medium pale yellow. Fresh nose with tropical fruits, honeysuckle, white floral notes and a touch of white stones. Medium acidity (6/10) and light bodied. Fresh and light on the palate with tropical fruits, a bit green apples too. Long finish. Drink till 2023. — 2 years ago

India Okoh
with India
Shawn, Kim and 16 others liked this

Lieu Dit

Santa Ynez Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Wow. Stunning aromatics of flowers and the fleshiest perfectly ripe pink grapefruit. Palate of fresh pear flowers, and grapefruit with amazingly sleek texture and complete palate presence. Best CA Sauv blanc I've had! — 4 years ago

LM, Marc and 3 others liked this
Gerald Montoya

Gerald Montoya Influencer Badge

.... Not.
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