Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc
(Andrew and Carrie Purcell)

[SO-vee-nyon Blahnk]

Characteristics

Sauvignon Blanc is historically connected to two French winemaking regions: the Loire Valley and Bordeaux. It most likely originated in the former, which today still makes single-variety expressions to global acclaim. In Bordeaux, where the grape's roots also run centuries deep, winemakers blend Sauvignon Blanc with Sémillon and small percentages of Muscadelle for dry whites and, in the Sauternes and Barsac appellations, world-renowned botrytized dessert wines.

Sauvignon Blanc was planted in New Zealand starting in the 1970s; it has since skyrocketed in popularity in the U.S. and worldwide, and is the country's signature grape today. It was also popularized in California in the 1980s, where Robert Mondavi dubbed it "Fumé Blanc" (inspired by the Loire's Pouilly-Fumé appellation). These versions saw hefty oak influence, but these days, few California producers still use this term or make this style.

Sauvignon Blanc is early- to mid-ripening, and grows best in limestone soils and relatively cool climates. The archetype dry Sauvignon Blancs are those of the Loire Valley's Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé appellations—these are citrusy whites with herbal and mineral notes. White Bordeauxs can see some oak aging, lending a rounder, riper profile. California bottlings mix ripe, fleshy textures with stone and sometimes tropical fruit flavors. Typical New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are made in a light, zingy style full of citrus and aromatic herbal notes like lemongrass.

Where it's grown

A map of the world with France, New Zealand, California, South Africa, Italy, Austria and Australia highlighted
Map by Henry Eng
France: Loire Valley’s Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé; Bordeaux’s Pessac-Léognan, Sauternes, Barsac and Entre-Deux-Mers
New Zealand: Marlborough
California: Sonoma
Italy: Friuli Venezia-Giulia
Austria: Styria

Sauvignon Blanc icons

  • Loire: Henri Bourgeois, Didier Dagueneau, Pascal Jolivet
  • New Zealand: Cloudy Bay, Craggy Range, Kim Crawford, Greywacke
  • California: Merry Edwards

Suggested food pairings

  • Loire (dry): fresh asparagus salad
  • Loire (sweet): foie gras
  • New Zealand: cod en papillote with lemon and grilled vegetables

Sauvignon Blanc fans may also like

Know Your Grapes White Wines Sauvignon Blanc France Loire Valley New Zealand

You Might Also Like

Zinfandel

Zinfandel

The quintessential American red variety in fact originated in a southeastern European …

Jul 21, 2019
Viognier

Viognier

Packed with aromatic flavor and personality, Viognier makes lauded whites from France, …

Jul 21, 2019
Tempranillo

Tempranillo

The entire Spanish wine scene would not be the same without the indigenous Tempranillo …

Jul 21, 2019
Syrah

Syrah

Syrah still shines in its Rhône Valley homeland, but has also gained glory in intriguing …

Jul 21, 2019
Sangiovese

Sangiovese

The storied Sangiovese grape is behind Italian legends like Brunello di Montalcino and …

Jul 21, 2019
Riesling

Riesling

From bone-dry to lusciously sweet, the versatile Riesling grape can do it all in Germany, …

Jul 21, 2019
WineRatings+

WineRatings+

Xvalues

Xvalues

Restaurant Search

Restaurant Search