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The Sauvignon Blanc Trend

March 5, 2024 Vitis House

Spring brings aromatic and high acid varietals to the glass.

Sauvignon Blanc produces crisp, dry, aromatic white wines, and believe it or not, it has emerged as one of the fastest-growing wine varietals in the U.S. Apparently, wine drinkers’ preferences are shifting towards lighter and crisper wines instead of the medium-bodied and heavily oaked whites, like California Chardonnay.

Robert Mondavi was among the pioneering producers in California, but he chose to label it as Fumé Blanc, inspired by the Pouilly-Fumé AOC region in the Loire Valley, made solely from Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

This French grape, originally from the Loire Valley, is one of the most refreshing, consistent, and reasonably priced whites.

Most Sauvignon Blanc is fermented at relatively low temperatures in stainless steel with the intention of preserving every bit of youthful fruit, but a few “rare” examples will have some oak and might last 2-3 years. The acidity can be affected by oak aging or bâtonnage —the stirring of the lees— which lends the wine a creamier texture. Blends are common, particularly with Semillon and Muscadelle in France (for dry and sweet wines), Verdejo in Spain (only dry), and sometimes with Chardonnay in other regions. Remember, it will always bring acidity and aromas to any blend.

What Does Sauvignon Blanc Taste Like?
Typically, it showcases rich herbaceous notes of grass, bell peppers, and asparagus. You’ll also notice a fruity medley ranging from grapefruit, kumquat, and gooseberries to smooth stone and tropical fruits. The warmer the climate, the more tropical notes on the nose. This grape is considered an aromatic varietal, and its high acidity is responsible for its refreshing character.

But which region should I taste?
You have a homework! You will need to taste them all to decide which region is producing your favorite one:

Loire Valley, France (cool climate)
The most elegant and world-renowned comes from Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, with lime, green grass, chalky minerals and honeydew melon notes. The ones from Menetou-Salon and Tourraine can be very wallet friendly.

New Zealand (cool climate)
Its flagship variety, primarily in the Marlborough region. Here this variety has a different personality, a whole new level of aromatics and flavor intensity. Expect pungent aromas and flavors of passion fruit, gooseberry, elderflower, and green pepper.

Best examples comes from the northern hilly regions of: Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige and Colli Orientali del Friuli.  They are very delicate.

South Africa
The best examples come from cooler regions like Stellenbosch, with pure citrus and green fruit flavors. In the Cape South Coast is well-known for a more pungent and herbaceous expression.

In cooler vineyards in the coastal region of Casablanca, this grape exhibits notes of concentrated citrus, ripe apple, peach, and occasionally herbaceous aromas.

Adelaide Hills has a reputation for quality wines because the vineyards here are cooled by altitude, showcasing intense passion fruit flavors. In Margaret River, it is often blended with Semillon and may have some oak influence.

California & Washington
They produce wines that are juicy with citrus and tropical notes and flavors. The cooler the site, better the chances to find quality wines here.

Perú & Baja California (México)
Believe it not this grape is widely planted in high altitude vineyards.  Hard to find in the US, but they’ve been producing it for a while.  Let’s see what future brings to them.

One of the best ways to sharpen your understanding of wines is to compare wines from different regions side-by-side. It’s also fun if you do it with friends!



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