Looking for a Sauvignon blanc Price guide? If you absolutely love the high-acidity and citrusy flavors of this wine, here’s what you need to know. When you pour a glass of wine, the first thing you notice is the color, but the first element you fall in love with is its aromatics.
Sauvignon blanc is an extremely aromatic wine, but those aromatics can vary immensely depending on where it is grown and how it is cellared. First documented in the Loire Valley, the name comes from an amalgamation of sauvage (“wild”) and vigne (“vine.”)
Sauvignon blanc can be found in most wine-growing regions, including France, Chile, Romania, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Bulgaria. Within the United States, Oregon, Washington, and California have the highest plantings.
Sauvignon blanc is one of the most widely planted varieties in the world. According to the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) Sauvignon blanc’s plantings are on the rise. In 2015, there were 303,939 acres planted while in 2021, the number rose to 756,142.
It is one of the top three varieties experiencing the most growth over the last 15 in France, Romania, Greece, Chile, and New Zealand. Each region has its own “twist” on Sauvignon blanc.
The wine produced from the Sancerre region of France will be extremely different from the wine made in New Zealand.
From a Parent of Similar Name
Originally known as “Fiers” Sauvignon blanc’s history dates back to the 1500s. While one parent is still unknown, the similar sounding ancient grape Savagnin has been determined to be the other parent.
Although not commonly bottled, Savagnin can be found in the Jura region in Eastern France. The ability to vary greatly in character as well as being highly aromatic was passed down to its offspring.
Sauvignon blanc is related to other aromatic white grape varieties: Grüner Veltliner, Chenin Blanc, Silvaner, and Verdelho. It is known to grow a bit vigorously, similar to wild grapevines. In fact, the leaves themselves are similar to wild grapevines. (Vitis spp.)
Although the Loire Valley is the first region to document Sauvignon blanc, the grape itself, because of its ancestry, is thought to have originated near the Alps. The vines grew wild until winemakers discovered them and “tamed” them.
From the Loire Valley, it is believed that Sauvignon blanc found its way to Bordeaux. It was here that around 1750, it naturally crossed with Cabernet Franc to give rise to Cabernet Sauvignon.
Prior to the DNA analysis of Cabernet Sauvignon, it was not thought that a white grape variety could give rise to a red grape. In the 1880s, thanks to Charles Wetmore, Sauvignon blanc found its way to California via Château d’Yquem.
He brought the famous Château’s clippings to the Livermore Valley, where they flourished.
Controlling the Vine From External Forces
Although Sauvignon blanc can grow in both warm and cool climates, the aromatics tend to be more muted in the warmer regions. The characteristics the fruit displays is highly dependent on the amount of sunlight the vine sees.
Vines that are grown in the shade will lend themselves to greener flavors, while those grown in more sun will provide tropical flavors. Since the vines have a tendency to be vigorous, careful consideration needs to be taken when plantings are done.
Overly fertile soil can be disastrous to the quality of the grapes. Since the clusters are susceptible to powdery mildew, black rot, and botrytis, vineyard managers often heavily prune in order to increase airflow.
The grapes of Sauvignon blanc are pale green, ultimately lending themselves to the production of a pale straw-colored wine. The buds tend to break late but the berries ripen early. The vines need consistent sunshine and modest temperatures.
Cooler climates are required in order to ripen and maintain their aromatics and acidity. The berries tend to be small and extremely tight, leading to disease susceptibility.
The Popularity of This Wine Around the World
Today, Sauvignon blanc flourishes in most cool wine-growing regions. The top growing regions are France, Chile, and New Zealand. Within France, Sauvignon blanc is most common in Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé and Bordeaux.
Even within the same country, Sauvignon blanc displays a variety of characteristics. Wine from the Loire Valley will provide white peach, fennel, lemongrass, and ruby red grapefruit properties, whereas in Bordeaux it is lighter with lemon pith, grass, and a minerality.
The majority of Sauvignon blanc in Chile can be found in the Costa areas near the ocean. The vineyards benefit from the proximity to the ocean and the wine exhibits characteristics of grass, lime juice, green banana, and pineapple.
South African regions such as Stellenbosch, Franschhoek, and Elgin produce oak-aged Sauvignon blanc, which results in a fuller-bodied wine with beeswax, jasmine flowers, honeysuckle flavors.
In Italy, you can enjoy a glass of “Sauvignon” in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. Here you will find pronounced aromatics of gooseberry, white peach, pear, and orange blossom. Undoubtedly, Sauvignon blanc has found its true home in New Zealand.
The undeniably bright grapefruit and crisp acidity have made the grape synonymous with the region. In fact, 62% of all wine produced in New Zealand is made in Marlborough and is Sauvignon blanc.
Change the Name and People Will Come
Prior to the 1960s, Sauvignon blanc’s future was bleak in the United States. At this time, Sauvignon blanc was primarily a mass-produced sweet wine. It was not highly looked upon as an enjoyable wine.
However, Robert Mondavi loved the Sauvignon blanc from the Loire Valley. The wine’s crisp acidity, high aromatics, and ability to pair with an array of foods was something that he felt could sell in the United States.
Mondavi knew that it wouldn’t be easy to change people’s perceptions, so instead, he chose to change the name. He created the name Fumé Blanc. A name derived from a combination of Sauvignon blanc and Pouilly-Fumé.
The term fumé means “smoky,” and Mondavi felt this was a perfect descriptor for his version of the grape since it had an herbal note with a hint of grass to it.
And then there’s Sauternes
Not all Sauvignon blanc is dry. Some of the best is made in the Sauternes region of Bordeaux, France. Wine in this region is made from sémillon, sauvignon blanc, and muscadelle grapes that have been affected by the fungus Botrytis cinerea, also known as noble rot.
It is in this region that the Premier Cru Supérieur estate Château d’Yquem resides. As mentioned earlier, one of the concerns of growing Sauvignon blanc is its susceptibility to rot, but in Sauternes, that is exactly what they hope happens.
Botrytis causes the grapes to shrivel and, in turn, increases the concentration of flavors within the berries. The result is an intoxicatingly sweet, highly acidic wine with flavors of nuts, apricots, and honey. The wines are typically sold in 375ml bottles (half bottles.)
Sauvignon Blanc Price Guide – Recommended Wines from Wine Enthusiast
|Year||Region||Name||Alcohol Content||Average Price||Rating|
|2017||Marlborough, NZ||Churton Best End Sauvignon blanc||13.5%||$37||93 Points|
|2020||Graves, France||Château Langlet Sauvignon Blanc||13.5%||$35||90 Points|
|2020||North Coast, California||Benziger Sauvignon blanc||13%||$16||90 Points|
Churton Best End Sauvignon blanc
It’s not often one sees a Marlborough Sauvignon with bottle age, which is unfortunate as they can age well. From biodynamic producer Churton, this five-year-old wine is pale gold and shows notes of elderflower, black currant leaf, red apple, a little grass, and a toffee-like character at the back.
The mouthfeel is fresh, with bright fruit, tingly acidity, and a lovely chalky texture. There’s lovely length and layers of flavor. A well-composed wine with personality and class. CHRISTINA PICKARD
Château Langlet Sauvignon blanc
Owned by the Kressmann family since 1999, this estate is in the northern Graves, close to Bordeaux city. The intense herbal character and tight texture promise a balanced ripeness that will come through as the wine softens. Drink now. ROGER VOSS
Benziger Sauvignon blanc
This white offers a nice blend of ripe grapefruit and snap pea flavors braced by crisp acidity. It pleasantly shows the inherent herbal and citrus qualities of the grape variety. JIM GORDON
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How can I find which Sauvignon blanc style I like the best?
A fun experiment to see the range of Sauvignon blanc expressions is to find a bottle from Pessac-Léognan, Sancerre, Napa Valley, and Marlborough.
2. What is the best temperature to serve Sauvignon blanc?
Sauvignon blanc is typically a dry white wine. It is best served chilled (45-50o) To get this temperature, be sure to place it in the refrigerator for about 40 minutes prior to serving.
3. Do I need a special glass to drink Sauvignon blanc?
Although it is unnecessary to purchase special glassware, look for a glass that tapers towards the opening of the glass. This will contain the aromas, allowing you to enjoy all the beautiful aromatics.
4. What food goes well with Sauvignon blanc?
Sauvignon blanc is pretty versatile thanks to its acidity. When choosing foods, think lighter fish such as salmon or crustaceans like lobster.
Vegetarians can rejoice because Sauvignon blanc pairs well with most vegetables, even the dreaded asparagus!