Grape Variety Profile – Sauvignon Blanc

Along with Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc is a member of the Bordeaux blanc family. They complement each other when blended together, but also make great wines on their own.  As a singer, Sauvignon Blanc would be Adam Levine of Maroon 5.  A crisp white shirt lends an air of polish to event the edgier rock stars, covering the tatts and chains. So too is the versatility of edgy Sauvignon Blanc. From dry, tart, and mouth – puckering to rich, creamy, and toasty, and even to dessert wines, there is a Sauvignon Blanc for every taste and budget.

Its methoxypyrazines (flavor compounds) manifest themselves as grassy, herbaceous, even cat pee-like aromas at their most pungent. The riper the grape, the more the flavors move into the melon, peach, and tropical fruit spectrum. At their best, Sauvignon Blancs are zesty, zingy, and vibrant, with lots of citrus notes.

Sauvignon Blanc was not considered a great wine until Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé (say “pwee foo may”)  were “discovered” in Paris in the1960’s. Smoky, flinty Pouilly-Fumé and lighter, tarter Sancerre from chalky soils in the Loire Valley are classic French aperitifs. Northern Italy and Austria produce lean, racy styles. South Africa, California and Chile are turning out an impressive range in all styles and price points as well, following the tremendous success of the vibrant, flavorful New Zealand versions. Those of Chile are of particularly good value right now.

Old World Sauvignon Blanc such as Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé  pairs nicely with chevre (goat cheese),a  shellfish platter, or fresh Salmon with dill butter.  New world Sauvignon Blanc is delicious and refreshing with a sweet and spicy lobster salad with cilantro,  chipotle and pico de gallo, Fritto Misto, fish and chips, lemon chicken, or Emmentaler cheese. Marissa Lange of Lange Twins recommends her Sauvignon Blanc with Basil Butter popcorn.

Grape Goddess® recommends:Grape Variety Profile - Sauvignon Blanc

Sancerre, Loire Valley France

2011 Jean Reverdy La Reine Blanche Sancerre $23.95

This light, delicate expression of the Sauvignon Blanc offers notes of white rose and acacia blossom, lemon verbena, yellow delicious apple, and crushed sage along with its trademark chalky minerality. It has vibrant, juicy acidity and is ideal as an aperitif. 

Grape Variety Profile - Sauvignon Blanc 2Chile

Crucero Sauvignon Blanc Reserva Leyda Valley Chile $18

Leyda Valley is south of Casablanca Valley and adjacent to San Antonio Valley. These coastal valleys are ideal for producing crisp, Sancerre-like wines. This  wine leans a bit riper than others from this area, adding pineapple and kiwi to the mix, but it is clean, fresh, slightly herbacious, and zesty, with a mouth-cleansing acidity.


Grape Variety Profile - Sauvignon Blanc 3California

Lange Twins Musque Clone Sauvignon Blanc Lodi $18

The Musque, or “aromatic”  clone of Sauvignon Blanc is rare, with just a handful of growers in the state still planting it. Most have abandoned this clone to go with something that packs a bigger fruit punch. Here, the fruit is fresh but restrained,  there is a lovely floral perfume, a round, creamy palate, and a pleasant, lingering minerality. It is neither grassy nor tropical, so it is a nice change of pace from the popular and sometimes overdone New Zealand style.

Excerpted from the Six Week Wine Expert, Catherine’s “super cool online wine course,” available at Planet Grape Wine School,

Which Rock Star would you associate with Sauvignon Blanc?  What are some of  your favorite food pairings with this variety?

Learn the origins, other homes and characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc in our Sauvignon Blancs of The World Workshop.

Check out our full schedule of programs, workshops and public events. Private, customized experiences and corporate training is also available.

Reading next