Saovignon Blanc is an aromatic grape,
which ripens early and is mostly grown in cool-climate vineyards. Its
range extends from featherweight, tangy, dry white wines like Sauvignon
de Touraine, to the ripe, almost tropical-like fruitiness obtained in
California, where the less common addition of oak is often adopted and
labeled 'Fumé Blanc'. Sauvignon Blanc thrives on chalk or gravel soils.
In France, Sauvignon Blanc finds its
greatest expression at the eastern end of the Loire Valley, at Sancerre
and Pouilly Fume (Pouilly Sur Loire), but this is matched in New
Zealand, particularly in the Marlborough district. The New Zealand style
- all the rage today - offers a stunning combination of zesty fruit and
richer melon undertones which burst into action as soon as the cork is
drawn, or indeed the cap is loosened.
In Bordeaux, a few chateaux, such as La
Mission Haut-Brion and Domaine de Chavalier, lavish attention on
Sauvignon, carefully blending it with Sémillon and ageing the blend in
oak. These rich, lanolin-textured wines are allowed to age for decades,
but most Sauvignon Blancs are consumed as young wines. Sauvignon Blanc
can play an extremely important supporting role to Sémillon, in both dry
and sweet wines. This is particularly the case in Bordeaux, as Sémillon,
naturally low in acidity, gains a fresh and youthful attribute from its
The Sauvignon Blanc grape is grown in the
Loire and St Bris (Northern Burgundy) in France, New Zealand, USA,
Western and South Australia, South Africa and Chile.