Maryland's Premiere Women's Wine Tasting Club



Slammin’ Sauv Blanc! | June 2017


Sauvignon Blanc is a grape that produces some of the world’s most popular and distinctive white wines. This refreshing white always hits the spot on warm summer evenings, and is particularly apt for light food pairings. The Sauvignon Blanc grape is known for producing wines that are zippy, light-bodied, dry, and citrusy. Sauvignon Blancs are always highly reflective of the terroir that they came from. While all good juice made from this varietal is highly expressive, these expressions can range from tropical-fruited with bright citrus flavors, to grassy with fresh herbal tones and complex minerality.

Of course, we can go on and on about how tasty good Sauvignon Blanc is, but what makes this wine a bit of a minefield is that poorly made Sauvignon Blanc can be pretty awful. Sauvignon naturally leans toward vegetal and herbaceous tones. In good Sauvignon this comes off as notes of fresh cut grass and snow peas. But an underripe Sauvignon may be pungent, like the water left from boiling artichokes—ick! So if you’ve been turned off to Sauvignon Blanc in the past, we urge you to give it another chance. You may not like them all, but with so many different styles – and, of course, with our impeccable taste guiding your way - you’re sure to find something you enjoy!

Where the Grape is Grown
Loire Valley

Some of the world’s most spectacular Sauvignon Blancs come from the Loire Valley of France. These wines bear regional names, so you won’t find the name of the grape on the label. But if you enjoy crisp, focused Sauvignon unmasked by oak, seek out wines from Sancerre, Touraine, and Pouilly-Fumé. (Not to be confused with Burgundy’s Pouilly-Fuissé, which is made from Chardonnay).Wines from these areas are particularly elegant and vibrant, with a complex mineral character that really makes them stand out.

While Bordeaux is most famous for their red wines, the region produces whites as well! White Bordeaux are made from a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and a rich, creamy white grape called Semillon. Showing almost diametrically opposite profiles, the two grapes complement each other perfectly: Aromatic, rich Semillon adds weight and balances Sauvignon’s crisp acidity, with honeyed notes softening the sharp citrus flavors.

The New World:
New Zealand:
New Zealand’s South Island, especially Marlborough, has become one of the world’s favorite go-to regions for Sauvignon Blanc. These are very extroverted examples that often show a tropical backdrop, hinting at mango and passion fruit with loads and lots of forward grapefruit character. These wines tend to be extra zesty, with herbal tones of freshly cut grass.

Californian Sauvignon Blancs are fruit-forward and often see a bit of oak. These begin to lean toward notes of fig and melon and tend to be rounder with relatively low acidity. You may be familiar with a wine called “Fumé Blanc.” This name for Sauvignon Blanc was invented by Robert Mondavi, but numerous Californian and Chilean Sauvignons are still labeled “Fumé Blanc.”

And Beyond: Sauvignon Blanc is also grown in South Africa, Australia, Spain, Italy, Austria, Chile, and more!

Pairing the Wine with Food
Sauvignon Blanc’s acidity makes it very flexible with foods. One of the major classic food and wine pairings that is so good it must be tasted to be believed is chèvre (fresh goat cheese) with a chilled glass of Sauvignon, particularly one from the Loire Valley. Since it’s light-bodied and citrusy, this wine is also terrific with seafood and white flaky fish – basically, anything that you’d squeeze lemon onto. Sauvignon Blanc is also one of the best wines to tackle difficult-to-pair vegetables with strong green flavors such as asparagus and broccoli.

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