Description 1 of 2

(aka. Blanc Fume, Fume Blanc, Savagnin Musque)

Sauvignon Blanc is widely grown in California -- at over 15,000 acres, it’s now the third most planted variety -- and often assumes the moniker ‘Fume Blanc’. This popular synonym, credited to Napa’s Robert Mondavi, derives from the grape’s historic home of Pouilly in France’s Upper Loire Valley, where Sauvignon Blanc is the dominant varietal and goes locally by the name of ‘Blanc Fumé’. This noble grape is also successfully grown in Washington State and in New York on Long Island. In Canada, the variety is establishing a foothold in both the Niagara region of Ontario and British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley.

When treated with respect and afforded suitable growing conditions, it is one of the wine world’s darlings. Dry wines made from this grape are characterized by steely, racy acidity, green, gooseberry fruit, asparagus and a grassy, herbaceous character. It is rarely oaked, except in California, where it has often been subjected to such extreme winemaking as new oak, extended lees contact and malolactic fermentation. Here, it produces a tropical, buttery style of Sauvignon Blanc. However, California producers are increasingly using less oak, to create more naturally expressive wines.

In France’s Pouilly Fume, the grape expresses its most subtle complexity, with the best wines grown on limestone hills with a high proportion of flint, said to give the wines a gun smoke (flinty) aroma. Elsewhere in France, namely Bordeaux’s Graves and Entre-Deux-Mers regions, Sauvignon Blanc has had a long, if uneven, history. Here, the variety co-stars with another white, the more supple Semillon, in addition to a minor supportive role played by the more perfumed Muscadelle. In Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc not only makes dry wines, it plays an important, albeit subsidiary role, in the highly-prized sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac. In these lavishly rich wines, its sharp acidity helps to balance the round and almost waxy nature of botrytis-affected Semillon.

Across the border in Italy, producers such as Jermann, Schiopetto and Livio Fellugia have made Collio and the Colli Orientali DOCs famous with their impressively expressive versions of Sauvigon Blanc.

Sauvignon Blanc has also found a home in the southern hemisphere, most notably the Marlborough region of New Zealand’s South Island where they have fashioned a modern style of this classic, profiling a more fruit driven tropical expression of the grape. Indeed, the Sauvignon Blancs of New Zealand can stun the uninitiated with their intensity, and may seem an altogether different wine than the traditional grassy or flinty versions. Typical examples have powerful aromatics with classic gooseberry fruit, and freshly-mown grass elements, complimented by rich tropical fruit salad aromas. They are matched with richly characterful palates and tart, edgy acidity. Marlborough’s advantage over competing growing regions is its long, sunny growing season, with dry autumns and cool nights. The grapes are allowed to ripen on the vine much longer here than elsewhere, enabling fruit intensity to be maximized. Meanwhile, the area’s cool nights retain the grape’s natural and balancing, razor-sharp acidity. The Kiwis can also be credited with implementing modern and effective methods of canopy management, keeping crop levels to a minimum and picking the grapes at varying times to create more complex wines.

Sauvignon Blanc is produced as a dry wine in all corners of the wine world. Even if you cross the Tasman Sea, from New Zealand to its brasher antipodal neighbor Australia, the grape is successful. Cool corners of Australia, such as the Yarra Valley in Victoria, are showing potential with Sauvignon Blanc based wines, even if they rarely produce wine with the same edge as their Kiwi counterparts. South Africa also produces reliably characterful Sauvignon-based wines, as does Chile’s cool Casablanca Valley.


You are one sexy gal, Sauvignon Blanc, trotting joyously through fields of grass, with your long, blond tresses blowing in the breeze. We envision you with leis of wild flowers and gooseberries bouncing on your bosoms; you absorb all the herbal essences around you. You are young and fresh - crisp even - with taut skin and daring spunk. You have the steely courage to bound up to us bare-naked. Yet when you do don cloths of oak you present yourself in a most exotic way. However, most would agree that you are best au naturel! – Description from Appellation America (view original content)

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Description 2 of 2

 

Name of varietal: Sauvignon Blanc
 
Common synonyms: Fume Blanc, Surin, Muskat-Silvaner
 
Parentage of the grape: indigenous to either the Loire or Bordeaux, France
 
History of the grape: Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most widely planted white grapes in the world. The name is a combination of the words “sauvage” (“wild”) and “blanc” (‘white”), suggesting its native origins in France that go back many centuries. 
 
Depending on its origin and climate, Sauvignon Blanc is a versatile grape that lends itself to a wide variety of styles. In the Loire Valley of France, it is the star white grape comprising 100% of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé, most often produced without oak aging. In Bordeaux, it is commonly blended with Semillon in dry whites, and the prized Botrytis (“noble rot”) late harvest dessert wines of Sauternes, both commonly aged with judicious use of oak. 
 
In places like New Zealand, producers play on the varietal’s inherent grassy and fruity characteristics, and the wines are even placed in high regard for unmistakable “cat piss” aromas (if you go in for that sort of thing). 
 
In mid 1960s California, there was a movement started by Robert Mondavi to call it “Fume Blanc” because he assumed “Sauvignon” sounded too “continental” for the US market (but still referring to its Pouilly Fumé pedigree). Certain commercial wineries still insist on using that name, though in recent decades, there has been a distinct shift to defer to its original name for the sake of street cred. Regardless, it is the second most popular white grape grown there next to Chardonnay, and is produced from bone dry to fruity, to all stainless to heavily oaked aging, to dessert wine depending on the preferences of its producer. 
 
Despite the wide range of styles, Sauvignon Blanc has some distinctive characteristics that are hard to miss. 
 
Characteristics of the grape: as a dry wine: grassy, grapefruit rind, amonia (cat piss), weeds, bell pepper, lime, melon, flint. Aged in oak it takes on more vanilla, sesame and toast flavors and aromas. As a dessert wine, it becomes honeyed, with flavors of apricots, figs, burnt sugar and creamy vanilla.
 
Regions where the grape is currently important: France: Bordeaux, Loire Valley; New Zealand, California, Australia, Argentina, Chile, Oregon, Washington, New York, Virginia, South Africa, Italy, Greece, Spain. 
 
Type or types of wines the grape produces: dry white, dessert
– Description from Amanda Schuster

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