Varietals - Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc

A unique bouquet of fresh herbs and freshly cut grass are matched with floral, melon and peach components in the best examples. Its higher acidity makes this grape a great foil with rich dishes and challenging sauces.

Sauvignon Blanc needs plenty of sun to ripen correctly. If not, its fresh cut grass aroma and flavor turn to wet, moldy grass. May be the one grapes that excels in more diverse areas than any other, particularly the Loire Valley, New Zealand, South Africa, California and Austria.



Considered by many to be California's finest white grape. It certainly is one of its most ubiquitous. Outstanding examples come from Napa, Sonoma and Santa Barbara counties. Many are labeled Fumé Blanc which means white smoke in French and was coined by Robert Mondavi in the 60s after visiting Pouilly Fumé and tasting the outstanding wines made from Sauvignon Blanc there. Feeling that people might confuse the name with Cabernet Sauvignon (this was the 60s, you know) he came up Fumé Blanc and many still use it.


Almost exclusively the province of the eastern Loire around the villages of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé. Normally hard and steely in their youth, the wines age beautifully in 3-6 years, many longer. Striking acidity balanced by peach nectar, gravel, a very unique flinty character and a clean grassyness makes this a great wine with rich shellfish dishes.


Usually called Sauvignon, it is primarily grown in the northeast and makes a simpler styled wine.

New Zealand

From 1990 to 2000, New Zealand jumped to the number 2 position in the minds and glasses of Sauvignon Blanc lovers around the globe. While sharing many of the qualities of Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé, New Zealand's Hawks Bay and Marlborough have carved a name for themselves with the unique white grape and gooseberry flavors which abound in their best offerings.

South Africa

Another area quickly making a name for itself with this imposing grape. With not quite the fruit of the California versions nor the acids of France and California, South Africa's offering bridge the two while delivering a rich, heady experience in their best offerings. Most offer exceedingly good value as well.

South America

A few excellent examples from Chile that are normally non-oaked and with good acidity.

United States

No area other than California seems to be able to ripen it.

Other Regions

Austria's warmer Bergunland is home to some of the finest Sauvignon Blanc in both Austria and the rest of the world. Combining both ripeness and stinging acidity, Austria's versions must be taken seriously and offer a sublime experience from the top producers.