Josiah Kahiu is here to tell you everything you need to know about Sauvignon Blanc
Considered as one of the world’s most popular grape varieties, Sauvignon Blanc is known for its refreshing, sharp, herbaceous profile due to a combination of high acidity, and low amounts of sugar.
This characteristically piercingly aromatic, refreshing and best drunk relatively young grape, varietal hails from France, specifically Bordeaux and the Loire. In France, it is thought that the name originated from the word Sauvage which means wild as the grapes grew like weeds in the region. Considered as one of the worlds most reliable varietal wines to drink, Sauvignon Blanc is grown in most of the wine producing regions of the world accounting for its wide range and styles.
From the birthplace in Bordeaux, the varietal started to be cultivated in the Loire, specifically Sancerre (“san-SER”) where it was used to produce a single varietal wine, which they chose to name Sancerre after the region. Here is when it grew in popularity as they used it to produce a relatively sweet easy-to-drink wine.
From the pubs and bistros in France, the grape traversed the globe including a stopover in New Zealand where it found a place to really thrive. New Zealand is surprisingly the place where the grape managed to make itself globally renowned in the global wine industry. Before the 1980’s, if you mentioned the name Sauvignon Blanc, most people would associate it with the name Sancerre. It was New Zealand that brought it to the international forefront due to its crisp, refreshing taste and most of all – affordability. After New Zealand started producing good quality wines, the other wine growing blocks took notice and cultivations started popping up in regions such as California, Chile and South Africa.
Now to understand the different styles of Sauvignon Blanc. Cooler climate growing regions such as New Zealand’s Marlborough district produce a crisp, zingy wine with citrus and tropical fruit aromas. Mainly produced in stainless steel tanks, they tend to undergo little or no barrel ageing. Warmer climate places such as South Africa and California, tend to produce a rounder denser fruitscented wine. Some producers there will blend the wine made in stainless steel with one that has undergone a slight barrel-ageing process. The outcome is a wine with both the crisp freshness (stainless steel) and deeper flavour and complexity from the barrel ageing.
With all its different styles around, Sauvignon Blanc will remain as a top seller due to its versatility. As a stand-alone wine, its refreshing, crisp, profile with aromas of herbs and freshly-cut grass makes it pleasant and easy to drink. As for food pairing, if you are looking for a refreshing yet sharp white wine that would accompany a wide variety of dishes, be they fish, chicken, pork, salads, Chinese or whatever tickles your fancy, this is the perfect choice that will not make you feel like you just spent a day’s worth of salary on it.