Sauvignon Blanc is one of the world’s most popular wines. Yet despite the continued popularity of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, it was New Zealand that really put the style on the international map.
Over 40 years ago, when the first bottles of Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc were produced, this crisp, dry, unoaked, unashamedly fresh and fruity wine style was the perfect antithesis to the woody Australian Chardonnays or sweet Rieslings that provided the bulk of white wine fare in the UK.
Fast forward to today, and more than five million glasses of Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc are enjoyed worldwide every day, according to New Zealand Winegrowers.
While Marlborough still dominates production, and is the style most drinkers associate with New World Sauvignon Blanc, there are excellent examples to be found from Hawke’s Bay, Wairarapa, Nelson, Canterbury and Central Otago too.
And styles are more varied than you might think. Yes, there are still those championing that pungent passion fruit hit that continues to make New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc so popular, but wines using wild yeasts, skin contact, oak ageing and lees work mean there are more complex examples worth exploring.
With screwcaps ensuring freshness and fruit purity, these wines are best enjoyed within one to three years of their vintage, but the best wines will take on appealing smoky, waxy, nutty and earthy notes with careful bottle age, up to a decade or more.
Of course there are plenty of other excellent Sauvignon Blancs beyond New Zealand to enjoy – from the Loire, Bordeaux, Austria, Australia, South Africa, Chile and the US, each with their own distinct character – perfect to toast International Sauvignon Blanc Day (#SauvBlancDay).
Introduction by Tina Gellie in 2020. Wines updated in 2021 – all tasted and scored by Decanter experts.