While it may lack the dimensions of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc’s greatest attributes lie in its fabulous array of aromatic qualities, which vary according to growing location and its treatment in the cellar.
It divides into two clear styles characterised by the fragrant, zingy fresh Loire Valleystyle reminiscent of cut-grass, gooseberry, flint and nettles, and the contrasting Bordeaux-style, often blended with Semillon and Muscadelle and barrel-fermented to produce the richer, if less assertive, food friendly dry whites of Pessac-Leognan in the Graves. At the same time, it is a component in the sweet, rich and luscious whites of Sauternes and Barsac. It can do well in cooler areas within Europe, including parts of Austria and Hungary.
In New Zealand’s Marlborough, it produces a stunning array of pungently, assertive characters, from the green grass, green bean, tinned pea and asparagus flavours to the more tropical, ripe spectrum of grapefruit, guava, passion fruit and mango. The Sauvignon cause has also been taken up to good and affordable effect by Chile and South Africa, whose cooler spots are proving ideal for this wonderfully zingy, fresh grape variety.
Sauvignon Blanc is at its most fragrant and fresh in the cooler climate of the Loire Valley where cut-grass, nettles, elderflower, blackcurrant leaf and gooseberries are the key flavours with minerally, zesty, flinty undertones. It is at its most assertive in the pungently catty, elderfloral style of Marlborough in New Zealand, where, depending on ripeness levels it ranges from green bean, tinned pea and asparagus flavours and the riper, more tropical characters of grapefruit, guava, passion fruit and mango.