If you’re interested in exploring aromatic white wines, then Sauvignon Blanc is a great place to start. This white grape originated in western France. Though today, it grows successfully in New and Old World regions globally. Let’s dive into top regions where you’ll find the best Sauvignon Blanc.
The Grape Variety
Sauvignon Blanc is a highly aromatic grape variety. It’s high acidity offers the ideal freshness to complement the variety’s fragrant aromas. This is an early-ripening variety, which thrives in cooler climates where the lower temperatures help to retain the grapes’ invigorating flavors and freshness.
Typically, Sauvignon Blanc is best drunk young while flavors are still fresh and intensely fruity. In such, most of these wines are produced without the use of oak in order to maintain that signature freshness. However, there are certain styles fermented and/or aged in oak, which contributes fuller body and notes of spice. These styles are found in Bordeaux’s Pessac-Léognan or under the name Fumé Blanc in Napa Valley and Washington.
Loire Valley, France
Some of the most world-renowned regions for Sauvignon Blanc are located in France’s Loire Valley. The cool climate here gives flavors of green apple, asparagus, and wet stone. Within Loire Valley, Sauvignon Blanc mainly grows in the Central Vineyards and Touraine.
Central Vineyards is the Loire’s most inland region offering a cool continental climate. This zone is home to two of this variety’s most prestigious appellations: Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé
In both appellations, this grape grows in chalky, well-drained stony soils. Thus, wines are dry and high in acidity, leading with green apple and wet stone aromas. The wines of Pouilly-Fumé are also known for their slightly smokey aromas.
Located west of Central Vineyards, Touraine produces the majority of Sauvignon Blanc in the Loire Valley. These wines are usually made in a simpler, fruitier style with much less concentration than Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé.
Additionally, if you’re looking for more moderately priced examples from Loire Valley, try the Menetou-Salon appellation. It’s located just outside of Sancerre and the wines are much more wallet friendly.
Sauvignon Blanc is considered New Zealand’s flagship variety. In such, it’s also the country’s most widely planted grape. In New Zealand, this variety achieves a whole new level of aromatics and flavor intensity. Expect pungent aromas and flavors of passion fruit, gooseberry, elderflower, and green pepper. Plus, trademark high acidity that provides these wines with an irresistible freshness.
New Zealand is made up of two islands, each offering their own spin on this aromatic white wine due to climatic differences. The North Island is warmer and therefore produces wines with more tropical fruit flavors. While the South Island has a cooler temperature, creating higher acidity and flavors of green bell pepper and gooseberry.
Marlborough, New Zealand
Located on the South Island, Marlborough is perhaps New Zealand’s most famous region for Sauvignon Blanc. It’s also the country’s center for grape growing and Sauvignon Blanc claims the majority of plantings here. Within Marlborough, the Awatere Valley produces wines with high acidity and a distinct herbaceous character thanks to the dry, cool climate.
Other Regions Known for Sauvignon Blanc
Quality fresh and fruity Sauvignon Blanc is also produced in a number of New World countries, including South Africa, Chile, Australia, California, and Washington.
Sauvignon Blanc grows widely throughout South Africa and is made in a variety of styles. The best examples come from cooler regions like Stellenbosch and have very pure citrus and green fruit flavors. Additionally, Elim in the Cape South Coast is well-known for a pungent, herbaceous expression of this grape.
Cooler vineyard sites in the San Antonio and Casablanca Valleys both produce wines with high acidity and concentrated fruity flavors. Expect notes of citrus, ripe apple, and occasionally herbaceous aromas.
Sauvignon Blanc is a major player in both domestic and export markets for Australia. Adelaide Hills in South Australia has built a reputation for quality Australian Sauvignon Blanc. The wines have intense passion fruit flavors and refreshing acidity. This variety is also widely planted in Western Australia’s Margaret River region where it’s often blended with Semillon. The wines show gooseberry and tropical fruit aromas with that same trademark high acidity.
Many of California’s coastal regions make Sauvignon Blanc with high acidity and juicy citrus flavors. Cooler sites in Napa Valley, like the Stags Leap District, Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford AVA’s are also great places to find quality wines made from this grape.
Sauvignon Blanc is one of many Bordeaux varieties grown in Washington wine regions. Here you’ll find styles ranging from slightly tart, herbaceous, and grassy to wines with more tropical fruit flavors and some oak influence.