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Sauvignon Blanc

by Staff Writer - R. Meoki | July 08, 2011

Sauvignon Blanc is crisp, high in acidity and light to medium-bodied. They can be anything from sweet to dry, but are typically very light. Sauvignon Blanc is recognizable for its grassy, herbaceous flavor and aroma. The most prominent characteristic of Sauvignon Blanc wine is its distinctive, penetrating aroma, which can evoke scents of grapefruit, lime, green melon, gooseberry, passion fruit, freshly mown grass, and bell pepper. Sauvignon Blanc is grown in cooler climates and in fertile soils promoting excessive vine growth, herbaceous smells and flavors can dominate the character of Sauvignon Blanc wine. While in warmer regions, the melon, citrus and passion fruit aromas and flavors emerge. When grown in warmer climates the flavors are fruitier and more melon-like. The grape is important in California, New Zealand and Northeastern Italy, but it really shines in France's Loire Valley and Bordeaux regions.

Sauvignon Blanc has been used for generations in France, and came to California in 1878. In the United States it is sometimes called "Fumé Blanc", a name first coined by Robert Mondavi to play up its smoky flavors. The sales of the wine under this new name now exceed sales under the original name. New Zealand is now known as one of the top producers of Sauvignon Blanc.

Though it is not as rich and complex as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc is a versatile grape that grows well in a number of places and responds well to oak. Sauvignon Blanc can be drunk young or aged several years. Sauvignon Blanc can also make for some wonderful late harvest offerings.

Sauvignon Blanc finds its peak in brisk, vibrant wines that are at their best when consumed young. Some winemakers, especially in California, have been vinifying (winemaking) Sauvignon Blanc in the style of Chardonnay. Unfortunately, this approach has exposed the entire variety to criticism when these Sauvignon Blanc wines fall short of Chardonnay and also lose their own distinctiveness.

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Sauvignon Blanc wine's acidic taste partners well with oily-based dishes such as salads, and is perfect with lobster, oysters, scallops or in fact any type of fish. Sauvignon Blanc wines tend to be crisp and acidic, helping the wine cut through heavy food flavors. It pairs well with thick sauces and stews. Sauvignon Blanc should be served at around 52F and should be drunk within a few years.

You may also want to try a blended Sauvignon Blanc wine. This is when the Sauvignon Blanc grape is blended with another grape, generally Semillon. Blended Sauvignon Blanc has more of a smoky flavor because it is casked in oak barrels. This type of Sauvignon Blanc benefits from the aging process. American vintners have been producing Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon or Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc wines for years, modeled after the classic white Bordeaux blends. These new blended wines are worth checking out for their variation in flavor and style.

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