International Sauvignon Blanc Day
History of Sauvignon Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc (sew-vin-yon blanc) hails from the Loire Valley in France, where it was named after the French words for wild (‘Sauvage’) and vine (‘vigne’).
This name is very apt due to the vine's tendency to grow out of control if it is not trained properly. Interestingly, it is because of this wild growth that Cabernet Sauvignon was produced. During the 1750s the Sauvignon Blanc vine spread from the Loire Valley to Bordeaux where it crossed with Cabernet Franc and produced this world-famous red variety!
Sauvignon Blanc Characteristics
Although Sauvignon Blanc is mainly produced in an elegant, subtle style in France and across Europe, nowadays Sauvignon Blanc is a household name due to the infamously strong, herbaceous, ‘New World’ expression from Marlborough, New Zealand.
In fact, this style is what the varietal is most known for (outside of Europe) and its success with a large number of Australian wine drinkers in the early 2000s has had a huge influence on the increase in Sauvignon Blanc plantings in Australia since then. There are now over 6097 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc vineyards across Australia.
These pungent characters are associated with a family of aroma compounds called Methoxypyrazines which are found in higher concentrations in Sauvignon Blanc grown in cooler climates.
There is a famous quote from renowned wine critic Jancis Robinson who, when asked to describe Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, said, “cats pee on a gooseberry bush!”
Another interesting and common tasting note for Sauvignon Blanc is ‘freshly cut grass’ owing to its incredibly herbaceous aromas. These are all part of the same Methoxypyrazine aroma compounds.
Other common Sauvignon Blanc characteristics are passion fruit, capsicum (bell peppers), melon and grapefruit.
Sauvignon Blanc in Margaret River
The Halliday Wine Companion states that “this Western Australian region champions Sauvignon Blanc like few others.” There are approximately 1,121 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc vineyards in the region and these wines reflect some of the purest varietal characters in Australia.
Millbrook Winemaker Emma Gillespie also describes the great depth of fruit flavour, freshness and lively acidity that is so unique to Sauvignon Blanc from this region.
This wine exhibits vibrant tropical and citrus aromas with herbaceous notes of freshly-cut grass. On the palate, this is a refreshing, dry style bursting with gooseberry and zesty acidity.
Winemaker Emma recommends drinking this wine with fresh Western Australian seafood or for the ultimate warming Autumn meal try a rosemary and thyme roast chicken.
A small portion of this wine was barrel fermented, paying homage to the great ‘Old World’ French Fumé Blanc style of Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley, France.
This wine was included in the Ray Jordan Top 100 Whites 2021 and in his review Ray said, “Complex savvy for this price range with a little barrel fermentation adding significantly to the palate texture and complexity. You still get those delicious primary fruit flavours, but then there is a little bit more.”
This wine embodies its name; it was picked at the perfect time to retain the incredible freshness and aromatics so beloved in Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc.
Fermentation occurred at very cool temperatures to retain these aromatics and the resulting wine shows layers of savoury lemongrass, ripe nectarine, tropical passionfruit, freshly cut grass and a citrus grapefruit finish. Clean and refreshing, the perfect accompaniment to a range of foods such as crab, lobster, goats’ cheese, burrata and risotto.
Sauvignon Blanc in Tasmania
Despite almost all of Tasmania’s vines being ripped out in the early 1900s due to the belief that the region was too far south to make wine, today Tasmania is a premium wine-growing area. In particular, cool-climate Tasmania produces world-class Sauvignon Blanc bursting with zesty citrus, perfume and tropical fruit. In fact, Sauvignon Blanc now makes up 11.4% of all Tasmanian grape varieties planted.
Fruit for this wine is sourced from the highly acclaimed Tasmanian vineyard regions of the Coal River Valley and the East Coast. The Coal River Valley fruit was barrel fermented on light lees imparting texture alongside rich tropical flavours and vibrant herbal notes. The East Coast parcel provides bright stone-fruit characters with perfumed elderflower and lime zest.
When in Tasmania, make sure to pair this wine with flash-fried Tasmanian abalone in a brown butter sauce for the ultimate divine experience.
Shop all of our Sauvignon Blanc wines here.