Cheers to International Sauvignon Blanc Day
History of Sauvignon Blanc
First produced in the 1500s, Sauvignon Blanc (sew-vin-yon blonk) hails from the Loire Valley in France, where it was named after the French words for wild (sauvage) and vine (vigne).
This name is apt due to the vine's wild 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!
Fun fact: One of Sauvignon Blanc’s parents was the ancient varietal Savagnin, which means this varietal is also related to Grüner Veltliner, Chenin Blanc, Silvaner, and Verdelho.
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 Australian wine drinkers in the early 2000s had a huge influence on the increase in Sauvignon Blanc plantings in Australia since. There are now over 6097 hectares of Sauvignon Blanc vineyards across the country!
These herbaceous characters are associated with a family of aroma compounds called methoxypyrazines, which are found in higher concentrations in Sauvignon Blanc grown in cooler climates.
Fun fact: There are some people who describe smelling 'cats pee' when they drink Sauvignon Blanc! This amusing description is actually caused by a unique chemical compound called '4MMP'. Found in higher concentrations in cooler climate Sauvignon Blanc, there really aren't many other wine aromas like it!
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 family.
Other common Sauvignon Blanc characteristics are passion fruit, capsicum (bell peppers), guava, melon and grapefruit.
Most Sauvignon Blanc is aged in stainless steel and bottled while fresh and youthful, however it's becoming more common for winemakers to use lees contact and barrel ageing for a portion of their Sauvignon Blanc blend. This is a well-known wine style in France, where wines are called 'Fumé Blanc'. These winemaking techniques means that we are seeing more rich, textural expressions of this varietal, with hints of honeysuckle and stone fruit.
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".
A small portion of this wine was barrel fermented, paying homage to the great ‘Old World’ French style of Sauvignon Blanc (Fumé Blanc) from the Loire Valley, France.
Awarded 95 points in the James Halliday Top 100 Wines of 2022: "Partial barrel fermentation adds another dimension to the citrus, snow pea and passionfruit of the wine, the rich, varietally precise bouquet marking a multi-layered palate that takes barely a split second to fill every part of the long, lingering palate with its grapefruit and nectarine flavours. As usual, exceptional value."
Wild Cape is a celebration of the raw beauty of Western Australia's South West and embodies the spectacular coastline and distinct regional characteristics of Margaret River wine.
Senior Winemaker Matt Byrne describes this wine as “a relentless wave of flavour. Purity and energy – Margaret River Sauvignon Blanc in all its glory.”
Awarded a Trophy for Best Sauvignon Blanc at the prestigious Sydney Royal Wine Show 2022, this is a flavoursome, long and delicious wine bursting with lychee, lime cordial and tropical fruits.
Sauvignon Blanc in Geographe
Located near the southern end of Western Australia's Indian Ocean coast, Geographe is the most diverse wine region in WA with over 36 different varieties planted across 790 hectares of vineyards.
Combined with a Mediterranean climate, the region’s warm temperatures are moderated by the sea breezes coming off the Indian Ocean. The region has a slightly hotter climate compared to Margaret River, leading to more powerful, fruit-driven wine styles.
Sauvignon Blanc is propagated widely throughout the region and now makes up over 18% of all Geographe wine.
This wine exhibits vibrant tropical and citrus aromas, with herbaceous notes of freshly-cut grass. On the palate, this is a refreshing, dry Sauvignon Blanc with juicy gooseberry and a 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."
Sauvignon Blanc in Tasmania
Despite almost all of Tasmania’s vines being ripped out in the early 1900s due to the belief that the area was too far south to make wine, today Tasmania is known as a premium cool climate wine region. In particular, Tasmania produces world-class Sauvignon Blanc, which now makes up 11.4% of all Tasmanian grape varieties planted.
This exceptional Tasmanian wine is a blend of Coal River Valley and the East Coast fruit. A portion of this wine was barrel fermented on light lees imparting richness and texture. This Sauvignon Blanc bursts with bright stone-fruit characters, perfumed elderflower and lime zest, alongside juicy passion fruit and vibrant herbal notes.
When in Tasmania, make sure to pair this wine with flash-fried Tasmanian abalone in a brown butter sauce for the ultimate food and wine experience.
Shop all of our Sauvignon Blanc wines here.