Depending on the climate, the flavor can range from aggressively grassy to sweetly tropical. In cooler climates, the grape has a tendency to produce wines with noticeable acidity and "green flavors" of grass, green bell peppers and nettles with some tropical fruit (such as passion fruit) and floral (such as elderflower) notes. In warmer climates, it can develop more tropical fruit notes but risk losing a lot of aromatics from over-ripeness, leaving only slight grapefruit and tree fruit (such as peach) notes.
Wine experts have used the phrase "crisp, elegant, and fresh" as a favorable description of Sauvignon blanc from the Loire Valley and New Zealand. Sauvignon blanc, when slightly chilled, pairs well with fish or cheese, particularly chèvre. It is also known as one of the few wines that can pair well with sushi. Along with Riesling, Sauvignon blanc was one of the first fine wines to be bottled with a screwcap in commercial quantities, especially by New Zealand producers. The wine is usually consumed young, as it does not particularly benefit from aging, as varietal Sauvignon blancs tend to develop vegetal aromas reminiscent of peas and asparagus with extended aging. Dry and sweet white Bordeaux, including oak-aged examples from Pessac-Léognan and Graves, as well as some Loire wines from Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre are some of the few examples of Sauvignon blancs with aging potential.
The first Friday in May is International Sauvignon Blanc Day.
The Sauvignon blanc grape traces its origins to western France in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux Regions. As noted above, it is not clear that the vine originated in western France. Ongoing research suggests it may have descended from Savagnin. It has also been associated with the Carmenere family. At some point in the 18th century, the vine paired with Cabernet Franc to parent the Cabernet Sauvignon vine in Bordeaux. In the 19th century, plantings in Bordeaux were often interspersed with Sauvignon vert (In Chile, known as Sauvignonasse) as well as the Sauvignon blanc pink mutation Sauvignon gris. Prior to the phylloxera epidemic, the insect plague which devastated French vineyards in the 19th century, these interspersed cuttings were transported to Chile where the field blends are still common today. Despite the similarity in names, Sauvignon blanc has no known relation to the Sauvignon rosé mutation found in the Loire Valley of France..
The first cuttings of Sauvignon blanc were brought to California by Charles Wetmore, founder of Cresta Blanca Winery, in the 1880s. These cuttings came from the Sauternes vineyards of Château d'Yquem. The plantings produced well in Livermore Valley. Eventually, the wine acquired the alias of "Fumé Blanc" in California by promotion of Robert Mondavi in 1968. The grape was first introduced to New Zealand in the 1970s as an experimental planting to be blended with Müller-Thurgau.
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