Along with Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc
is one of the big three white wine grapes. Originating in France, Sauvignon
Blanc forms the basis of Sancerre from the Loire Valley and (with
Sémillon) most Bordeaux whites, including the world-renowned Sauternes.
It is also used in the new world as both a varietal and blended with other
Sauvignon Blanc can produce a variety of styles, depending
upon how it is grown and prepared. The most basic style is a crisp dry white,
which is variously described as tasting of grapefruit, gooseberry, citrus,
flint and cat urine (this not being uncomplimentary — wine critics
are fond of using peculiar descriptions like pencil shavings and kerosene).
Sometimes it is aged in oak to give a deeper, smokier flavor, although more
often metal casks are used to retain the crispiness.
Also popular, although hard to create successfully, is a
sweet white. Sauvignon Blanc is a good candidate for deliberate rotting via
botrytis cinerea, the so-called noble rot. The difficulty in doing
this well leads to exorbitant prices for Sauternes wines, with the infamous
Château d'Yquem commanding higher prices per unit volume than ink jet cartridge
ink; the relative ease of doing this extremely badly would lead to substantial
amounts of very nasty cheap wine were it not for the Appellation d'Origine
Côntrolée rules and the lack of native botrytis in the United
Finally, Sauvignon Blanc is sometimes made into a half-arsed
semi-sweet wine that is utterly devoid of character and flavour that makes
Soave look like a paragon of vivaciousness. Such wines should be eschewed.
Sauvignon Blanc is also known as Fumé Blanc in
California. This is for marketing reasons rather than the more normal
confusion about whether or not two grapes are really the
Dry Sauvignon Blanc goes well with seafood, chicken and
salad. It should be served chilled (although not cold) and should not usually
be aged beyond around five years. Sweet varieties are a dessert wine, and
should be well aged.