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The Many Faces of Sauvignon Blanc

Jonathan Rogers of The Solent Wine Experience looks at the different styles of Sauvignon Blanc

Everywhere you go now you will see an abundance of wines made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape and one particular country stands out from the most; New Zealand. During the 1990’s the grape variety became very popular and the Marlborough region in particular was favoured due to the good drainage of its soil which encourages the vine to concentrate its flavours in lower yields. These low yields are what New Zealand wine growers favour most.

Soil plays a huge part in the style of wine which is produced , and as Sauvignon Blanc is planted in many parts of the world, you will see a vast array of different styles on the market. The soils of the Marlborough region tend to be quite sandy with a mix of slate. This results in intense grassy characters with high levels of acidity and citrus characters. If we move to Europe , in particular the origin of Sauvignon Blanc, South West France we get different characters altogether. The grape is one of four varietals (Semillon, Ugni Blanc and Muscadelle being the other three) allowed for the dry white wines produced in Bordeaux, in particular the regions of Graves, Pessac Leognan and Entre Deux Mers and the Sauternes region for sweet wines. Here it is blended with Semillon and the ratio of the two grapes varies from producer to producer.

Sauvignon BlancAnother region where Sauvignon flourishes is the Loire Valley in the regions of Sancerre, Touraine and Pouilly Fumé. The latter refers to the village of Pouilly and the term Fumé, meaning 'smoked' refers to the style of the wine. Here the soil is a mix of flint and limestone and the locals feel that this ads a particular smoky hint to the wine. Also the wines are aged in oak which supplies these characteristics. The wines in the Loire region are more perfumed and have more tropical fruit hints, are more rounded and elegant. This is due to the continental climate which allows a longer ripening period of the grape which in turn gives more of a balance between the acidity and sugar levels. The Touraine region also offers excellent value for money where as the Sancerre and Pouilly Fume tend to be on the 'fine wine' side.

So depending on the style of wine you like depends on which region you choose. If you like your Sauvignon to be crisp, with high acidity and grassy tones then head to New Zealand. If you prefer a more tropical, aromatic and elegant wine then head to the Loire Valley. Either style, they are perfect summer drinking wines.

Try these from Majestic Wines:

Pouilly-Fumé ‘Les Cascadelles’ 2013 Caves de Pouilly-sur-Loire. £13.99 (£11.99 as part of multibuy)
Packed with fruit flavours of orange and gooseberries along with a typical elegant flinty character

La Croix St Vincent Sauvignon Blanc 2014 Entre-Deux-Mers £9.99 (£6.66 multibuy)
Lots of green apple flavours with clean crisp finish and balanced acidity.

Jackson Estate 'Stich' Sauvignon Blanc 2013/2014 Marlborough £14.99 (£9.99 multibuy)
Ripe citrus fruit dominates this classy Kiwi.

La Grille Touraine Sauvignon 2014 Paul Buisse £8.99 (£6.74 multibuy)
Soft rounded tropical fruit with a balanced citrus acidity on the finish. A bargain price too.

Posted on Wed, July 08 2015