Sauvignon Blanc is the second most popular white wine in the world, after Chardonnay. Globally, sales of Sauvignon Blanc increased 38% in 2021, more than the overall average increase in wine consumption. Despite its popularity many wine lovers can be unsure of its origins and distinctive taste profile. Sauvignon Blanc is a wine that has expressive and aromatic aromas ranging from tropical notes to crisp citrus and grassy. 

Additionally, its memorable, refreshing acidity leaves a lasting impression on the palate. Below, we explore the origins of Sauvignon Blanc, its growing regions, characteristics, styles, and much more. Let’s get started. 

Sauvignon Blanc: Exploring Origins, Growing Regions and Grape Profile 

Native to southwestern France, Sauvignon Blanc became recognized during the 18th century, but, here are reports of it being mentioned as early as the 1500s. Despite its origins, this grape was predominantly found in the Loire Valley as a wild-growing plant before spreading to Bordeaux. 

One of Sauvignon Blanc’s parental grapes is Savagnin (it’s not clear who the other parent was). That makes this grape a sibling of Grüner Veltliner, Chenin Blanc, Silvaner, and Verdelho, among several other grapes that originated in central France. This grape is also an essential to the creation of the ever so popular Cabernet Sauvignon as it was crossed with Cabernet Franc in Bordeaux during the 17th century in southwestern France. As it’s popularity grew, the Sauvignon grape was introduced to California and New Zealand during the 1960s and 1970s, where it flourished. It is a grape that can be found as a single varietal wine as well as in blends, its reputation as a versatile wine continues today. 

Grape Profile

Sauvignon Blanc is a green-skinned grape known for its high acidity and light to medium body. This grape can produce aromatic and distinctive wines depending on various factors. It is best suited to regions with a cooler climate. Yet, it can adapt to many growing conditions which contribute to the varying styles in the market. Grown in a cooler climate, this grape will produce a wine that displays more crisp and mineral qualities. Whereas, in warm temperatures, this grape will produce a wine that has richer tropical notes. 

Where is Sauvignon Blanc Wine Grown?

While many will still claim that Loire Valley’s terroir produces the best expression of Sauvignon Blanc there are many other regions who have become known for high quality Sauvignon. Here are some of the top growing regions for this grape: 

  • Loire Valley, France: The Loire Valley region produces a Sauvignon Blanc that is floral, zingy and has noticeable minerality. 
  • Bordeaux, France: In Bordeaux, Sauvignon Blanc grapes are used as in blended wines. A Bordeaux Blanc uses a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and other white grapes. It is produced in both dry and sweet styles. 
  • Marlborough, New Zealand: Sauvignon blanc comprises 72% of New Zealand’s overall wine production in New Zealand  and the production in Marlborough contributes to a big portion of that. This expression is typically fruit-forward coupled with pungent green notes of grass and asparagus. 
  • Casablanca, Chile: The Casablanca region of Chile produces a vibrant, light-bodied Sauvignon Blanc that offers bright citrus and herbaceous notes. Chilean Sauvignon blanc is often very good value. 
  • Napa Valley, California: Sauvignon Blanc produced in Napa Valley tends to be higher in alcohol and richer in body and aromatics due to the hotter climate. Many winemakers are experimenting with clones of this grape that grow best in this terroir. 

Tasting Notes of Sauvignon Blanc

While the aromatic profile of Sauvignon varies depending on where the grapes are grown, this grape tends to have certain distinct and unique aromatic traits regardless of where it comes from. Oftentimes, you can tell if a white wine is a Sauvignon Blanc by its obvious sharp citrus and herbaceous notes. Here are some of the tasting notes used to describe this white wine: 

  • Fresh herbs
  • Green grass
  • Asparagus
  • Jalapeño
  • Lemongrass
  • Green pepper
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • White peach
  • Pear
  • Passionfruit
  • Guava
  • Honeysuckle
  • Honey (sweet styles)
  • Dried stone fruit (sweet styles)
  • Citrus marmalade (sweet styles)
  • Candied Ginger (sweet styles)

Different Styles of Sauvignon Blanc

Many ask the question: Is Sauvignon Blanc a dry or sweet wine? The answer is there are many styles of Sauvignon Blanc, dry, sweet, sparkling and everything in between. However, most exported Sauvignon Blanc is dry. These wines are high in acid, and any residual sugar is eliminated during fermentation, making the product dry and crisp. 

In Bordeaux, particularly in Graves, Sauvignon Blanc is used to make a delicious and famous sweet wine called Sauternes, which is full-body and rich. This dessert wine is made with Botrytis affected grapes (also known as noble rot) and is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc which brings acidity, Semillon which is a grape susceptible to noble rot sue to its thin skins and Muscadelle for its floral characteristic. This is a special wine, not only because if the way it is made, but because of its complexity, intense aromatic profile and ageability. Sauterns is best paired with pungent cheeses, such as blue cheese, rich lemon flavoured desserts and foie gras is you are feeling extra indulgent!

Another style you my come across is sparkling Sauvignon Blanc. Crémant de Loire is probably the most recognizable sparkling wine made with this grape amongst wine enthusiasts. This sparkling wine is produced in Anjou, Saumur and Touraine and can include Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but also Cabernet Franc, Pineau d’Aunis, Grolleau Noir and even Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. The beauty of this sparkling wine is that méthode traditionelle (like Champagne) rather than tank production, so it often has complex nutty notes as well as gentle honeyed aromatics. It also very affordable making it a great option for a great value sparkling wine. This is pared best with fresh cheese such as brie or goat cheese, smoked salmon, scallops, oysters and shrimp cocktail.

Chardonnay vs Sauvignon Blanc: What is the Main Difference?

Chardonnay is the most consumed white wine in the world, so let’s compare it to the second most consumed white wine; Sauvignon Blanc. 

Chardonnay is typically less aromatic in comparison to Sauvignon Blanc. The flavour profile of Chardonnay wine is fruit forward and lacks the green herbal notes that Sauvignon Blanc has. Depending on where it is grown, it could have less of the bold acidic that Sauvignon Blanc has and is better suited to oak treatment during the winemaking process.

Best Food Pairings for Sauvignon Blanc 

Thanks to Sauvignon Blanc’s versatility, there are plenty of food pairings that you can look to when serving this white wine. Our team is particularly fond of pairing Sauvignon Blanc with goat cheese, white fish, grilled chicken or turkey, green vegetables, shellfish and seafood.

The Tunella Sauvignon 2020 from Friuli-Venezia Giulia in Italy is best paired with lobster or creamy risottos. For a Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc, pair the Domaine de la Villaudiere Sancerre 2020 with roast chicken and herbs to compliment the wine’s freshness and unmistakable minerality. 

For more wine inspiration, browse our white wine selection or contact the Small Winemakers team today.


    Stay up to date!
    Sign up for the Ultimate Wine Lovers Newsletter with weekly offers
    Thanks for signing up. You must confirm your email address before we can send you. Please check your email and follow the instructions.
    We respect your privacy. Your information is safe and will never be shared.
    Don't miss out. Subscribe today.