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Sauvignon Blanc became a varietal with an alias in California, where it is now often known and labeled as Fume Blanc.

The varietal identity of Sauvignon Blanc is typically similar to grass, bell-pepper, or grapefruit in nature. Quite often Sauvignon Blanc picks up an aggressive "catbox" odor when the grapes lack sun exposure or are harvested underripe. Clonal selection and viticultural practices that expose the grapes to more sunlight yield wine that is more melon-like in aroma.

Blending Sauvignon Blanc with Semillon is a common practice that can add richness and an extra element of figs to the aroma, softening the sometimes abrasive Sauvignon Blanc character.

This blending is widespread in the Graves district of France's Bordeaux region (normally 75-85% Sauvignon Blanc to 15-25% Semillon). In the communes of Sauternes and Barsac, a blend of 60-70% Semillon with 30-40% Sauvignon Blanc is more typical. When allowed to hang, past the normal ripeness point for dry table wine, the grape flavors may be concentrated by the influence of a naturally-occurring mold known as "Noble Rot", to make the area's famous dessert wines.

Loire Valley wines made from Sauvignon Blanc, such as Pouilly Fumé and Sancerre, are most often 100% Sauvignon Blanc, unblended and usually made without the use of oak.

Besides France and California, Sauvignon Blanc also is produced successfully by New Zealand and South Africa (excellent in both), Chile, Argentina, and, to lesser degrees of production, Washington State, Australia, and Italy, where it is expanding. With fairly good tonnage per acre and lacking the inflationary consumer demand of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc is often a very good value.

Sauvignon Blanc is usually quite distinctive and one of the easier varietal wines to recognize by its often sharp, aggressive smell.

With naturally high acidity, Sauvignon Blanc is always tangy, tart, nervy, racy, or zesty, and this character pervades even sweet and dessert versions, keeping them from being cloying and sticky-tasting.


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