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