Know your Grape: Sauvignon Blanc

Known for its herby flavours and zesty acidity, Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine grape that is produced all across the world. What many do not know is that Sauvignon Blanc is also the parent grape (progenitor) of two other popular grape varieties: Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc.

The Parent of Iconic Cabernet Sauvignon: While renowned for its crisp white wines, Sauvignon Blanc has a hidden legacy as the parent grape of the illustrious red variety Cabernet Sauvignon. This red grapes showcases the remarkable genetic diversity hidden within Sauvignon Blanc.


Sauvignon Blanc is an aromatic variety that grows well in cool and moderate climates. It typically produces dry wines that are light to medium-bodied with higher acidity. It has dominant flavours such as herbaceous – grass and green bell pepper and floral aromas such as blossom. It also has notes of apple, gooseberry, and wet stones, along with ripe tropical fruit such as passion fruit.


Sauvignon Blanc is usually made as a single varietal style, but sometimes it is blended with Semillon, another white grape variety. Single-varietal wines are usually produced in inert vessels as new oak flavours may easily overwhelm their distinctive herbaceous characteristics. Sauvignon Blanc wines are best consumed when fresh and young.

Also Read: Sparkling Wines: Champagne, Prosecco, Cava and Beyond

Ancient Origins: Sauvignon Blanc's history traces back further than many might expect. The grape has been cultivated for centuries, and its origins can be traced to southwestern France. Its name "Sauvignon" is believed to stem from the French words "sauvage" (wild) and "vigne" (vine), highlighting its wild and vigorous growth patterns in the vineyard.

Old World Sauvignon Blanc:

Loire Valley, France

Sauvignon Blanc is the only white variety permitted in Sancerre AOC (Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée) and Pouilly Fumé AOC, two appellations of the Loire Valley. These appellations have a cool climate and produce dry wines with high acidity and aromas of green fruit, herbaceous notes, and wet stones.

Touraine AOC: Sauvignon Blanc grapes produced in this region are typically fruity and inexpensive.

Sancerre AOC: The Sauvignon Blanc grapes produced here are lively and vibrant. They are bursting with citrus, elderflower, grassy aromas and some gooseberry notes. Many wines show a lovely mineral character and the best examples are known for their delicious, multi-layered texture on the palate.

Pouilly Fumé AOC: The appearance of these wines is pale straw yellow. Intense aromas of grapefruit and white flowers, frequently with herbal and mineral notes. The wine is light-to-medium-bodied with crisp acidity, bright citrus flavours and flinty minerality.

Bordeaux, France

A broad range of Sauvignon Blanc styles is made in this region. Bordeaux AOC makes simple wines with fresh green apple and grass aromas, while wines from Graves AOC and Pessac-Léognan AOC are more complex and concentrated. For these wines, Sauvignon Blanc is typically blended with Sémillon variety which adds body to the blend and helps the wine to age. Very few premium wines are aged in oak and develop complex flavours of honey and nuts in the bottle.

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New World Sauvignon Blanc:

New Zealand

The cool and moderate climate region of Marlborough at the top of New Zealand’s South Island is famous for Sauvignon Blanc. The grape has more pronounced characteristics and these wines display a broad range of fruit flavours from lemon, peach and passionfruit to herbaceous flavours of green bell pepper. Some winemakers keep their wine in oak or lees contact for a short amount of time to add complexity and body.


Margaret River in Western Australia is known for Sauvignon Blanc, both for single varietal wine and blended wine with Sémillon. These wines have concentrated herbaceous aromas and some examples of oak maturation.

In South Australia, Sauvignon Blanc is widely planted in Adelaide Hills. The climate is moderated by cool ocean breezes and altitude, so the wines produced here are fresh and fruity.


Casablanca Valley produces some very good quality Sauvignon Blanc. The region is moderated by cool sea breezes and morning fog. The wine is fresh, citrusy and fruity here.

Central Valley also produces some Sauvignon Blanc in a range of quality from inexpensive to very good quality.

Constantia, South Africa

Constantia to the south of Cape Town, is cooled by sea breezes and it helps produce refreshing Sauvignon Blanc wines with ripe tropical fruit and herbaceous notes.

Napa Valley, USA

The finest examples come from the cooler regions of the Napa Valley and the grapes may be harvested early, to maintain high acidity and herbaceous character.

These wines are sometimes made in contact with oak to add body and flavour. A style made famous by Robert Mondavi in the 1970s when he renamed his barrel-aged Sauvignon Blanc to Fumé Blanc. The wine tastes creamy while still exhibiting the variety’s trademark ‘green notes’.

Serving Temperature:

Serving Temperature –  7 to 10 degree Celsius.

Glassware – Standard white glass with a rounder base to the bowl

Food Pairing:

Sauvignon Blanc makes a wonderful choice with herb-driven sauces over chicken, tofu, or fish dishes. Matches well with feta or chèvre, or is paired with herb-driven Asian flavours such as Thai or Vietnamese cuisine.

If you want to learn more about different grape varieties, then the online Advanced Wine Pro course by Sonal Holland Wine Academy is the right course for you. A top-level and comprehensive wine certification, this course will help you heighten your wine knowledge and build a strong level of confidence for growth in the industry. For details, click here.

Originally published: 16th August , 2023

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