Sauvignon Blanc is popular world wide with both wine lovers and wine makers. Although it is associated with regions such as Bordeaux, the Loire, California and New Zealand, it is found nearly everywhere. Originally, Sauvignon Blanc is from the South West region of France where it spread up to Bordeaux and achieved great acclaim. Although many will be familiar with Sauvignon blanc in its capacity as a dry wine, in appellations such as Sauternes and Barsac, it is used alongside Semillon as a component in the famous, long-lived sweet wines of these regions. There is of course, plenty of dry white Bordeaux produced as well. From there, Sauvignon blanc found another home in the chalky soils along the Loire river, and appellations such as Sancerre produce wonderful expressions of Sauvignon blanc, grown in the same Kimmeridgian soils as Chablis.
Sauvignon Blanc can be categorized as a semi-aromatic grape variety. Depending on the style and climate of the region of origin, Sauvignon blanc can range from grassy, gooseberry, or even asparagus notes, to riper peach and ruby red grapefruit aromas. It possesses aromatic compounds called pyrazines which are the major reason why Sauvignon blanc tastes the way it does. They cause aromas such as the green bell pepper and jalapeño that are present in slightly under ripe or cool climate Sauvignon blanc. This same compound is also found in Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Although it thrives in cooler areas such as in New Zealand's Marlborough region or Bordeaux, high quality Sauvignon blanc is also produced in warmer regions such as Napa Valley. In warm climates, Sauvignon blanc can quickly lose acidity or become over-ripe. When this occurs, the flavor nuances of the grape disappear and one is left with flabby acidity. However many quality minded producers in warm climates such as Napa take precautions against this, such as harvesting earlier or picking at night to preserve acid.
In Napa, as in Bordeaux, it is common to see Sauvignon blanc that has seen oak treatment. Winemakers in Napa will some times even add a dash of Semillon to their Sauvignon blanc bottlings. They are rounder, richer and riper. This style is known as Fume Blanc, a term coined by the late Robert Mondavi in 1968.
Because of its inherent herbaceous characteristics, Sauvignon blanc is a great wine for hard to pair foods such as artichoke, Brussels sprouts or asparagus. It is a wonderful wine for salads, and is a great pairing for fish dishes.