Tom Jones of the Whalley Wine Shop provides the best Sauvignon Blanc guide
Sauvignon comes from many different countries, in many different styles, at varying prices and most definitely varying degrees of quality.
Sauvignon Blanc has, over the last 10 years, probably become the UK’s most well known and popular white wines.
If you were playing the old game show ‘Family Fortunes’ and asked 100 people, even non-wine drinkers, to name a variety of white wine grape, then I think you’re getting the ‘Top Score’ buzzer for Sauvignon Blanc!
However, not all Sauvignons are created equally. Sauvignon comes from many different countries, in many different styles, at varying prices and most definitely varying degrees of quality. At its best, Sauvignon Blanc can create some of the most fabulous wines in the world, at its worst you’re better trying to degrease engine parts with it!
To achieve excellent results Sauvignon must be grown on the right sites and very carefully managed. It’s a particularly vigorous vine and unless the vegetation is managed and the vine’s energy focused on producing good fruit it can produce wines that are thin, aggressively herbaceous and acidic.
Sauvignon Blanc originates from the Loire Valley, France and is an off spring of a now rare grape ‘Savagnin Blanc’ and a sibling of Chenin Blanc. Its credentials received a boost in 1997 when it was discovered to be a parent of the highly respected red grape variety Cabernet Sauvignon. From the Loire, Sauvignon spread and became popular in Bordeaux, being blended with ‘Semillon’ to create lovely dry wines but also some of the worlds most expensive sweet wines, including Sauternes. Since then Sauvignon has gone on a ‘World Tour’, popping up in other regions of France, across Europe and then spreading to the ‘New World’. It ‘s now widely grown in Australia, America, Chile, South Africa, Argentina and, most famously New Zealand.
New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc was given a real boost when a very distinctive new style emerged from wineries including the now iconic Cloudy Bay, established in 1985. They produced Sauvignons that were more aromatic and perfumed than the French counterparts, with a pungent herbaceous character, and a much fruitier palate. These garnered high praise from critics and really took off in the UK.
This popularity has hardly wavered since and the key New Zealand wine region of Marlborough has built its reputation on the back of producing good quality, great value Sauvignon Blanc. While Marlborough remains a very popular style there are definitely some other regions worth exploring.
Domaine de Villargeau Coteaux du Giennois - Loire Valley, France, 2019, 13.5%. £12.49 or 6 for £65: This is a fabulous little region in the Loire Valley, neighbouring such famous areas as Sancerre and Pouilly Fume. However, as it’s less well known, the wines offer superb quality at excellent prices. Dry on the palate with a racy acidity and a lovely chalky style typical of the Loire Sauvignons. This is bright, fresh, lean and mineral in style. Lovely with traditional goats cheese.
Kenderman Kalkstein Sauvignon Blanc - Pfalz, Germany, 2018, 12.5%. £9.99 or 6 for £55: Although from quite a big producer, the ‘Terroirs’ project focuses on showing off a modern German style and this delightful wine does just that. Germany is normally known for Riesling, but Sauvignon has been growing in popularity. An elegant and zesty wine with notes of blossom, light lime and citrus and a delicate and pretty style. Refreshing and perfect as an aperitif or with a light salad.
Neil Ellis ‘Amica’ Sauvignon Blanc - Stellenbosch, South Africa, 2017, 13%. £21.99: One of the best Sauvignons I’ve tasted this year. Two things set this wine apart from ‘normal’ Sauvignon blanc. Firstly it is ‘Wild Fermented’, meaning that rather than adding a cultured yeast it’s made using the yeasts that occur naturally in the vineyard and winery, adding an extra layer of complexity and depth. Secondly, the wine spends nine months in large oak barrels so gets a soft creamy texture added to it. Richer and rounder than most Sauvignons this has honeysuckle, white stone fruit and a waxy, textured finish. S
Sauv on wine
Of course, we can’t discuss Sauvignon Blanc without offering up a few from New Zealand!
Marlborough Sauvignon shows the typical grapefruit, gooseberry, green nettle, herbaceous character along with the dry and refreshing acidity that is so popular.
So, we have put together a mixed case of some of our best-selling New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc’s to really give you an idea of what Marlborough can produce. Normally £68.94, this is available at just £60 from The Whalley Wine Shop.
2 x Vidal Sauvignon Blanc
2 x Esk Valley Sauvignon Blanc
2 x Mayfly Sauvignon Blanc
Free delivery within 10 miles or £4.99 delivery 10-20 miles.