Summer and seafood are perfect companions to Sauvignon Blanc. This is a bright, crisp, acidic wine that is always refreshing during the hot days of summer. Sauvignon Blanc started in France (as most grapes do) and has made its way to many wine growing regions around the world.
Sauvignon Blanc is grown in many wine regions around the world. By understanding the top regions and the unique French labeling, you’ll have an easier time selecting this wine at the store or from a restaurant menu.
- France: Loire Valley (labeled: Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Cheverny, Touraine)
- California: Napa Valley, Sonoma, Mendocino, Clear Lake
- New Zealand: Marlborough, Nelsen, Huke’s Bay
Bordeaux region of France
This grape started in the Bordeaux region of France but was historically blended with the Semillon grape to produce a dessert wine. The Loire Valley in France is where the grape was kept true to form to produce the popular Sauvignon Blanc – single varietal (single grape) wine. To find this wine from France, you’ll have to look for it under the names: Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé.
In California, Robert Mondavi aged the Sauvignon Blanc in oak to balance out the fruit-forward profile. He called it Fumé Blanc which is a label you may see on California wines from time to time. However, Sauvignon Blanc very rarely matures in oak.
Cool and Warm Climate Differences
The differences you’ll see in Sauvignon Blanc depend on the climate it comes from. Cooler Climates like France, Chile, New Zealand produce a wine with higher acidity, green pepper, grass, and tropical fruit.
In the warmer climates like California and Australia, you’ll experience lower aromatics, lower acidity, and more fruit-forward flavors like grapefruit and peach.
Familiarize your palate with Sauvignon Blanc and discover the regional differences for yourself. You can easily do this by selecting a bottle of wine from each region and then tasting them side-by-side. Remember, if you can’t find these selections, just look for a Sauvignon Blanc from these regions with a decent rating (85 and above) and at your price point.
To make it even easier, I’ve selected Sauvignon Blanc from the top 3 regions that are available on Wine.com.
Affiliate links are included for your convenience. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I’ll earn a small amount. Your cost is the same with or without the link. Enjoy!
Whether you are actually doing the tasting or just opening a bottle, follow these 3 tasting steps to become familiar with the typical tasting profiles of Sauvignon Blanc. You can even have some of the cheese pairing suggestions on hand to see how they work together.
Take your glass and tilt it over a white napkin or paper at a 45-degree angle. Compare the color across all regions. They should be a pale straw color. Some may have hints of green.
TASTING PROFILE: Pale straw with hints of green.
Let’s see how aromatic Sauvignon Blanc is. Hold your glass at your chest and see if you can catch any scent. Then move it to your chin and try to smell. Then really put your nose in the glass and take a big sniff. What scents do you catch? Swirl the wine and then sniff again. What scents do you catch now?
TASTING PROFILE: This is an aromatic grape that you should be able to smell at your chest or chin. Scents include tropical fruit, citrus, herbs.
Take a taste and swirl it in your mouth. What flavors do you taste? After you swallow, how long does the flavor linger and how would you describe those flavors?
Fruit: Tropical fruit, peach, grapefruit, passion fruit, lemon, lime.
Acidity: Medium to high levels from cool climates. Medium levels from warmer climates. (This is tartness in the wine and hits underneath the back of your tongue and throat.)
Tannin: No tannin. (This is bitterness that comes from the grape skins.)
Oak: Rarely matures in oak. Warmer climate Sauvignon Blanc may mature in oak to round out fruit forward flavors. Wine labeled with Fumé Blanc is matured in oak.
Body: Medium body. (This is how heavy or full the wine is. Think skim milk vs. whole milk.)
Easy Rating System
After you taste each wine, give it a rating using this easy rating system. Add notes to help remember what you liked or didn’t like about the wine.
3pts Good, but not great
1pt Not for me
Food & Cheese Pairings
Sauvignon Blanc is a great refreshing wine, especially on a hot, sunny day. It pairs well with fish, shellfish, and white meat.
- Seafood (white fish, shrimp, lobster, scallops, oysters)
- White meat (chicken, pork)
- Green vegetables (asparagus, artichokes, salads)
- Monterey Jack
- Sharp Cheddar