Sauvignon Blanc grapes
The newest innovation for Nepenthe. The wine is an enticing mix combining the traditional Sauvignon Blanc flavours of tropical fruit, crisp citrus and herbaceous characters with the fresh, effervescence of bubbles.
Sauvignon Blanc is a variety with increasing popularity in Australia. Although its plantings are quite small, they are expected to significantly increase over the next ten years. Sauvignon Blanc is used to make fresh, vibrant wine styles with none of the heaviness of Chardonnay or the floral tones of Riesling. Its flavour profile is in harmony with Semillon and consequently these varieties are often blended together. Australia's best Sauvignon Blanc comes from the cool to cold regions, where varietal expression is at its strongest.
The flavour spectrum of Sauvignon Blanc is quite diverse. Upon a backbone of herbaceousness lie tropical fruit, passionfruit and gooseberry. Look a little closer and you may see tomato leaf, spice and flint. The stronger styles have elements of asparagus, capsicum and gun smoke. And winemaking can add tones of oak, butter and yeast. They are a feast for the senses, especially during the heat of summer where their defined acidity adds freshness to the palate.
Sauvignon Blanc is most suited to cool-to-cold climate viticulture. It is in these conditions that the true essence of the variety is nurtured and expressed. Cooler climates preserve a grapes natural acidity, which heightens and defines its flavour. The Adelaide Hills is home to some of Australia's best examples of Sauvignon Blanc, along with the Yarra Valley, Tasmania, and Tumbarumba. Margaret River, on the other hand, produces expressive Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blends, where the marriage of the two varieties result in a union greater than the individual parts.
However Australia's greatest challenge with Sauvignon Blanc is to produce wines that compete with those of our nearest neighbour. New Zealand is one of the world's greatest Sauvignon Blanc producing countries, with wines in a class of their own. I often find myself thinking, why buy Australian when I can get more flavour, character and expression from one produced by our Tasman cousins.
Today, Sauvignon Blanc is a truly global variety. South Africa and Chile have cornered the commercial end of the market, producing vibrant, zesty wines that are excellent value. Californian styles are big and rich, often with a background of oak. However it is in its homeland of France where Sauvignon Blanc really shines, particularly in the great Loire regions of Sancerre and Pouilly Fume. It is here that winemakers place great emphasis on complexity, setting their wines apart from the highly fruited new world styles.
When drinking Sauvignon Blanc, it is best to serve very cold. It
is a most perfect partner for seafood, particularly oysters. For
maximum enjoyment, select a wine from the most recent vintage, where
freshness and intensity are at a maximum.
© Toni Paterson 2004