Described as ‘exuberant’, this white wine grape ranks among the 7 most widely planted cultivars in the world. It boasts a broad-ranging aromatic spectrum and shows different characters depending on where it is grown. It has many enthusiasts, and every year it has its own day on the first Friday in May (6 in 2022). Its name is Sauvignon blanc. But where does it come from and what is its aroma profile? We take a closer look at this on-trend international grape variety and the international competition dedicated to it.
- The origins of Sauvignon
- What is its acreage and where is it grown?
- What is Sauvignon blanc’s aromatic spectrum?
- How well does Sauvignon age?
- The Concours Mondial du Sauvignon
The origins of Sauvignon
According to the Concours Mondial du Sauvignon website, “Sauvignon is a grape variety of French origin, and is probably a descendant of Savagnin”. More specifically, the Guide Hachette points to origins in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux. Different regions have different names for it so, for example, in Pyrénées-Atlantiques it is referred to as Savagnou and as Libournais in the Dordogne.
What is its acreage and where is it grown?
According to a 2017 report by the OIV (International Organisation of Vine & Wine), Sauvignon blanc covers 123,000 hectares worldwide. It ranks seventh among the 10 main grape varieties planted globally. By way of comparison, the world’s most widely planted grape variety is Cabernet-Sauvignon with 341,000 hectares. One third of global Sauvignon acreage is located in France, primarily in Languedoc-Roussillon (29 % of French Sauvignon blanc), the Loire (27 % of the region’s white grape varieties) and Bordeaux (45 % of the region’s white grape varieties).
It is grown in 30 other countries, mainly New Zealand, Chile, South Africa, the United States, Australia, Bulgaria, Spain and even Mexico.
What is Sauvignon blanc’s aromatic spectrum?
It boasts a broad-ranging aromatic spectrum. It is referred to as exuberant because one of its hallmark features is often its aromatic intensity on the nose and on the palate. As the Concours Mondial du Sauvignon website explains: “It is distinctively very fresh with notes of citrus fruits (lemon, grapefruit, orange), white flowers (linden, iris) and herbal aromas (boxwood, cut grass) in cooler climates. In sunnier wine regions, tropical notes (passion fruit and pineapple) are often predominant and mesh with pink grapefruit aromas stemming from volatile thiols formed after alcoholic fermentation”. It shows at its best in cool, temperate climates.
How well does Sauvignon age?
Its average ageability is around 5 years, rising to 20 years or more for noble rot wines. Barrel ageing can extend its lifespan.
The Concours Mondial du Sauvignon
With a now global fan base, this on-trend grape variety has its own competition, the Concours Mondial du Sauvignon. The 13th iteration of the event took place in the town of Torres Vedras, Portugal in March 2022. “This is the largest and most important competition for Sauvignon wines on the planet”, stressed Quentin Havaux, the competition’s organiser. Over 2 days, 1,120 entries from 23 producer countries (including France, Italy, Austria, New Zealand, South Africa and Chile) were tasted blind by sommeliers, distributors, journalists and influencers from every strand of the industry.
The five most awarded wine countries at the event were France, Austria, Italy, South Africa and the Czech Republic. The region with the highest number of accolades this year was the Loire Valley with 100 medals. Styria (Austria) ranked second with 71 awards. “This year, barrel-aged Austrian wines identified as oaky proved to be extremely popular with judges”, said one expert. Bordeaux, which also matures some Sauvignon in barrels, ranked third with 22 medals. As journalist and wine judge Sharon Nagel pointed out: “Producers are leveraging the varietal’s potential to wow consumers, and grow their global audience”. We will be exploring this long-term trend soon on our website: https://www.bourrasse.com/en/news/