Sauvignon Blanc beats the heat!

Baby, it’s hot out there!

sauvignonLooking for the perfect hot weather wine? It’s definitely Sauvignon Blanc (SB) on the top of the list. Crisp, cold and refreshing, it’s light in body yet full in flavor. SB’s distinctive herby yet fruity qualities make it a stand out from Chardonnay, which tends to fill your palate with weight since it is full-bodied. It’s like wearing a sweater when it’s 90 degrees. We’re less inclined to pull that out on a sweltering day.

SB grapes produce aromatically pungent wines with strong citrus (lemon, lime, grapefruit) and gooseberry tones along with grassy and herbal notes. Using the word “herbaceous”, “green” and even “cat piss”, yes you heard it right, as a descriptor of its bouquet (smell) will impress even wine connoisseurs. But don’t let that scare you away. SB is a beautiful wine and perfectly pairs with light seasonal food fare and even a bit of chocolate for dessert.

There are many styles of SB, so if you’ve tried one and have not been a fan it doesn’t mean you’ll dislike them all. While it traditionally has a “veggie” or “herby” flavor, the fruity and mineral-like character of it changes depending on the climate and the soil it’s grown in, or terroir. When looking at a label, check to see where it’s coming from and whether or not it’s a warm vs. cold region. Here are some general guidelines below. But remember that the winemakers add their own artistry, like blending with other grapes, so there will be variations from vineyard to vineyard.

Warm = more tropical fruit styles such as mangos, peaches and melons, California, Australia and Washington State

Cold = more citrus fruit styles such as lemongrass, grapefruit, lime and pears,  France, Chile and New Zealand

NZ vineyardSB Growing Regions

“Old World” – Loire Valley (France), Graves (Bordeaux, France),

“New World” –  New Zealand, Australia, California, Washington, Chile

SB’s homeland is the Loire region of France –  most famously from Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé. No other wine-producing region on earth can quite match the Loire Valley for the pungent citric, grassy style of SB along with a lovely flinty cement-like mineral character (Sprite-like).  New Zealand comes closest. SB from California ranges in style from minerally, grassy, and citric wines (more akin to examples made in the Loire Valley or New Zealand) to opulent, tropical-fruity wines. Try different ones and see what you like!

Here are some fun facts about Sauvignon Blanc:

  • The SB grape gets its name from the French word sauvage (“wild”) and blanc (“white”) due to its possible early origins as an indigenous grape growing all over southwestern France

  • Did you know that Sauvignon Blanc is the mother of Cabernet Sauvignon? The father was Cabernet Franc. This was proven in 1997 by DNA testing

  • Sancerre and Pouilly Fume are also SBs. This is because wines from France are usually labelled according to area or region rather than grape

  • Sancerre wines are generally more delicate than close-by Pouilly Fumé. Pouilly-Fume tends to be richer and a bit fuller-bodied, with greater aromatic pungency perhaps due to more flint in the soil

  • White Bordeaux is also a blend of Sauvignon Blanc mixed with Sémillon and Muscadelle grapes

  • Sauternes is an area of Bordeaux famous for its white dessert wine. This too is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon and Muscadelle

  • New Zealand has only been growing Sauvignon Blanc since the 1970s

  • Oaked Californian versions of SB are sometimes called Fumé Blanc

  • French SB is the best in the world, although New Zealand and other New World examples, from California, Washington, Chile, New Zealand and Australia, are rapidly improving

  • There’s little if anything to be gained by cellaring these wines. Go ahead and open that bottle!

Perfect pairings…

SB is perfect for lighter fare such as shellfish, spinach-artichoke dip, grilled veggies, garlic or Italian seasonings in creamy sauces, fragrant salads – like Greek, Caesar or Garden, Thai food, sushi, chicken and the list goes on. It’s good with just about anything other than heavy red foods such as steaks and marinara sauces.

Lemon Honey Panna CottaAnd even though it can easily melt in this heat, chocolate is always in order! Try pairing a 72% dark chocolate with a lemon filling, like our Lemon-Honey Panna Cotta, or a white chocolate that has a filling that features lemon, grapefruit, or matcha tea like our Gotcha Matcha. These complimentary flavors will enhance similar aromas and tastes in the wine.

Stay cool!

cropped Lisa press photoLisa Mecray Rogers, award-winning Master Chocolatier and Founder ofLuxx Chocolat® xquisite artisan chocolate, ChocoVin Chocolate & Wine Tastings® and Luxx Academy du Chocolat offering classes with adults in mind,  recognized as one of 2014 and 2013 Best Chocolatiers & Confectioners in America.

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