Life Beyond Sauvignon Blanc
For many, the Sauvignon Blanc grape is the epitome of summer in a glass. It’s fresh, flavoursome and deliciously refreshing. As we prepare to spring into summer, Jeremy Dunn, Chief Wine Tutor at Norfolk Wine School, explores other wines that will tickle your fancy if you like Sauvignon and shares his top 3 alternative wine recommendations for lovers of this great grape.
Sauvignon Blanc was born in France but it’s more likely than not that the Sauvignon Blanc chilling in your fridge is from Marlborough, New Zealand which is the modern-day home of this noble grape. Over the last twenty years New Zealand has done an amazing job with Sauvignon Blanc. Marlborough Sauvignon is a young, fresh and punchy style, famous for its pungent nose of asparagus and freshly cut grass, that ticked all the boxes as UK wine drinkers looked for the next big thing in white wine post Pinot Grigio, a wine whose popularity was driven partly by its distinctly neutral character.
Now, I’m not knocking Sauvignon Blanc, from New Zealand or anywhere else. However, with such a distinctive taste and flavour profile Sauvignon Blanc is a great grape to use as a launch pad to explore and find exciting new whites that will unlock a whole new world of wine.
The easiest way to find a new wine for Sauvignon lovers is to look for a wine that blends Sauvignon Blanc with another grape variety. Lots of winemaker’s blend Sauvignon Blanc because it has qualities that bring out the best in other grape varieties. It’s most commonly blended with Semillon. Sauvignon brings a young, racy freshness to the table while Semillon brings a distinctive lemony character and most importantly, weight and longevity. If you like Sauvignon then a Bordeaux style blend, the traditional name given to a blend of Sauvignon & Semillon, is more than likely going to float your wine boat.
The Sauvignon Blanc grape is naturally high in acidity. It’s acidity that makes the side of your tongue tingle. The next logical step is therefore to explore other white grapes that are naturally high in acidity. The Albariño grape from Spain is a go to grape for acidity. It’s grown mainly in Galicia, in the north-west of Spain where it’s relatively cool and wet, the ideal conditions for retaining acidity in grapes. Albariño also has a clean, fresh flavour profile but is more restrained than a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc. Other grapes naturally high in acidity include Melon de Bourgogne, the grape behind Muscadet from the Loire Valley in France and Chardonnay grown in a cool climate, for example Chablis in France.
Here are my top 3 wine recommendations for fans of Sauvignon Blanc who are looking to tempt their taste buds with something familiar, but different:
Sixty Clicks Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2015, Victoria, Australia
Harper Wells, stores in Ber St, Norwich & Eaton £9.99
An absolute cracker. A Bordeaux style blend that’s fresh and grassy on the nose with a slightly herbal quality followed by a piercing palate of zesty citrus fruit. Will age gracefully for a couple of years. Impressive stuff.
The Adnams Selection Albariño 2015, Rias Baixas
Adnams stores across the county £9.99
A great introduction to Albariño with a wonderfully clean and crisp Sauvignon-like structure that’s followed by gentle layers of crowd-pleasing peachy fruit. Delicious.
Screaming Betty Vermentino 2015, Riverland, Australia
Harper Wells, stores in Ber St, Norwich & Eaton £13.99
A highly individual and quirky wine made in fresh & fruity style with more than enough character to appeal to fans of Sauvignon Blanc. Made from the little know native Italian grape Vermentino, this wine is bright and sassy with a satisfying streak of lime-laced acidity. Punchy stuff, packed with flavour.