Sauvignon Blanc’s beginnings can be traced to Bordeaux, France, where the gravelly soil of Graves and nearby Bergerac allow a foundation that is often blended with partner Semillon for production of White Bordeaux. Further south, in Sauternes, it is treated differently, allowed to develop a thick skin of sticky fungus – a disease called Botrytis Cinerea – that preserves the juice within the grape skins, converting it into an intensely sweet liquid that is eventually pressed out, vinified, and bottled. It is also produced further south in warm Languedoc-Roussillon, northern Italy’s cool Collio region, and Alto Adige also. Not to be left out, though, northern France’s Loire valley, lying three-hundred-and-seventy-three kilometers from Bordeaux, produces the nation’s most renowned white wine names, including Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumè.
Still, the grape has adapted well to other, New World environments, too. Famously thriving in New Zealand, it is also found in Chile. The purpose today, however, is to analyze its aroma and flavor as pertinent to contributions from two other regions, Napa Valley and the Adelaide Hills of Australia.
The first sample was of Napa Valley’s Markham Sauvignon Blanc. This wine, 92% Sauvignon Blanc and 8% Semillon, is fermented in steel before being transferred to neutral wood tanks, where acidity has a chance to soften. Its aroma suggests a little honeysuckle, but primarily smells of grapefruit, gooseberry, and a bit of grass. The flavor is racy, with all scents represented, but with the addition of a sly acidity on the finish. The second sample was Groom’s Sauvignon Blanc from Adelaide Hills, the only suitable region for Sauvignon Blanc in South Australia. Unlike Markham, it is composed of 100% Sauvignon Blanc that only sees stainless steel aging before being bottled. This is quite different. Aromatically, it truly expresses the land, reflecting the soil content of the area in which the grapes grow, with additional grass and a bit of citrusy lime. Like Markham, it is also honest in flavor, showing elements of its aroma, yet with a weightier, silkier texture than its Napa counterpart.