More On the Amazing Sauvignon Blanc Grape

The Sauvignon Blanc grape is one of the most widely planted wine grapes in the world.  While the Sauvignon Blanc grape is most famously associated with the France's Loire Valley regions of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, it most likely originated in Bordeaux. Today, this versatile grape is successfully producing great wines throughout the world including Italy, Spain, Ukraine, Romania, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, and the United States.

Like many other grapes with "Blanc" in their name, it is a light-skinned grape that produces white wine. The literal translation of "Blanc" is white while "Sauvignon" is derived from the French word sauvage, which means wild, because the grape grew like a weed throughout the region. So, Sauvignon Blanc is a wild white grape.

Sauvignon Blanc, like many other wines, can take on different flavors depending on where it is grown. In France's Loire Valley it tends to have the distinctive flavors of freshly cut grass, green apples, lime, kiwi, green melon, gooseberry and earthy minerals associated with the regions limestone soil.  In France's Bordeaux region, Sauvignon Blanc can have flavors of white peach, lemon curd, and nectarine. But when grown in cooler climates like New Zealand, the Sauvignon Blanc grape produces wines with flavors of pink grapefruit, lemon, lime and passion fruit. Regardless of the region, Sauvignon Blanc is a highly acidic wine, but considered light-bodied.

In somewhat of a twist, the Sauvignon Blanc grape, that produces white wine, naturally crossbred with the Cabernet Franc grape, that produces red wine, during the 18th century in Bordeaux to create what we now call Cabernet Sauvignon. Both the parent and the offspring have become two of the most widely planted wine-producing grapes in the world.

So, there you go. Sauvignon Blanc is a nice, tangy, "zingy" wine that can be enjoyed on its own or with a variety of meals. And, by the way, it's a great beginner's wine. Give it a try! Cheers!

Behind the Cork™ Wine of the Week - Simi Sauvignon Blanc ($13)

This Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc has zesty notes of tangerine, lime and grapefruit.  It is produced in stainless steel tanks that retain the refreshing, full and vibrant fruity flavors of the wine.



What is Fumé Blanc?

I was recently asked about Fumé Blanc. And, as you might guess, it's made from the Fumé Blanc grape.  Except, you'd be wrong. Just like I was.  Fumé Blanc wine is produced from the Sauvignon Blanc grape.

It was back in 1966 that wine maker Robert Mondavi decided to grow Sauvignon Blanc grapes in Napa Valley, California. But Sauvignon Blanc had developed a bit of a negative reputation for being poorly made, too grassy and too sweet. So, in what turned out to be a great marketing ploy, he decided to call his Sauvignon Blanc wine by another name. And the name he chose had a lot to do with fine Sauvignon Blanc wines from France.

In the Loire Valley of central France (South of Paris) is the wine region of Pouilly-Fumé.  This region, along with the region of Sancerre, which lies just across the Loire River to the west, is best known for its Sauvignon Blanc wines. And these wines were a strong influence on Robert Mondavi. So, in honor of the wonderful Sauvignon Blanc wines of Pouilly-Fumé, Mondavi named his wine made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape Fumé Blanc.

One of the primary differences between the Sauvignon Blanc wines of France and Fumé Blanc is that Fumé Blanc spends some time aging in oak barrels. The French Sauvignon Blanc wines are generally not aged in oak.  This oak aging can give Fumé Blanc a bit more of a rich, creamy taste to go along with the green flavors of pear, melon and mineral notes (think chalk, slate and wet stone).

Next time I'll give you a bit more about Sauvignon Blanc. It has a famous child. Can you guess? So in the meantime, raise a glass of Fumé Blanc to the late, great, Robert Mondavi. Cheers!

Behind the Cork™ Wine of the Week - Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc ($15)

Originated by Robert Mondavi in 1966, this Sauvignon Blanc spends time aging in oak to give it a bit more of a rich, creamy taste along with the green flavors of pear, melon and mineral notes. If you are a Chardonnay drinker and not so sure about Sauvignon Blanc, then you need to try this Fumé Blanc.