Saved by the sauv (blanc)
Sav blanc might be made by the bucketload but there’s a reason it’s popular all over the world. It’s an easy drop to drink. Yes, it might be seen as a boring gateway wine. But fair suck of the sav! It’s always reliable. This is a dry, crisp and acidic drop that always delivers a refreshing hit. But not all savvy bees are the same. This variety can taste very different from region to region. And method matters, too.
Don’t be a sniffy wine snob and overlook the sav. SB is still worthy of a spot in your wine fridge. Let’s dig deeper.
The different types of sauvignon blanc
There are two different methods when it comes to making sav blancs: aging in an oak barrel or fermenting in stainless steel vats.
Type 1: Oak-aged sauvignon blancs
Fumé Blanc is “a smoky sauvignon style”. This is achieved by fermenting some of the fruit in oak barrels. It’s usually the Sauvignon Blanc grape, but in some cases also includes Semillon.
Plot twist. The name fumé blanc is French but the term was actually devised by the American winemaker Robert Mondavi in the 1960s. Being a marketing whiz, he wanted to put a new spin on the sauvignon blanc grape, which was considered boring at the time. His solution? He renamed it fumé (French for smoke) blanc (French for white).
Type 2: Stainless steel sauvignon blancs
These are the sav blanc wines we’re more familiar with. Instead of an oak barrel, the grape is aged in a stainless steel or concrete vat, which results in that signature high acidity and floral aroma we associate with the sav. But within this style there are different variations among regions and winemaking choices. Let’s take the savvy blanc style ride…
New Zealand sauvignon blanc
Sipping on a fruity Marlborough sauv blanc became uber popular from the mid-1980s and beyond. And why not? This Kiwi variation is a winner, with its pronounced passion and gooseberry notes coming to the fore. The nation’s cool climate makes sauvignon blanc its most planted grape. It’s also continuing to evolve. It’s a refreshing and aromatic drop at an accessible price. Reliable and affordable. What’s not to love?
Sancerre from the Loire Valley in France
Sauvignon blanc is the grape, and Sancerre is the name of the region in France’s Loire Valley. Pinot noir is also a regional speciality, but it’s the white grape wine that is more famous. A delicious, dry drop with more mineral character than its Kiwi counterpart. That’s thanks to the limestone-rich soils in Loire. (Soil lover alert.) Sancerre is considered by many wine critics to be the best sav blanc in the world. Fantastique.
Adelaide Hills sauvignon blanc
Cool-climate classic grapes like sauvignon blanc are the business in South Australia. The Adelaide Hills region has become the place in Australia to produce our best savvy bees. With an aromatic, fuller flavour — think honeydew and peach — these are not your typical tropical or grassy drops. The SA version of SB is more textured, edgy and dry. Perfect with a summer seafood feast.
South African sauvignon blanc
For a zingy version of the white grape, it’s to South Africa’s Western Cape we go. These are affordable wines with zesty notes. Just like a holiday in a glass. Most of the affordable drops are unoaked although you will find barrel fermented drops from smaller vineyards near Stellenbosch.
Semillon and sauv blanc blends (SSB)
Just like any good duo, each grape knows that the best relationships need balance. In this blend, Savvy B brings the character and acid. Semillon is the underrated gem with backbone and complexity. Try a Margaret River blend and pair with some pan-fried scallops or fish with butter and lemon.
So mofo, try a few styles of sauvignon blanc to taste the difference and get back on the savvy wagon.