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Sauvignon blanc’s universal popularity is a testament to its unique and changeable taste. Grown widely in both the Old World and New World, each region offers up a distinct and delicious take on this most versatile of varieties.
A green-skinned grape that has become one of the most widely distributed in the world, is any summer gathering in Australia complete without a bottle of sauvignon blanc? With a natural crispness and freshness that appeals to the masses, it is now comfortably the most popular white wine consumed in Australia.
But what should a budding oenophile know about this variety over and above its famed drinkability?
From wild beginnings
The grape’s name offers hints to its past; its etymology is most likely from the French sauvage (''wild'') and blanc (''white''). It is most likely a grape indigenous to the southwest of France, although there have been suggestions that it is actually a descendent of the Savagnin grape (although definitive DNA evidence is still lacking).
“Today sauvignon blanc is Australia’s highest selling white wine, taking the title that chardonnay had held for decades. And through its use in SSB (semillon sauvignon blanc) blends, its popularity and importance shows no sign of receding.”
A chameleon on the palate
Sauvignon blanc titbits
- Sauvignon blanc, in partnership with cabernet franc, gave birth to cabernet sauvignon in the 18th century.
- Sauvignon blanc is comfortably the most planted grape variety in New Zealand, taking up more than 6 times the area of the next most popular vine (chardonnay).
- Production of sauvignon blanc in Australia has increased more than 40-fold in the last quarter century, and plantings are still increasing five times quicker than the average of other white varieties.