The IWSC has compiled a list of some the best Sauvignon Blancs currently available.
Sauvignon Blanc is one of the world’s most widely-planted grapes, and (alongside Chardonnay) one which gives rise to extreme opinions. Many people associate it with one particular style, the super-ripe, super-pungent wines of New Zealand. But that style (and it can be very good indeed) is only one facet of this most versatile grape.
Sauvignon’s European base is the Loire valley, in particular Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, where the long warm days and cool nights produce wines that are lean, fresh and aromatic – and ageworthy. In southwest France the Sauvignon is softened with Semillon, and producers like Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte and Domaine de Chevalier in Bordeaux produce some of the most sought-after white wines in the world.
New World Sauvignon Blanc, especially the cool-climate wines from Chile and even England, can be wonderfully refreshing and complex.
New Zealand is one New World country that has made Sauvignon its own. The signature style is often pungently green (some call it asparagus, others cats’ pee), but the world is calling for leaner, racier wines – which we've seen examples of in the IWSC 2020 awards.
South African Sauvignon Blanc can also be excellent. The country is warmer than New Zealand so the wines are riper and more generous, but the best have the racy acidity that is so important for structure and texture.
Article frst published on 1 May 2018 and updated on 5 May 2021.