One of the classic Vinifera grapes, the Sauvignon Blanc has enjoyed success in many corners of the winegrowing world, mostly in cooler climates. Though susceptible to mildew and rot, Sauvignon Blanc is a vigorous varietal whose wines have become synonymous with "light and crisp." From its origins in the Bordeaux region of France, Sauvignon Blanc has gained fame for producing wines that are high in acidity, citrus fruits, minerals, herbs and a grassy character that can be pleasant when yields are low and downright ammonia-esque when the grapes are not fully ripe. Common are aromas and flavors of grapefruit, lime zest, slate, fresh grass, straw or even a certain smoky character when the wine hails from the Loire valley's Pouilly-Fumé. Most versions are best consumed young and fresh. Sauvignon Blanc also takes well to Botrytis (as in the world-famous wines of Sauternes) and produces sweet wines of considerable depth, character and aging potential. Rosés made from the Sauvignon Gris (so named for the color of its skin though it is genetically the same) can also be quite nice.
Originally from Bordeaux where it is often blended with Sémillon in both dry and Botrytised versions, Sauvignon Blanc can also be found through much of the rest of France. Especially fine examples are made in the Loire valley (Tourraine, Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé) as well as in Chablis (Sauvignon de St.-Bris) and in the southern areas of Languedoc and Rousillon. It can be found across the border in northern Italy (Friuli) and Austria where it is known as Muskat-Silvaner. Though Sauvignon Blanc may also be found in Australia, South Africa and South America, it is in California and New Zealand that it has found some of its greatest success. In the 1960s Robert Mondavi cleverly renamed the grape Fumé Blanc and a revolution was born. Today Sauvignon Blanc grows throughout California with fine examples that range from dry and light to more full, oak-aged examples that border on Chardonnay-like richness. Sauvignon Blanc has put the New Zealand wine industry on the globe as the bright fruits, gooseberries, and insanely high acidity levels found within these wines have become quite popular.