Cat's pee on a gooseberry bush.
That was my first level introduction to sauvignon blanc. For a keen enthusiast, this was terrifying (you want me to drink what?) and relieving (finally, wine descriptors that make sense). Of course, sauvignon blanc is much more than that memorable phrase. This green-skinned grape most likely hails from France’s Loire Valley, where it can blindingly shine in the Kimmeridgian limestone and silex flint. The third most planted white variety in France, sauvignon blanc (from the French for sauvage, meaning wild), is also comfortably seated in Bordeaux, blending in harmony with semillon; and also throughout Languedoc-Roussillon, contributing greatly to simple and tart Pays d’Oc. The highly vigorous grape is widely adaptable, spreading as easily worldwide as its tangled and aggressive foliage. All things green are its hallmark: grass, hedge, meadow, asparagus, kiwi, green peppers, gooseberries, and passionfruit and elderflower in warmer climates. Crisp, piercing acidity permeates all wines, save for those harvested in the hottest regions, and helps preserve freshness and zest in late harvest or oaked examples.
The grape rocketed to fame over the past 20 years in New Zealand, finding a prime home for a concentrated, pungent, fresh and unoaked style. It was first planted in NZ in 1973 and now accounts for approximately 75% of production and 85% of all NZ wine exports. Over 25,000 hectares of vineyard land are devoted to growing the grape, 75% of that is planted in Marlborough (22k+ ha), followed by Hawke's Bay (1k+ ha) and Nelson (0.6k ha). Each regional style is unique, shaped by climate, and soils, even distinctively within Marlborough. If you incorrectly think all NZ sauvignon blanc tastes the same, I urge you to seek out regional examples, like on the list below.
To cheers to International Sauvignon Blanc Day on May 7, 2021, here are our Top 10 recently tasted savvies spanning the globe.