Sauvignon Blanc is on the rise. Partly because of the maturing of the American palate and partly because of the in your face style coming out of New Zealand. Either way, Sauvignon Blanc is a great alternative to Chardonnay.

Quick Sauvignon Blanc Facts:

Do not confuse Pouilly-Fumé and Pouilly Fuissé. Pouilly-Fumé is 100% Sauvignon Blanc and made in the Loire Valley. Pouilly Fuissé is 100% chardonnay from Burgundy.

When Robert Mondavi saw that his sauvignon blanc was not selling well, he decided to market it under the name "Fumé Blanc." The wine was identical to his earlier, poorly selling version. It is now closely associated with a rounder style of the wine often aged in oak barrels and mixed with the soft semillon grape.

New Zealand is farther south than Australia and therefore cooler. The country's largest and most important wine region is Marlborough. The Sauvignon Blanc produced there is unoaked (not aged in oak casks) and has a rich flavor and high acidity. New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is very distinctive, with aromas of asparagus, limes and cut grass.

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Click on the above link to return to the main wine and food page. There you will find a listing of twelve different varieties of wine and the menus specially chosen to create perfect pairings. Sauvignon Blanc may surprise you. Serve it with difficult to pair dishes like asparagus and tomato soup. Click the black bars above each photo to view the recipes.
The history of winemaking is so closely associated with the history France that it becomes difficult to speak of vinification without at least mentioning French involvement. As a country, France began to develop a national identity after the fall of the Roman Empire and the rise of the Catholic Church in the fifth century CE. We have already seen how monks were responsible for perfecting the vinification practices in Burgundy and Bordeaux and the same can be said for the history of the Sauvignon Blanc grape in the Loire Valley. It is known that by the year 380 wine was being produced in the temperate regions surrounding the Loire River. The great medieval historian, St. Gregory of Tours, wrote about the wonderful quality of wines from Sancerre in 582. Under the care of the Augustinian monks the prestige of the wine continued to grow through the 12th Century. The history of the local vineyards took an infamous turn in 1453 when their owner, Jacques Coeur, advisor to King Charles VII, was implicated in a murder. Coeur, a merchant prince, had many enemies among his debtors and they conspired against him by claiming he had poisoned the King's mistress. Even though the charges were trumped up, he was unfairly tried, fined millions of francs, lost his land and was imprisoned by order of the King. He died three years later. His home still stands as a tourist attraction in the city of Sancerre.
Concerning quality, the wines of the Loire Valley have always been considered second rate behind the more illustrious varieties of Burgundy and Bordeaux. But when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, two regions in particular, Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are among the best anywhere. These two areas face each other on opposite sides of the Loire River, France's longest. Situated in the heart of France approximately 100 miles south of Paris, the Loire Valley has seen a steady decrease in the vine planting acreage over the last several decades. Not so with Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume where the grape has survived and prospered in the stoney, well-draining soil.
Once again, however, European tradition is giving way to modern technology. In the case of Sauvignon Blanc this has resulted in the incredibly fast rise of a young wine-producing upstart. And this time it is not California or Australia. The new standard for this grape may very well be being produced, in of all places, New Zealand. A mere child in terms of winemaking expertise, the first grape vines of any type were planted by missionaries in 1819. But the history of Sauvignon Blanc in New Zealand is shorter still. The grape was introduced in the 1970's and in 30 short years New Zealand's version of a tart, acidic Sauvignon Blanc is now seen as the truest expression of this noble grape.