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Unraveling the Charms of Sauvignon Blanc
Aurora Cellars Sauvignon Blanc

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Sauvignon Blanc. It is a wine that charms wine enthusiasts around the globe with its distinct and vibrant character. With a rich history dating back centuries and its roots tracing to the scenic vineyards of France’s Loire Valley, Sauvignon Blanc has evolved into one of the most beloved and sought-after varietals in the world of winemaking. From its zesty citrus notes to its grassy and herbaceous aromas, this white wine delights the senses and offers a delightful experience with each sip. In this blog, we will embark on a delightful journey to explore the nuances, origins, and unique qualities of Sauvignon Blanc. We will delve into its various regional expressions and uncover why it remains an enduring favorite among oenophiles. Whether you’re a seasoned wine aficionado or a curious novice, prepare to savor the essence of Sauvignon Blanc and discover what makes it so special among its vinous counterparts.

Origination

The grape in which this wine is produced originated in western France. The actual region that can be considered Sauvignon Blanc’s homeland is unknown because both Bordeaux and the Loire claim it as their own, research shows.

The Loire region is considered to be a cool climate wine growing region, just like the Leelanau Peninsula. Because Lake Michigan doesn’t completely freeze, it is able to act as a moderating influence for surrounding temperatures, creating the ideal macro-climate for grapes. The large amounts of snow cover that the grapes receive act as a protective insulating cover for the vines through the winter and into early spring. This allows growers to produce more sensitive and hard to grow varieties like Sauvignon Blanc.

Arguably, the iconic appellations for this beloved variety are the Upper Loire regions of Sancerre and the neighboring area of Pouilly-Fumé. In these regions, the grapes used in white wines appear alone with little to no oak interaction. Wines in the region are mineral, citrusy, steely, bright and reasonably long-lived. 

In Pouilly-Fumé, wines receive their name from the smokey, gunflint characteristics associated with the wines of the area. “Pouilly Fumé means “smoked Pouilly. The smokey, gunflint note provides the origin of the Fumé Blanc style of wine that was established in California.

Experts explain that it is relatively rare to find Bordeaux white wines that are 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Bordeaux argues that it is the homeland of Sauvignon Blanc because its hallmark variety Cabernet Sauvignon is the offspring of Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc. Prestigious white wines of this region are produced from blends of Sauvignon and Semillon, mostly associated with the Pessac-Leognan and wider Graves appellations south of Bordeaux city.

These wines use varying proportions of the two grapes and are generally fermented and/or aged in oak barriques, which gives the signature texture and a mix of herbal and tropical fruit aromas. 

New Zealand has redefined the global standing of Sauvignon Blanc. Since the 1980s, Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc, has captured the hearts of the vast market across the globe. Sauvignon Blanc accounts for more than three-quarters of the country’s wine exports. Producers are able to retain the grape’s naturally high acidity by producing it with high yields and fermenting it in stainless steel tanks. 

Characteristics

Consumers like Sauvignon Blanc for its straightforwardness. The aromas of a classic Sauvignon Blanc can range from grass, nettles, and asparagus to green apples and gooseberries – or even more esoteric notes such as cats’ pee, blackcurrant leaf and gunflint. If you are smelling the latter, it is a good possibility that you are drinking a wine from Pouilly-Fumé. If you are smelling more tropical scents, including grapefruit, mango, and star fruit, you are tasting a New World Sauvignon Blanc.

When it comes to the palate, Sauvignon Blanc usually produces a light to medium body with high acid levels and moderate alcohol. If the producer is wanting to increase the complexity, they will need to do work in the vineyard that will restrict yields while stirring lees.

This variety of wine is usually made to be a dry, still white wine. But, some producers in Marlborough, New Zealand will sparkling wine with or leave a touch of sugar for richness. It is also used to make the famous Bordeaux dessert wine, Sauternes, where it is typically blended with Semillon and/or Muscadelle, says Wine Enthusiast.

Food Pairings

In the words of Wine Folly, “ When in doubt, go green.” If you are looking to pair a glass of Sauvignon Blanc with a nice meal, you won’t go wrong with herb-driven sauces over chicken, tofu, or fish dishes. It will also pair well with feta or chèvre and herb-driven Thai or Vietnamese cuisine. Other pairings include:

Meat Pairing: The wine is light, so keep your pairings light: try chicken, turkey, pork, halibut, crab, lobster, haddock, bass, cod, salmon, oysters w/ mignonette, calamari, or smoked salmon

Cheese Pairing: Seek out soft, flavorful cheeses like this warm goat cheese salad. Goat cheese, burrata, mozzarella di bufala (in a caprese salad), goat gouda, feta, parmesan, ricotta salata, yogurt, crème fraîche, or sour cream.

Vegetable Pairing: Inspirations include cucumber dill salad, fried zucchini, asparagus risotto, and Greek pasta salad. Try green peas, arugula, tomato, artichoke, lemon, lime, zucchini, bell pepper, eggplant, leek, and green bean.

Spices & Herbs: Mint, dill, cilantro, chive, rosemary, basil, thyme, bay leaf, caper, pesto, garlic, and green olive.

When it came time to harvest our Sauvignon Blanc, our team went for maximization of varietal character. In order to achieve this, our winemaking team crushed the fruit and let it soak in the skins in an anoxic environment for an extended period of time. This process also helped the juice soak up the precursors of the pleasant aromatic compounds.

Our 2022 Sauvignon Blanc offers bright, citrus notes with some minerality on the nose. Your palate will be pleased with the crispness and deliciousness that comes with every sip. It is a Wine Club Exclusive wine. If you would like to purchase a bottle, join one of our wine clubs for free online or in our tasting room.

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