To mark international sauvignon blanc day, Peter Ranscombe reviews examples from Chile, New Zealand, and South Africa.
TIME after time, sauvignon blanc keeps topping the charts as the UK’s favourite white wine.
Just before the pandemic, Majestic Wine was the latest retailer to shine a light on the grape’s phenomenal success.
Sauvignon was its best-selling white variety – and received the most “I love it” votes in its national wine tasting.
It’s no wonder then that international sauvignon blanc day, which is marked today, also continues to go from strength to strength.
Started in 2010 by St Supéry Estate in California, trade body New Zealand Winegrowers has taken the idea and run with it.
This year, the Kiwis have teamed up with fellow promotional organisations Wines of Chile and Wines of South Africa to shine a light on southern hemisphere sauvignons.
Each of the three countries produces a wide variety of styles of sauvignon.
They range from simple and fruity dry wines through to more complex examples, with natural yeasts and barrel ageing.
This selection should act as a great introduction for anyone who’s wanting to spread their wings and try something new…
Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (£9.50, Co-op)
A long-standing benchmark for supermarket New Zealand sauvignon, and a firm favourite in the Ranscombe household for many years. Fresh and bright gooseberry, passionfruit, and guava on the nose, and then a kick of high acidity on the palate, balanced by more concentrated fruit flavours, with guava, passionfruit, and something akin to tinned gooseberry.
Craggy Range Te Muna Road Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (The Wine Society, £12.50)
A great example of a more complex Kiwi sauvignon, bringing back happy memories of similar wines from Kevin Judd at Greywacke. Pronounced and complex lemon rind and grapefruit, guava and passionfruit, and some more interesting spun sugar and red apple aromas. High acidity again, but balanced by more of those tropical fruit flavours, alongside lemon rind, apricot, spun sugar, and a squeeze of lime. Surprisingly textured, like lemon pith or dried apricot.
Huia Sauvignon Blanc 2018 (Wine Direct, £17.95)
My pick of the selection from Scotland’s antipodean twin. Jasmine, lemon curd, lemon sherbet, and dried apricot on the nose – something a bit viognier-like here. High acidity, textured lemon rind mouthfeel, plus juicy lemon, tinned peach, dried apricot, and lemon rind. Not sure I’d pick it out as sauvignon in a blind tasting, but a great-tasting wine nonetheless.
Errazuriz Aconcagua Costa Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (£9.99, Majestic Wine)
The most complex of the Chilean wines I sampled. Aromas of asparagus, guava, lemon, lemon rind, and even lime. More expressive on the palate, with gooseberry, guava, and passionfruit. Concentrated fruit, and quite elegant. Decent value too. Look out for Errazuriz’s Anconcagua Costa pinot noir too.
Hacienda Araucano Humo Blanco Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (£12.70, Tanners)
I reckon this is an ideal food-and-wine matching contender – plenty of fresh acidity, with some delicious savoury flavours, centring around lemon rind and brighter fresh lemon. It’s a decent price for a wine produced using biodynamic methods too.
Miguel Torres Chile Las Mulas Sauvignon Blanc Organic 2020 (£9.49, Waitrose)
Great to see an emphasis being put on organic grapes here in a competent offering from wine giant Miguel Torres. Lemon, lemon sherbet, and a touch of asparagus on the nose. More tropical on the palate, with guava, passionfruit, and lemon to balance its acidity.
Neethlingshof The Jackal’s Dance Single Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (2019: £15.99, Hedley Wright)
Pronounced aromas of gooseberry and asparagus lead into equally concentrated gooseberry, guava, and lemon curd on the palate, balanced by fresh acidity. A noticeable step-up in quality from Neethlingshof’s entry-level sauvignon blanc, which I tried alongside the winery’s other bottles back in March. There’s a lot of flavour here for the price, with quite a savoury green bean and bell pepper finish.
Waterkloof Circumstance Sauvignon Blanc 2020 (£12.25, Exel Wines; £13.50, Woodwinters)
A good introduction to South African sauvignon, with a mix of cut grass and passionfruit on the nose that sits somewhere between France’s Loire Valley and New Zealand’s Marlborough region. It’s the tropical combination of gooseberry, passionfruit and guava that comes to the fore on the palate to balance the acidity.
Bruce Jack Sauvignon Blush 2020 (£7, Asda, Sainsbury’s)
And finally… what happens if you blend 3% shiraz into your sauvignon blanc? You get a pink blush and an interesting mix of flavours. It’s shiraz’s blackcurrant aromas that mask the sauvignon on the nose – along with some intriguing wood smoke and meaty notes – before the white grape’s guava, passionfruit, and lemon reassert themselves on the palate, before blackcurrant makes a reappearance on the finish. I can see this working well at a barbecue, with enough acidity to take on bangers or burgers.
For more sauvignon blanc suggestions, check out last year’s #SauvBlancDay blog entry.