Grass, cat pee, jalapeño, rubber band ball, gooseberry, ammonia . . . gunflint? What do these things have in common? Sauvignon Blanc. You’ve probably heard of it because it’s one of the most widely planted white wine grape varieties in the world with 230,945 acres (!!!) under vine. You’ve probably heard of it because the Kiwis sold $1.25 billion worth of it last year. You’ve probably heard of it because there’s always a bottle in your mom’s fridge. But the famous and pungent New Zealand style just scratches the surface of the grape’s potential, because it’s a knockoff. The Sauv Blancs of the Loire Valley and Bordeaux were the groundbreakers. All three will face off today!
Though Sauvignon blanc as a name means “wild white grape” it has quite the noble family, being the parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, the offspring of Savagnin, and the sibling of Chenin Blanc. This nobility is reflected in the elegant and mineral French expressions that make the aggressively zesty Kiwi SBs seem like a car accident in a glass. But don’t be mistaken, I love New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc—just like I love the WWE: ironically, but laced with a deep feeling of beholden nostalgia.