Glass of Sauvignon Blanc wineOne of the world’s favourite white wines, Sauvignon Blanc is a drink that always attracts attention. No generic, neutral, once sipped, immediately forgotten variety, this is a strongly aromatic, acidic drink that you either love or hate. However, if you’ve been put off by a mouth-puckeringly, sucking on a lemon style of Sauvignon Blanc, don’t give up!

This refreshing and aromatic grape can in fact be made into so many other styles. The aromas and flavours can vary hugely, as can the acidity, depending on the climate where the grapes were grown, their level of ripeness and the winemaking technique. The following 7 styles of Sauvignon Blanc wine give you an idea of just how diverse this variety can be.

7 styles of Sauvignon Blanc wine

  1. Enjoying Sauvignon BlancWine from cool areas (the Loire, parts of New Zealand) can display grassy, herbaceous aromas and notes that have even been described as “cat’s pee”.
  2. Under-ripe fruit can produce wines with vegetal notes like tomatoes, green peppers, chilli peppers, grass or asparagus, which comes from their high pyrazine content.
  3. New World wines frequently have fresh citrus aromas, like lemons or grapefruit. If they are from a slightly warmer area, the wine can have more tropical fruit aromas; for instance you can often detect notes like pineapple and lime in Sauvignon Blanc wines from the Casablanca Valley in Chile.
  4. If the climate is even warmer, the wine will probably have a lower level of acidity and may have aromas of peaches and nectarines.
  5. Some producers pick the grapes at different levels of ripeness to give the wine a wide range of different aromas – notes of chilli peppers intermingled with citrus aromas, for instance.
  6. Some winemakers are experimenting with fermentation and maturation in oak, which can give the wine notes of sweet spices, creaminess and a honey texture and body. If the label says Fumé Blanc, it is likely to be a New World (especially US) Sauvignon Blanc with some oak-ageing.
  7. And of course, when blended with Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc can make sweet wines (often with botrytis), such as the world-famous Sauternes from Bordeaux.
Matetic winemaker Julio Bastías holds up freshly harvested Sauvignon Blanc grapes
Matetic winemaker Julio Bastías holds up freshly harvested Sauvignon Blanc grapes

While most Sauvignon Blanc is at its best enjoyed young and fruity, those wines with oak fermentation or ageing take a couple of years to reach their best and the likes of Sauternes can evolve for many years.

What’s your favourite style of Sauvignon Blanc? Do you have a favourite brand, producer or region?

If you are looking to try out some Chilean Sauvignon Blanc, check out the results from our recent tasting panel.

Glass of Chilean Sauvignon BlancNot for nothing is Sauvignon Blanc one of the world’s favourite white wine varieties. For many people this aromatic wine with its zesty acidity is the drink of choice to accompany salads, fish and shellfish dishes or as an appetizer. And let’s face it, what could be more refreshing than watching the sun go down with a glass of ice-cold Sauvignon Blanc?

In fact, it is the 8th most planted variety of wine grapevine in the world and Chile ranks third (after France and New Zealand) for having the largest area of Sauvignon Blanc vines. No wonder therefore that the stores have an almost overwhelming range of bottles to choose from.

The panel deliberating
The panel deliberating

With this in mind, we got together a tasting panel to blind taste 8 Chilean Sauvignon Blanc wines at two different price points. A big thank you to everyone who took part in the tasting panel: Natascha Scott-Stokes (British), Ximena Carolina de Rodt (Chilean), Loreto Fuchslocher (Chilean), Richard Dixon (Chilean-American), Bernardita Valenzuela (Chilean), Lauren Hand (USA), Ricardo Parada (Chilean) and Helen J. Conway (British).

Sauvignon Blanc wines in first flight: Cefiro and Cono SurSauvignon Blanc wines in first flight: Terra Noble and Bouchon

Results of first flight: Chilean Sauvignon Blanc wines under $5,000 Chilean pesos

  1. Terranoble Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Casablanca Valley. 13% ABV. (Retails in Chile at $4,490). 5.75 points
  2. Viña Casablanca Cefiro Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Casablanca Valley. 13.5% ABV (Retails in Chile at $4,990). 5.5 points
  3. Bouchon Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2016, Maule Valley. 13% ABV. (Retails in Chile at $4,590). 4.875 points
  4. Cono Sur Bicicleta Limited Edition Sauvignon Blanc 2015, D.O. unspecified. 12% ABV. (Retails in Chile at $2,800). 4.625 points
Chilean Sauvignon Blanc wines in second flight
Wines in second flight

Results of second flight: Chilean Sauvignon Blanc wines between $5,000 and $10,000

  1. Koyle Costa Cuarzo Sauvignon Blanc 2015, Paredones, Colchagua Costa. 13% ABV. (Retails in Chile at $8,490). 6.5 points
  2. Valdivieso Single Vineyard Wild Fermented 2012, Leyda Valley. 13% ABV. (Retails in Chile at $9,490). 6.125 points
  3. Bodega Volcanes de Chile Tectonia Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Leyda Valley. 13.5% ABV. (Retails in Chile at $9,990). 6 points
  4. Cono Sur Reserva Especial Sauvignon Blanc 2013, Casablanca Valley. 12.5% ABV (Retails in Chile at $5,200). 5.625 points

Overall favourite

Each panel member selected their overall favourite wine of the 8 tasted. The results were as follows:

  1. Koyle Costa Cuarzo Sauvignon Blanc 2015 – 4 votes
  2. Terranoble Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2015 – 3 votes
  3. Bodega Volcanes de Chile Tectonia Sauvignon Blanc 2013 – 1 vote

ice buckets of bottles of Sauvignon Blanc

My tasting notes

Terranoble Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2015.

Tropical fruit nose with pronounced notes of pineapples and limes, this was a clear favourite with some of the tasting panel members. Zesty citrus acidity in the mouth, almost like sherbert lemon. Very refreshing.

Viña Casablanca Cefiro Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2015.

A classical tropical fruit-driven wine with notes of pineapple and grapefruit, this wine had plenty of zingy acidity and was very refreshing.

Bouchon Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2016.

Perhaps the palest in colour, almost transparent, with aromas of passionfruit and green apple. Light, refreshing and easy to drink.

cono-sur-bici-and-terra-nobleCono Sur Bicicleta Limited Edition Sauvignon Blanc 2015.

This was my favourite among the first flight of wines, having a more subtle nose with some stone fruit (peaches, apricots) alongside green apple and the classic citrus aromas, like lime. This was a very pleasant, easy-drinking and less aggressively acidic wine than the others in the flight.

Koyle Costa Cuarzo Sauvignon Blanc 2015

This was the most herbaceous of all the wines in the two flights, with notes of green pepper, chilli pepper and grass intermingled with citrus notes like green lemons. Very elegant in the mouth, with citrus and herbaceous flavours again apparent. Very long finish.

Valdivieso Single Vineyard Wild Fermented 2012

An intriguing wine; very different to all the rest, as it had undergone six months’ oak-ageing, giving it much more body, deeper colour and a creamy texture that is unusual in Chilean Sauvignon Blanc. The nose was more complex, with notes of green apples, a slightly lactic note. This had a whole different mouthfeel to the other wines and was very pleasant. This wine would pair well with richer fish dishes or chicken.

Bodega Volcanes de Chile Tectonia Sauvignon Blanc 2013

A very classic style of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc with a lovely nose of tropical fruit aromas, like passionfruit, as well as a floral hint. This was a fresh, crisp, fruit-driven wine with zesty acidity and lots of personality.

Cono Sur Reserva Especial Sauvignon Blanc 2013

An interesting mixture of herbaceous and citrus aromas on the nose. On the palate, sherbert lemon flavours with that herbaceous note present again.

For more information about, check out my post: 7 Styles of Sauvignon Blanc.

Recently harvested Chilean Sauvignon Blanc grapes

Glenda Villalobos, Sommelier at Casas Patronales holds up Maucho
Glenda Villalobos, Sommelier at Casas Patronales holds up Maucho

Looking to splash out on a fine Chilean wine for a special occasion?  I recently went along to a premium winetasting event organized by Vinoteca at the Sheraton Miramar in Viña del Mar. The following wines were among the highlights.

limarvidaDe Martino Limárvida 2011, Maule Valley. (Retails in Chile at $17,000)

Old vine Malbec from a vineyard planted in 1945.

Deep ruby wine with a pronounced and complex nose with lots of black and red fruit, herbal and floral notes and a touch of coffee. . Big in every sense, this wine is full-bodied with lots of grippy tannins, fresh acidity and packed with flavour, including fruit and tobacco. This is a wine to go with hefty meals, such as red meat or cheese-based dishes.

More information about De Martino.

amplusViña Santa Ema Amplus One Carmenère 2013, Peumo in Cachapoal Valley. 14% ABV (Retails in Chile at $14,990, in the UK available from  Pioneer Wines at £14.00)

75% Carmenere, 20% Syrah, 5% Carignan. 12-14 months’ oak-ageing.

A complex and very perfumed nose featuring black fruit, like blackcurrants and blackberries, the classic Carmenère herbaceous notes of green pepper and chilli pepper, together with a floral note and then all the aromas from the oak-ageing, such as chocolate, coffee and leather. High acidity, high, grippy tannins, plenty of body and a long finish. The palate is very fruity with cigarbox notes. This is a big wine that will hold its own with big meals – barbecued meat, curry or dishes using strongly flavoured cheese.

More information about Viña Santa Ema.

Casas Patronales Maucho Carignan 2013, Cauquenes, Maule Valley. 14.5% ABV (Retails in Chile at $6,490)

8-10 months of ageing in 2nd use barrels.

Very nice. Deep purple wine with a pronounced nose of red fruit, together with some mineral and herbal notes, such as liquorice and chocolate from the oak-ageing. With high acidity, lots of smooth, ripe tannins and plenty of body, this fruity, mineral wine has a nice, long finish. A good choice for red meat or tomato-based pasta dishes.

More information about Casas Patronales.

vscViña Santa Carolina Cool Mountain Field Blend 2013, Curicó Valley. 13.5% ABV. (Retails in Chile at $9,790 and in the UK from Amazon at £41.97)

Field Blend resulting from the combination of different varieties (Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère) randomly distributed across a 60 year-old vineyard. 12 months’ ageing in neutral oak.

A very pleasant fresh, fruity wine with smooth, ripe tannins, this wine can be enjoyed on its own or will pair with a wide range of dishes.

Viña Santa Carolina VSC 2009, 14.7% ABV. (Retails in Chile at $24,900)

Petit Verdot, Petit Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenère, Malbec. 12 months’ oak ageing.

Deep ruby in colour, this wine had a complex nose of red and black fruit, intermingled with spice, floral notes of violets and dark chocolate. High acidity, pronounced, grippy tannins and fully body. In the mouth, this wine is packed with fruit and cigarbox flavours. Fairly long finish. Enjoy this with a full-flavoured meal.

More information about Viña Santa Carolina

canto-surJ. Bouchon Canto Sur 2015, Maule Valley. 13.4% ABV. (Retails in Chile at $6,990 and in the UK from Hawkshead Wines at £11.95)

54% Carmenère, 23% Carignan, 23% País. No oak ageing.

A bit shy to start, then opened out with red fruit aromas and a touch of spice. A fresh and fruity wine, light-bodied by Carmenère standards. This is a food-friendly wine that can be paired with a wide range of dishes or enjoyed on its own.

More information about Bouchon Family Wines.

Most of these wines are available in Chile from Vinoteca – see their website.