Marlborough and Beyond; Sauvignon blanc.

By on May 3rd, 2022 in Blog
Spread the love

First up, International Sauvignon Blanc Day. On Friday 6th May the world pays homage to one of the white wine success stories of the last 20+ years. Marlborough, New Zealand may well be the capital of Sauvignon blanc but what else is out there? We look beyond this fabled region to explore the past, present and future of this incredibly popular variety.


marlborough sauvignon blanc banner kiwi blog


Origins, heartlands and capitals

Originating in Bordeaux, where it makes up most of the region’s white wine plantings, it’s the Loire Valley that is France’s Sauvignon blanc epicentre. With a huge amount of vineyard land given over to this one grape variety, it is Europe’s Sauvignon heartland.

Further afield, Sauvignon has taken up residence in the cooler parts of California to spectacular effect. Chile is another country leading the way in offering high quality, excellent value Sauvignon that ticks all the boxes. And then, of course, there’s New Zealand’s Marlborough region. It’s the undisputed international capital of the variety thanks to a combination of climate, soil type, sustainable vine growing and clever winemaking.

Here we look at four wines from these far-flung corners that help illustrate this delicious grape’s rise to global popularity and critical acclaim.

France via Norway to Chile

Norway isn’t known for its winemaking which means Norwegian winemakers pretty rare. Dan Odfjell is one such rare beast. A career in shipping warranted much global travel and on one particular Chilean voyage in the 1980’s he discovered the unparalleled beauty of the Maipo Valley, just south of Chile’s capital, Santiago. Fast forward 40 years and Dan and his two sons now tend vines and make wine in three of Chile’s most prestigious regions including Maipo, Maule and San Antonio Valleys.

Sauvignon blanc tends to do particularly well in areas with a strong coastal influence (think France’s Loire Valley and Bordeaux regions). So the San Antonio Valley’s position just 15km from the Pacific offers ideal growing conditions for their Odfjell’s Armador Sauvignon Blanc.

Hitting all our favourite Savvy b. notes of citrus, gooseberry, cut grass and fresh herbs, this is first-rate Chilean Sauvignon blanc winemaking.

odfjell sauvignon blanc marlborough comparison

Touraine or not Touraine?

Next, we travel to the European heartland of Sauvignon production, the Loire Valley. Touraine is pretty much the middle of the valley which stretches from Nantes, a few miles inland from the coast to the small but well-known appellation of Pouilly-Fumé in the west.

Domaine François Cartier creates wines solely from Sauvignon blanc and sits at the western end of the region. Loads of sunshine, cooling valley breezes and top quality soils shine through the wine.

Their Touraine Sauvignon blanc is a refreshing, lighter style than some from this warm region. A testament to François’s tireless and diligent vineyard work. All the right gooseberry, capsicum and cut grass notes are present, with very pleasing pineapple and peach aromas. Nicely balanced acidity and a little creaminess help carry a lovely long finish. All in all, we just love this wine’s moreishness. It’s sure to keep you coming back for more!

francois cartier touraine sauvignon blanc marlborough blog

Marlborough Matters – New Zealand’s Finest

What more can be said about Marlborough Sauvignon blanc? Unquestionably the international capital of our featured grape, it’s risen to a unique level of prominence. Warm, sunny days, cool nights, sea breezes and well-drained soils make this Sauvignon-growing heaven.

20 years ago, Sue and Greg White dropped anchor off the Marlborough sound and fell in love with the region. Understanding the amazing opportunity this fledgling winemaking region possessed, they soon found their first vineyard site and started planting. Plenty of hard work later the awards started piling up as recognition blossomed for Whitehaven in both Europe and the USA.

Sadly Greg lost his battle with cancer in 2007, but today Sue continues to maintain the family business with her relentless drive for excellence and desire to do Greg proud. Whitehaven Marlborough Sauvignon blanc is a stunning example of what you’d expect, except better. If there’s a better Marlborough Sauvignon out there, we certainly haven’t tasted it.

whitehaven marlborough sauvignon blanc

Partners for life – the Semillon to my Sauvignon

Now for something completely different… Earlier we mentioned Sauvignon accounts for the majority of Bordeaux’s white grape plantings. Well, Semillon is Bordeaux’s second most grown white variety and the two are often blended. Semillon has a richer, less acidic profile beautifully complementing Sauvignon’s leaner character. It’s also in Bordeaux that some of the finest oaked examples of this blend can be found. Some of, but not all…

Honig Winery in Napa Valley concentrates most of its efforts on Bordeaux’s two big hitters, Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon blanc. And like her Bordeaux counterparts, winemaker Kristin Belair understands the delights of blending a little Semillon with their Sauvignon and popping it in barrels.

Honig’s Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc Reserve is a masterful expression of this style. It has rich layers of buttered toast, vanilla cream, pears in honey and lemon pith balanced by refreshing acid. A genuinely exceptional wine.

honig reserve sauvignon blanc for marlborough blog