Sauvignon Blanc came to America in the 1880s from France, changing over the years from a sweet style to a dry wine. In France, it is widely blended in the Bordeaux with Semillon, but Loire Valley wines made from Sauvignon Blanc, such as Pouilly Fume and Sancerre, are most often 100% Sauvignon Blanc and usually made without the use of oak. In America, it often appears under the alias Fume Blanc, a named coined by Robert Mondavi in 1968.
So different from Chardonnay in all its buttery roundness, Sauvignon Blanc is taut, lithe and herbal with acidity that vibrates through the wine and aromas and flavors that include grass, straw, hay, smoke, green tea and green herbs.
Besides France and California, Sauvignon Blanc is produced successfully in New Zealand and South Africa, Chile and Argentina and, to a lesser degree of production, in Washington State, Australia and Italy, where it is expanding.
Of special note are the white Sancerres produced in the eastern part of the Loire Valley since they tend to be less herbaceous and grassy than the Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand and the northern region of Italy. When contrasted with the Sauvignon Blancs in California, Washington, Chile and South America, Sancerre Blancs tend to exhibit more assertive mineral flavors.
Sauvignon Blanc is usually quite distinctive and one of the easier varietal wines to recognize by its often sharp, aggressive scent. The most common aromas are vegetal (bell pepper, green olive and asparagus), herbaceousness (grass, weeds, lemongrass and gooseberry) and fruity (grapefruit, lime and melon). Common flavors are vanilla, toast and flint.
Dry-style Sauvignon or Fume Blancs pair well with food elements such as tomatoes, bell peppers, cilantro, raw garlic, smoked cheeses and other pungent flavors that would clash with or overpower many Chardonnays and almost all other dry white wines. In fact, Sauvignon Blanc is probably the best dry white wine to accompany the greatest variety of foods.
Sauvignon Blanc (especially those from the Loire Valley like Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume) may be the one wine best suited for pairing with cheeses, largely because it has exuberant fruit, crisp acids, a bit of earthy mineral, herb and grass, and usually very little wood tone and tannins. Specific cheeses that go well with Sauvignon Blanc include Asiago, Boursin, Brie, Brillat-Savarin, Bucheron, Camembert, Cheddar (sharp), Cheshire, Chevre, Colby, Crottin, Dry Jack, Edam, Emmental, Epoisses, Feta, Fromage Blanc, Gouda, Gruyere, Jarlsberg, Le Chavrot, Mahon, Monterey Jack, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Port Salut, Provolone, Ricotta, Roquefort, Teleme and Tomme de Savoie.
Sancerre is a French wine appellation for wine produced in the environs of the village of Sancerre in the eastern part of the Loire Valley, southeast of Orleans. Almost all of the appellation lies on the left bank of the Loire River, opposite Pouilly-Fume. When people refer to Sancerre, they usually are referring to the white-wine Sancerre (Sancerre Blanc), though the region also produced a Sancerre Rouge from Pinot Noir grapes and a rose-style Sancerre which is made in a style similar to Beaujolais.
Sancerre Blanc is often compared to neighboring Pouilly-Fume which also produces 100% Sauvignon Blanc wines and, in many ways, are fairly comparable. However, broadly speaking, Sancerre Blanc tends to have a fuller body with more pronounced aromas, while Pouilly-Fume wines are more perfumed. However, both wines have naturally high acidity and the potential to exhibit minerality as well as citrus and spicy notes.
Sancerre Blanc is often compared to Sauvignon Blancs produced around the globe, but Sancerre Blanc tends to be less herbaceous and grassy than Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand and the northern regions of Italy. Compared to Sauvignon Blanc grown in Bordeaux, which are often blended with Semillon, Sancerre Blanc can be more concentrated with more racy acidity. When contrasted with Sauvignon Blancs in California, Washington, Chile and South America, Sancerre Blanc tends to exhibit more assertive mineral flavors.
The classic profile of Sancerre Blanc is bone dry and highly aromatic with aromas of citrus fruits (especially grapefruit) and the mineral-rich soil in which it is grown and intense flavors of peaches and gooseberries.
Sancerre Blanc pairs well with seafood, especially shellfish and trout.
Cheeses that go well with Sancerre Blanc include such cheeses as Camembert, Chevre, Crottin, Feta, Fontina, Fromage Blanc, Mozzarella, Pecorino Romano, Ricotta and all goat-milk cheeses.