Trademark qualities: Finesse and freshness. The scent can remind you of grass, or nettles.
Try it with: Baked cod or goat’s cheese
In general it goes with: white (sea) fish and classically with goat’s cheese, beetroot and asparagus (not necessarily all at once), but it’s also a good aperitif.
Wines of this type
The classic sauvignons come from the Loire valley in France – Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumée, etc. All are dry, the best elegant and subtle. Mass market versions are labelled from ‘Jardin de France’ and some now come from the Pays d’Oc.
They go so well with fish and salads, make such good aperitifs and are such good value that it is strange that they are not more popular.
Some white Bordeaux are pure Sauvignon Blanc, but many are blended with Semillon. These Bordeaux Sauvignons tend to be rather good yet are under-rated in the UK. Regionally Bordeaux Blanc, sub-regions Pessac-Léognan (probably the best for Bordeaux whites), Entre Deux Mèrs, Graves, then lots of individual chateaux.
New Zealand has produced outstanding Sauvignons for several years in a style of peculiar intensity, but never cheap. Chile is now also producing very good Sauvignons and very good value. South Africa is also becoming interesting.
Keeping: Most Sauvignons, even classy Pouilly-Fumées and Sancerres, are made to be drunk young – within 3 or 4 years. The best Bordeaux however shouldn’t be drunk for a few years and will last for over a decade.
Pricing: Sauvignon Blanc is good value. Decent Loire Sauvignon starts at about £5.75 with lots under £10.00, and even very good Sancerre is ‘only’ about £15.00. Bordeaux also start around £6.00 with lots of interesting ones at under £10.00, however the better chateaux advance towards £15 and the best Pessac-Léognans above £25.
- Everyday/Party £6.00
- Informal Dinner £8 – 10
- Impress the Boss Dinner £12 – 16 the best of the Loire and New Zealand
- Investors Only £20 and these will be Bordeaux
Overall: Good value, quite versatile; can be too dry for some.