Yep you read that right - there is an actual day to celebrate all things Sauv Blanc, and here in New Zealand we should all be proudly pouring ourselves a glass. This year International Sauvignon Blanc Day falls tomorrow - Friday 4th May - and is a good reason to tuck into the varietal that truly put Kiwi wines on the map. In fact, we’ve done so well at growing Sauv Blanc that the wines from this part of the world have set the international standard for what a Sauvignon Blanc should taste like. Too right.
We really did set the Sauv Blanc standard
Sauvignon Blanc is a green-skinned grape, originally from Bordeaux in France. The name itself derives from French meaning ‘wild white’ (sauvage = wild, blanc = white).
Also called ‘new world’ Sauvignon Blanc when it comes from New Zealand, for those who have heard the term, we’ve now set the international standard of what a good Sauv Blanc should taste like. New Zealand vineyards have been growing the grape for a relatively short time: only since the 1970s. Although wine has been made in New Zealand since the 19th century, the first notable Sauvignon Blanc was made by what is now known as Brancott Estate. In 1973, they looked to expand beyond Hawke’s Bay, and so planted over a thousand hectares of vines in a brand new region - the Marlborough, now known the world over for its famed Sauvignon Blancs. The first commercial production of the wine wasn’t even until 1979! Marlborough has since mapped its place internationally as the ‘it’ location for New World Sauvignon Blanc, but here in NZ we have 11 regions and more than 20,000 hectares of Sauv Blanc vines planted - that’s equal to 22,000 rugby pitches! It’s by a huge margin our country’s most popular, and therefore widely produced, grape.
How is NZ Sauvignon Blanc different?
Our local drop has a truly distinct style, different from the Sauvignon Blanc produced in Old World countries like France. Its flavours are described in terms of fruits, as they tend to be lush, flavourful, and often what some critics describe as ‘explosive’ - meaning it packs a punch and is not as light as some other varietals! We’re going to quote NZ Wine here, as they say it best:
France has the pedigree, and California the size, New Zealand has the personality that makes this special grape variety shine. Unique, exuberant and intense, this explosive varietal awoke the world to New Zealand wine.
Tasting notes-wise, you can expect to see a huge list of delicious flavours on the label: red capsicum (sometimes called ‘bell pepper’), kiwifruit (of course! But also called ‘gooseberry’), characters, lush tropical fruit such as pineapple, fresh cut grass, citrus such as grapefruit or lime, and even tomato stalks (no, really!).
Punching above our weight then? Absolutely
This Friday the world will again be shown how us Kiwis punch well above our weight when it comes to this particular vino. We make less than 1% of the entire world’s wine production but export a whole lot of that - over 166 million bottles of Sauvignon Blanc each year alone, in fact! Sauv Blanc is the jewel in our wine crown, and represents about 85% of our wine exports. It’s the new flavours of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc have dazzled wine critics throughout the world, setting the international benchmark for the style.
So why is there an International Sauvignon Blanc Day?
Because it’s a wine worth celebrating! As we produce 17% of the world’s supply of this particular wine (a lot considering there are limits to how much we can grow down here!) there is no better reason to celebrate what we’re the best in the world at doing: producing one of the tastiest, most loved white wines.
Just in case you aren’t a Champagne pro, we’ve compiled a handy list of hints to up your game – with plenty of time before the festive season kicks off this year to get you into the groove!
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