Gray Simpson from Corks Out in Heswall writes for One Foot in the Grapes explaining what to expect from Sauvignon Blanc grapes
There are three main areas for growing Sauvignon Blanc in France – The Loire Valley (Touraine, Sancerre, Pouilly Fume), Bordeaux (used for blending with Semillon for dry and sweet white Bordeaux) and the Languedoc region in the south.
Sancerre and Pouilly Fume are the most well known and recognised – both can be described as green and grassy with subtle hints of gooseberry and citrusy lemon.
On the palate something that can best be described as “mineral-like” shows through and that is reflective of the mineral-rich soils of the area. If you are wondering what this is like, find a gravel or a shale path/driveway and grab a handful – rub it between your hands and have a good smell - that is what a “mineral” aroma/flavour is like.
The difference between Sancerre and Pouilly Fume is mainly that the Sauvignons of Pouilly Fume tend to be a little richer, with some having barrel-aging giving a subtle smoky aroma. Hence Fume.
Sauvignon Blancs from Bordeaux tend to be blended with Semillons to make dry or sweet wines, the best of which are sublime, but best left for another time. Some 100% Sauvignons do exist and they are becoming more like a cross between Loire Valley Sauvignons and NZ Sauvignons – in-your-face-but-restrained.
There is a lot of Sauvignon Blanc produced in the South of France. However, much of it is either boring and one dimensional or just plain awful. Basically this is due to it just being too hot that far south. Sauvignon likes a cooler climate, where the acidity can prosper and make the wines refreshing. In the South of France, just like much of Australia, the heat leads to overripe grapes and as the ripeness of a grape increases, the acidity decreases.
Most (decent) Sancerres and Pouilly Fumes start around £15 per bottle. If you are looking for value for money however, check out Touraine Sauvignon Blanc (£6-10), Reuilly and Menetou Salon (£10-15)