Fast facts about New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc: a quick introduction

Almost certainly named after the French word for ‘wild’ (‘sauvage’), Sauvignon Blanc originated in Bordeaux and initially gained recognition as an integral part of the world-famous white Bordeaux wines. Sav then travelled from its home en France to New Zealand — where in 1969, Kiwi winemaker Ross Spence (of Matua) planted the first vines in Waimauku, West Auckland. Marlborough cottoned on in 1973, and New Zealand quickly rose to worldwide wine glory with its punchy, zesty, never-before-seen Sauvignon Blanc style.

Like any wine, Sauvignon Blanc takes on different aromas, flavours, and qualities depending on the climate of its growing area, the desires of a given winemaker, and the particular techniques that winemaker uses from harvest through to bottling. As a general rule, Sauvignon Blanc is fermented and aged in stainless steel, giving it that crisp, clean, refreshing, summery vibe. But oaked versions do exist and offer richer, creamier alternatives that resemble Chardonnay.

Fast facts:

  • Sauvignon Blanc was commercially produced on our shores for the first time in the 1970s.
  • It is the country's most widely planted variety, and has established itself as New Zealand's flagship wine the world over.
  • Nationally, over 25,000 hectares of vineyard land are devoted to growing the grape.
  • Three-quarters of all Sauvignon Blanc is planted in Marlborough (22k+ ha), followed by Hawke's Bay (1k+ ha) and Nelson (0.6k ha).
  • Sauvignon blanc comprises 72% of New Zealand’s overall wine production — and it’s 86% of what we export to the rest of the world. Total production - 302,000 tonnes.
  • It's one of the parent grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon. The other? Cabernet Franc.
  • Sauvignon blanc is an excellent food-pairing wine. Depending on which style you’re pouring, you can roll with everything from Thai food and grilled chicken to salmon and pasta
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