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The Astor Wines & Spirits Glossary

Sauvignon Blanc

Few varietals have spawned as bizarre a list of descriptors as Sauvignon Blanc. Believe it or not, “cat pee” is in fact a complimentary tasting note, associated with some of the best bottlings. (It’s a somewhat odd way of pointing out herbaceousness in the wine.) Cat pee aside, Sauvignon Blanc (sometimes called "Fumé Blanc" in California) is a bit of a chameleon in terms of style, and quite utterly at the whim of the winemaker. Some are fermented in barrel, others in stainless steel. Some Sauvignon Blancs reveal notes of citrus and grapefruit, some tend towards tropical fruits, and still others display an almost vegetal quality. Cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc can yield crisp, light wines; warmer climates produce big, rich, and (when combined with extended oak ageing) robust examples, rivaling Chardonnay’s weight and texture. Given this incredible versatility, it’s no wonder Sauvignon Blanc is widely considered one of the “food-friendliest” wines on the market. With its bright flavors, Sauvignon Blanc is often a great match for spicy dishes; when it shows that vibrant acidity, it is an equally fine pairing for rich, creamy foods that would be weighted down by a heavier Chardonnay.