The Aromas of Sauvignon
Sauvignon is certainly one of the most surprising and fascinating grape varieties in the world of wine. With its unmistakable aromas and unique taste, it is a grape that every good wine taster should recognise from the very beginning.
It is a semi-aromatic variety, which mainly develops herbaceous and vegetable aromas, to which typical and diverse notes are added depending on the production area. This wide range of aromas has been studied for years by numerous researchers. In particular, the analyses carried out by the University of Bordeaux, which have revealed the elements responsible for its classic olfactory range, have been fundamental and of great value.
Among the various scents, the vegetable ones are the most evident and include tomato leaf, nettle and musk. Together with notes of green pepper, olive, fennel and capers, these produce the so-called characteristic green scents. The mineral notes of flint and gunpowder, on the other hand, are the main features of the Loire Sauvignons.
Last but not least, fruity scents of green apple, melon and citrus fruits such as grapefruit, lemon and lime give it a pleasant freshness. In the countries of the New World, on the other hand, aromas of exotic and tropical fruits such as papaya, mango, passion fruit and lychee develop.
The Grape Variety in the World
Due to its characteristics, the Sauvignon grape prefers particular climatic conditions with excellent temperature ranges, climates that tend to be rigid and soils that are not too rich. The siliceous component, such as that of the Loire area, provides the best results. The vine does not like the sun and heat, as it cannot grow vigorously and develops uncontrollable acidity. It is essential to understand when to harvest, because if the grapes are harvested too early, the result is a highly acidic and herbaceous wine that is not very pleasant. If harvesting is delayed, the unmistakable freshness that characterises this grape variety is lost.
The grape's name signifies "wildplant" in French, and it is believed to have originated in Bordeaux, where it is still blended today with Semillon and Muscadelle grapes to produce botrytized wines such as Sauternes. Its native homeland, where it has found its ideal habitat, is the Loire Valley, mainly around the villages of Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire, with the latter becoming famous for its Pouilly Fumé wine.
The French Sauvignon from Sancerre is a great white wine, with fruity notes of citrus, remarkable freshness and great drinkability. It is mainly aged in steel in order to preserve all its organoleptic qualities. The Pouilly-Fumé is a different case, as it is fermented and vinified mainly in wooden barrels, acquiring softness and creaminess as well as that extraordinary mineral note of flint that produces a Sauvignon white wine that ages very well.
In the rest of the world, New Zealand is certainly one of the most famous newcomers. Although it does not have a long winemaking tradition, the wines, mainly produced in the Marlborough area, are making their way around the world and are appreciated for that irresistible tropical richness that comes with the classic olfactory range of this variety.
Sauvignon is also present in Australia, Chile, Spain, SouthAfrica and Hungary, which are countries that are still struggling to establish themselves although they have all the credentials to potentially become major producers. Consequently, it is considered to be one of the international grapes capable of producing wines with different expressions.
The Italian Production
In Italy, the regions specialised in its production are Friuli and South Tyrol. In Friuli, the best expressions are interpreted in the Collio and Colli Orientali, which are perfect areas of hilly origin in which the vine has been able to express itself wonderfully. Here, a warmer and more structured version is produced, which is sometimes macerated, and features fruity and almond scents as a result of resting in barriques. The Sauvignon South Tyrol wines are mainly concentrated around the area of Bolzano and have a more elegant and juicy character, combining the freshness of citrus with characteristic vegetal and herbaceous notes. In recent years, additional areas have tried their hand at producing interesting versions, such as the Langhe in Piedmont and the Colli Bolognesi in Emilia.
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