When you think of the Sauvignon Blanc grape, one thing should always come to mind: acidity. Most Sauvignon Blancs possess this quality, and many also have prominent crispness, and grassy and herbaceous flavors. (Grass may sound like a weird descriptor, but trust me, when a Sauvignon Blanc possess this quality, it is unmistakable. Another weird SB descriptor? CAT PEE. But it is unmistakable when it is present in a glass). Hopefully I haven’t turned you off to this grape by using these odd descriptors!
Sauvignon Blanc is another dominant grape in France. It is the most prominent white grape in France’s Bordeaux region. Often, the French mix it with the Semillon grape—a dry, white grape that is grown in the same region—and age it in oak barrels. Those are the characteristics of a Bordeaux style white wine.
Robert Mondavi began aging his Sauvignon Blancs in oak, which can take away from the crispness. He called this “new” wine Fume Blanc, but it is actually just the Sauvignon Blanc grape that has been fermented in a different style. The alternative is fermenting the wine in steel, which can give the wine that “mineral” quality that steel tanks often lend to a wine. However it is made, whether it’s crisp and acidic or slightly oaked, Sauvignon Blanc is the second best selling grape in California, second only to Chardonnay.