The first Friday in May is International Sauvignon Blanc day, so here’s a little background to help you prepare for the festivities.
Sauvignon Blanc is a white grape that originated in France, where it is still widely planted in the Loire Valley and Bordeaux . However, it has also become popular in many New World wine regions, such as Chile, South Africa, and California, but especially New Zealand, where it has become their most widely planted grape.
Sauvignon Blanc is a dry, white wine, with high acidity. It is often described as crisp and refreshing, and it is one of my favorite wines for summer. I find Sauvignon Blanc easy to drink on its own, but with its herbal and mineral qualities, it also makes an excellent pairing for fresh vegetables, salads, fish/seafood, sushi, and raw oysters.
Common fruit flavors for Sauvignon Blanc are lime (and other citrus), honeydew melon, green apple, and peach. Additionally, Sauvignon Blanc is known for strong non-fruit flavors such as fresh grass, bell pepper, and chalky minerals.
After WWII, Chilean wine production declined dramatically, and the Chilean exports were reduced to a few large producers.
However in the 1980s, there were changes in the government’s economic policies and a renewed interest from international wine makers, which started a resurgence of the wine industry in Chile. One of the key international players was Spain’s Miguel Torres, who purchased a vineyard in Chile and introduced modern wine making technologies to the Chilean wine makers. Torres was a key inspiration of Alfonso Chadwick Errázuriz of Vina Errázuriz, who spent a great deal of time in Europe to gain recognition for Chilean wine. He organized the “Berlin Tasting” in 2004, which pitted prestigious French and Italian wines against 6 Chilean wines. To the surprise of all, two of Errázuriz’s wine came in first and second place, beating out the famed Chateau Lafite. Even with renewed international appreciation, the Chilean wine industry continued to be dominated by larger wineries such as Concha y Toro. However, recently there is a push to provide more opportunities for smaller, artisanal producers, with organizations such as MOVI and VIGNO.
In the coming weeks, I will be traveling to Chile, and I hope to share with you much more insight and inspiration for drinking Chilean wines. Salud!
Photo Credit: Food & Beverage Magazine
Chile has a long history of wine production, dating back to the 16th century, when the Spanish colonists brought vitis vinifer. Later various French varieties were imported, and in the 20th century, Chile established itself as an important player in the global wine market. Vineyards can be found throughout the country, growing both red and white grapes. The most common varietals are:
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Sauvignon Blanc
- Pinot Noir
Although Cabernet Sauvignon is the most widely planted grape, Carménère has become the signature grape of Chile. Originally a French variety, it was believed to have been lost during the phylloxera epidemic in Europe, but was rediscovered in Chile in the 1990s. You can read more about Carménère in last year’s April Grape of the Month post.
For more information about Chilean Wine…