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Sauvignon Blanc

With a total of about 12 000 ha in 1988, Sauvignon Blanc ranked fifth among the white wine grape varieties of France. The area had increased considerably since 1958, when Sauvignon Blanc ranked eighteenth. The main plantings are near Bordeaux, where it is used as a minor but important partner of Semillon. There would be a few thousand hectares of Sauvignon Blanc in northern Italy and it has also spread to eastern European countries, California, Chile, Australia. Sauvignon Blanc is a vigorous and rather upright variety. It has rough, undulating 3- to 5-lobed leaves which differ from those of Semillon in having more rounded teeth, a little more hair on the lower surface, a somewhat brighter green colour and a more frilly appearance. Sauvignon Blanc has small, cylindrical, compact bunches which are sometimes winged, and small, short oval, greenish-yellow berries. In a cooler climate, such as that of the Loire Valley, Sauvignon Blanc gives wines with a very strong varietal character. This is also found in wines from the coolest Australian areas and its unfamiliarity may hinder immediate acceptance of the variety. The varietal character is less strongly developed in warmer areas, where Sauvignon Blanc gives pleasant, fresh, acid wines. It is considered a very desirable component in the white wines of Bordeaux, and similar mixtures of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc probably deserve more extensive trialing in Australia.