Sauvignon Blanc probably originated in Bordeaux, but it is in the limestone soil of theCentre-Loire, that it shows its best, most characteristic qualities. Although widely planted the world over, and highly successful in such widely different climates as California, New Zealand and Chile, all Sauvignon Blanc aspires to standards set in the Centre-Loire. The climate here is too cold for later-ripening grapes (such as the Chenin Blanc) but Sauvignon Blanc buds late and ripens early, making it ideal for a region prone to severe frosts and harsh winds. Sauvignon Blanc is rarely blended with other grapes in the Loire Valley and it is responsible for the distinctive characters of Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé, Reuilly, Menetou-Salon, Quincyand Touraine Blanc.
Sauvignon Blanc is almost always dry, yet there is diversity within the refreshing, fruity and almost tart style that predominates these wines, and there are few more vivid demonstrations of the ways in which different soils can determine the character of wines made from the same grape, than to taste the great wines of the Centre-Loire side by side.
Much Sauvignon Blanc is made for early drinking. With their distinctive aroma, which reminds some people of gooseberries and other of grapefruit and their fresh, lively acidity, these are ideal wines to drink with the famous goat cheeses of the Loire Valley (the famousCrottin de Chavignol comes from the same village as some of the best Sancerre), with cold shrimp or lobster, or with a summer picnic. Nonetheless, the high acidity of Sauvignon Blanc means that the wines can be kept, and a few producers have experimented with aging exceptionally ripe vintages in oak. These wines are richer and take longer to show their best qualities. With time, however, they develop a remarkably fragrant complexity that makes them seem almost sweet, better paired with aged cheeses, and even with foie gras, rather than with shellfish.