Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are perhaps the world’s two most popular white wines. They’re both extensively farmed and sold–you’ll undoubtedly find them in every store that sells wine and every restaurant that sells wine.
However, the fact that both wines are made from green-skinned grapes and are popular is almost where the similarities end.
Chardonnay is a full-bodied wine derived from a very neutral grape that takes on varied flavors from both the location and the matured method–if it is aged at all.
We’ll look at the geographical differences that lead to Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay’s remarkable attributes.
Terroir and winemaking practices affect the character of these wines, delivering a feeling of place and history, from the crisp and fragrant expressions of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to the deep and nuanced offers of Burgundy Chardonnay.
- Sauvignon Blanc is a wine from Southwest France that has gained favor in the Bordeaux region. It is cultivated in a variety of wine areas across the world, including Chile and Brazil in South America, the United States and Canada, New Zealand and Australia, and others.
- Like many wines, the flavors of Sauvignon Blanc are heavily influenced by the terroir (the location in which it was cultivated), most notably the climate in which it was grown. In a colder location, Sauvignon Blanc may be delightfully herbaceous, with notes of nettles, green bell peppers, and floral aromas like as elderflower. Sauvignon Blanc from cooler climates may be quite acidic and crisp, with tropical flavors like passion fruit expressing themselves..
The Chardonnay grape is native to Eastern France, although it is currently produced in every winemaking area worldwide. The Chardonnay grape is the key component in many distinct Champagnes, and most of Chardonnay’s flavor derives from the terroir–that is, the environmental variables in which it was produced.
In cooler climates, Chardonnay has a more medium body, a crisp and mineral flavor, and often overtones of green fruits such as apples, pears, and plums.
Warmer-climate Chardonnay is more fruity, with peach, melon, and citrus fruit flavors. This chardonnay has a fuller body because of the increased amounts of sugar in the grape when it was plucked.
On the other hand, Chardonnay cultivated in really warm areas offers positively tropical flavors such as mango, fig, and even banana.
Production And Winemaking Styles
- The procedure of producing Sauvignon Blanc is straightforward. In most cases, it is fermented in stainless steel tanks. To preserve the grape’s fruitiness, it is fermented at low temperatures, which maximizes its fruit potential.
- The temperature range for fermentation is 42° to 50° F (5.6° to 10° C). Within a few months of fermentation, the wine is clarified, filtered, and bottled after a few rankings.
- It is not unusual for Sauvignon Blanc to be bottled four months after fermentation and consumed within a month or two.
- Sauvignon Blanc does not often suffer from “bottle shock” like most other wines. Although many Sauvignon Blanc wines may survive for years with good cellaring, it is a variety that should be sipped young to catch the full acidity and fruit flavors.
- Sauvignon Blanc has been the flagship white varietal in France’s Bordeaux area for generations. Sémillon grapes are often cultivated in the same regions of France as Sauvignon Blanc and are typically mixed with Sauvignon Blanc.
- Fermentation: After pressing, the grapes are sent to fermentation tanks, where the grape sugar is transformed into alcohol.
- Malolactic fermentation: Malolactic fermentation is added to oaked Chardonnay. The winemaker uses malolactic fermentation (MLF) to convert the grapes’ harsher, tarter malic acid to softer, sweeter lactic acid, giving the wine a more buttery texture.
- Aging: For oaked Chard, the winemaker might add oak either during or after fermentation (by aging the wine in oak barrels). If the wine is not kept in oak barrels, it is aged in stainless steel tanks.
Regional Differences And Terroir
New Zealand’s South Island. New Zealand sauvignon blancs are cultivated in the Marlborough area of the Wairau River Valley on the South Island’s northernmost tip.
New Zealand sauvignon blancs are dry wines with intense aromas of grapefruit and lime, tropical notes of passionfruit, guava, and white peach, with a herbal kick of bell pepper and jalapeno.
Loire Valley, France. Many classic cool-climate versions of sauvignon blanc originate from central France’s Loire Valley wine area. Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, two renowned appellations noted for delicate, crisp sauvignon blanc wines, are made by Loire Valley winemakers.
Sancerre wines are light and lemony, with a controlled fruitiness and a herbaceous character reminiscent of freshly cut grass. Pouilly-Fumé wines are distinguished by their somewhat heavier body and smokey fragrance evocative of gunflint.
Chardonnay from a Cool Climate: Cooler locations may be found in ancient and new worlds. Chardonnay from cooler climates often has greater acidity, citrus flavors, and mineral character and is lighter-bodied, lower in alcohol, and graceful.
- Burgundy (France), Champagne (France), Germany, Austria, and Northern Italy are examples of the Old World.
- Ontario (Canada), Sonoma Coast (California), Anderson Valley (California), Willamette Valley (Oregon), Tasmania (Australia), Mornington Peninsula (Australia), New Zealand, Casablanca, and Leyda Valley (Chile) are all part of the New World.
Warm Climate Chardonnay: Most warm climate Chardonnay locations are in the new globe. Warm-climate Chardonnay has lower acidity and sumptuous, ripe fruit flavors ranging from yellow peach to papaya and pineapple. Wines are often fuller-bodied and higher in alcohol content.
- Much of Spain and southern Italy belong to the Old World.
- Most of California, South Australia, and South Africa are part of the New World.
Flavor Profiles And Food Pairing
Sauvignon Blanc’s predominant fruit flavors include lime, green apple, passion fruit, and white peach. The flavor of the wine will vary depending on how ripe the grapes are when it is prepared, from sharp lime to floral peach.
Sauvignon Blanc is distinguished from other white wines by its herbaceous flavors, such as bell pepper, jalapeno, gooseberry, and grass. These flavors are derived from aromatic chemicals known as pyrazines and are the key to Sauvignon Blanc’s flavor.
Food Matching Suggestions: Sauvignon Blanc’s grassy aromas complement comparable green herbs. If it contains parsley, rosemary, basil, cilantro, or mint, it will likely mix well with Sauvignon Blanc.
There is another traditional Sauvignon Blanc combo that originated in the Loire Valley. Crottin de Chavignol, a goat cheese manufactured in Sancerre, is internationally known as an exceptional stinky-creamy cheese.
A bite of Crottin with a Sauvignon Blanc splash is considered a classic match.
Chardonnay is known for its great flexibility and flavor variety. This variety can be attributable to the variety of winemaking processes and climates it is exposed to.
Chardonnay flavors vary widely, ranging from crisp, unoaked varieties from chilly climes to full-bodied and oak-aged ones from temperate climates and even effervescent Blanc de Blancs.
Food Matching Suggestions: Chardonnay can be paired with practically anything because of its variety of styles. Chardonnay pairs well with anything from shellfish, creamy sauces, and even white meats like pig and chicken.
- Chardonnay’s acidity is high in lean and effervescent types, which matches with creamier foods and seafood.
- Oysters, sushi, sautéed fish, pâté, Chicken Piccata, vegetable risotto, or moules frites are all excellent choices.
- The crispness, minerality, and delicate flavors want crisp and delicate meals.
Popularity And Consumer Preferences
Reasons For Sauvignon Blanc’s Popularity Among Consumers
Sauvignon Blanc’s sharp acidity, citrus flavors, and freshness make it an energizing and delightful white wine option. Here are more factors:-
- Adaptability: Consumers like Sauvignon Blanc’s adaptability in terms of food pairings and events. It can be enjoyed as an aperitif, with various foods, or on its own.
- Fruity Flavors: Sauvignon Blanc’s distinctive citrus and tropical fruit flavors and herbal and mineral aspects appeal to consumers who enjoy expressive and aromatic wines.
- Approachable And Accessible: Sauvignon Blanc Is a relatively low price range and widespread availability appeal to a wide spectrum of consumers.
Reasons For Chardonnay’s Popularity Among Consumers
Chardonnay is a grape varietal made in a broad range of styles. When grown in colder areas or picked early, the acidity gives it an especially bright coloring.
Chardonnay usually acquires a delightful feeling of decadence if cultivated in a warmer climate or given more time to ripen. Depending on how you open it, it may be chilly in the summer and warm in the winter.
Furthermore, it complements meals. Fish and shellfish mix well with more acidic Chardonnays from Chablis; good accompaniments include raw oysters, sautéed prawns, and light white fish.
Price Range And Availability
- Basic: $10 – $20
- Mid-range: $20 – $50
- High-end: $50 – $100+
- Sauvage blanc:
- Basic: $20 – $30
- Mid-range: $30 – $50
- High-end: $50 – $100+
Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay provide wine fans with diverse options, each with its own distinct qualities and price range. Sauvignon Blanc wines are available at various prices, ranging from low-cost entry-level bottles to high-end choices that appeal to a wide range of consumers.