Sauvignon Blanc, whose name etymologically refers to primitive or wild vines, is a very old variety believed to have originated in the south-east and centre of France. It can be recognised by its leaves that are quite lobed and contorted, as well as its compact clusters, with ellipsoidal berries. The grape, known for its bright acidity and refreshing citrus flavours, is grown in several wine-producing regions around the world, including Argentina. It is present in most of the wine-producing provinces of the country with Mendoza having the largest number of cultivated hectares, approximately 1,446, according to the National Institute of Viticulture.
As of 2021, Sauvignon Blanc represents a total of 1,905 cultivated hectares across the country or 0.9 per cent of the total vines in Argentina. In addition to the province of Mendoza, this grape is also grown in San Juan with 225 hectares, Neuquén with 81 hectares and Salta with 49 hectares with the remaining 100 or so hectares planted in smaller quantities across various other provinces. This grape variety is thought to have been brought to the country by French immigrants who settled in Mendoza in the mid-19th century. Mendoza's dry, sunny climate with large temperature swings from day to night, makes it ideal for the production of high-quality grapes and particularly well-suited for the cultivation of Sauvignon Blanc grapes. Additionally, the soil in the region is well-drained and rich in minerals, which helps to produce grapes that have complex flavours and rich aromas.
The Sauvignon Blanc variety is used to produce a variety of different wines in Argentina, including dry white wines and sparkling wines (espumantes). The grape thrives especially well in the cool, high-altitude regions of the country, the Uco Valley and San Juan, which allows it to develop a unique flavour profile that is different from the varietal wines produced in other parts of the world. In Argentina, Sauvignon Blanc is typically harvested in February to March, after a long, hot summer and is usually picked at night, when temperatures are cooler, to help preserve its fresh acidity and delicate aromas. A feature of Sauvignon Blanc cultivation that is unique to Argentina is the country's high-altitude vineyards, of up to 5,000 feet above sea level, which allows the grapes to ripen slowly and helps to protect them from pests and diseases, reducing the need for pesticides and other chemicals.
Argentina's Sauvignon Blanc wines are typically unoaked, allowing the grape's natural flavours and aromas to shine through when poured. Some producers, however, often use oak barrels to age their Sauvignon Blanc wines, a process which can add additional layers of complexity and depth to the wine. Generally though, the Argentine Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and refreshing, with notes of grapefruit, lime, as well as passionfruit, that are expressed in wines described as being fresh, vibrant, truly distinct and enjoyable. With the commemoration last Friday of World Sauvignon Blanc Day, celebrated annually on the first Friday in May, Thursday Food introduces five of the award-winning 100 per cent Sauvignon Blanc varietals from Doña Paula Wines:
Los Cardos Private Collection Sauvignon Blanc is made from grapes grown at the Finca Los Cerezos, located in the Cordón del Plata mountains of Tupungato in the Uco Valley at 1,000 metres (3,280 feet) above sea level. This wine is greenish-yellow in colour and has very intense aromas of passion fruit, grapefruit, lime and white peach. In the mouth, it is fresh, balanced, very lively on the palate and persistent in its finish.
Los Cardos Edición Especial Dulce Sauvignon Blanc is a sweet wine with a subtle greenish yellow colour that is produced from vineyards located 1,050 metres above sea level at Finca El Alto in Ugarteche, Luján de Cuyo. The wine seduces the nose with intense aromas of grapefruit, rue and passion fruit while on the palate; it is soft, yet persistent in the mouth with an enjoyable finish.
Doña Paula Estate Sauvignon Blanc is made from grapes grown at Finca Alluvia and Finca Los Cerezos, both located in Tupungato, Uco Valley. It has a pale yellow colour, expressing intense, typical and fresh aromas of wild mint, grapefruit as well as white currant. In the mouth, the wine is fresh, concentrated, well-balanced and persistent.
Doña Paula Single Vineyard Alluvia Sauvignon Blanc is produced from vineyards at Finca Alluvia in Gualtallary, Tupungato, located at 1,350 metres above sea level. The wine has intense aromas of lime, pink grapefruit, mint, mineral and spicy notes. On the palate it presents a medium to high body, marked freshness and a very long finish.
Doña Paula Sauvage Blanc is an espumante with a pale yellow colour that is made from grapes grown at Finca Los Cerezos in Cordón del Plata, Tupungato. The wine has very intense aromas of orange blossom as well as white peach, with citrus notes such as grapefruit, and a touch of mint. On the palate it is fresh, with marked acidity, very lively, and persistent.
Doña Paula Wines has been a producer of high-end Argentine wines since 1997 when they were established in Mendoza. The wines are made from grapes grown at their own vineyards as they seek to transmit the most faithful expression of each terroir. All five wines featured today have scored 85 points or more in addition to receiving a gold, silver or bronze medal in global wine rankings. Salud!
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