Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Joanna Simon in The Sunday Times, September 21, 2008: Sauvignon Gris - the New Blanc

Sauvignon gris sounds like a grape variety dreamed up in a marketing department to cash in on the fashions, especially among women, for both sauvignon blanc and pinot grigio (aka pinot gris). But no creativity has been necessary. The only thing new about sauvignon gris is the interest producers are taking in it, including making it as a wine in its own right (instead of merely blending it), and putting the name on labels. Previously it wasn’t thought worthy of a mention.

Not that we should exaggerate. Only a handful of wines labelled sauvignon gris (meaning they contain at least 85% of the variety) have reached UK shelves so far, but the trend has been set, so we shall see more – especially from Chile, but also from the Loire, Bordeaux and areas where growers are planting it for the first time.

Technically, it’s a pink-skinned variant of sauvignon blanc and the wines have an obvious family resemblance, but there are differences. Sauvignon gris is less aromatic, which means less pungent ‘green’ flavours (grass, gooseberries et al), and it tends to be fuller-bodied. There are two from Chile to try below.

2007 Secano Estate Sauvignon Gris, £6.99
Full and dry with spice, citrus and green fruit flavours (Marks & Spencer).

2007 Vina Leyda Sauvignon Gris, £9.49
Full-bodied, smoky and spicy with tangy green fruit (Oddbins).

2007 Calvet Sauvignon Blanc Reserve, £4.99
Light, grassy, grapefruity Bordeaux with 15% sauvignon gris, although the label doesn’t say so (Waitrose).