While New Zealand may have brought Sauvignon Blanc to the masses, this French grape’s Old World roots should not be forgotten.
The wines of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé in the Loire Valley are some of the most iconic representations of the grape. These white wines are austere and earthy, with some displaying a taut mineral note that can be attributed to the area’s flint and limestone soils.
Bordeaux is also well-known for Sauvignon Blanc, where it is one of the main grapes used in Bordeaux Blanc, Entre-deux-Mers and Graves bottlings. Herbacious yet fruity examples can be found in parts of Northeast Italy, while Germany and Austria also dabble in the variety.
Here are 12 bottles to help you explore the range of Old World Sauvignon Blancs.
Russiz Superiore 2016 Riserva Sauvignon (Collio); $43, 95 points. A benchmark for Italian whites, this wine opens with inviting aromas of honeydew melon, exotic fruit, aromatic herb and a whiff of baking spice. On the delicious, polished palate, fresh acidity accompanies ripe apricot, white peach, gooseberry, cantaloupe and pastry cream before a lingering lemon-drop finale. Dalla Terra Winery Direct. Editors’ Choice. –Kerin O’Keefe
Wohlmuth 2017 Ried Hochsteinriegl Sauvignon Blanc (Südsteiermark); $45, 95 points. Subtle elderflower, fern and grass on the nose attain an incredibly rounded richness on the palate. The green tartness is plumped out with Mirabelle plum ripeness and buffered by a rich, creamy texture while a sparky streak of lemon zest keeps everything focused. Texture, fruit and freshness combine in a most winning fashion. Drink 2020–2030. VOS Selections. Cellar Selection. –Anne Krebiehl, MW
Domaine Delaporte 2017 Les Monts Damnés (Sancerre); $52, 94 points. A special cuvée from a special vineyard, this wine comes from a steep slope in the village of Chavignol. The intensity of the slope has produced a wine that revels in its minerality and tight texture as well as pepper, apple and citrus flavors. Drink through 2030. Vineyard Brands. Cellar Selection. –Roger Voss
Domaine Laporte 2018 Le Rochoy (Sancerre); $25, 93 points. The flinty soil of this vineyard gives a wine that has both richness and a steely line of acidity and tension. This wine is full of green stone fruits laced with ripe citrus that shows strongly against the wine’s youthful texture. Drink from 2020. Martine’s Wines. Editors’ Choice. –R.V.
Jermann 2018 Sauvignon Blanc (Venezia Giulia); $35, 93 points. Racy and fragrant, this vibrant white is loaded with finesse and tension, opening with aromas of citrus, wild herb and a whiff of honeysuckle. On the elegant, tangy palate, crisp acidity accompanies juicy pineapple, white grapefruit and succulent white peach alongside an energizing saline note. LUX Wines. –K.O.
Château la Garde 2017 Pessac-Léognan; $28, 91 points. Crisply textured, this wine has both bright fruits and a tight, mineral character that gives an edge of dryness and structure that will allow it to age further. Drink from 2022. Thiénot USA. –R.V.
Régis Minet 2018 Vieilles Vignes (Pouilly-Fumé); $28, 91 points. The old vines and fermentation with natural yeasts have give this wine intensity and great flavor. Tangy, ripe green and citrus fruits are lined with acidity and a touch of minerality. Drink the wine now. Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant. Editors’ Choice. –R.V.
Tement 2018 Gutswein Sauvignon Blanc (Südsteiermark); $20, 91 points. The nose is rather subtle and gives just a little grass with a flinty, smoky smudge of reduction. The palate is light and carries hints of lime, cut grass and more of that smoke before passion fruit adds a little roundness. A slender, refreshing and full-flavored wine. Weygandt-Metzler. –A.K.
Weingut Drautz-Able 2017 Hades Sauvignon Blanc Trocken (Württemberg); $47, 91 points. Veins of smoke, crushed stone and green pepper extend into pristine lemon and white peach in this unique, revitalizing Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a bold, full-bodied sip, with an intensely smoky, mineral backdrop. This is an eccentric but enticing wine to sip and ponder. Winesellers, Ltd. –Anna Lee C. Iijima
Château de Bonhoste 2018 Bordeaux Blanc; $15, 90 points. Tangy lemon zest comes through strongly in this wine. Its acidity is reinforced by a mineral texture that adds complexity. This fifth-generation Fournier family wine has a full-bodied feel and is still young. Let it calm down a little and drink from late 2019. T. Edward Wines Ltd. Best Buy. –R.V.
Henri Bourgeois 2018 En Travertin (Pouilly-Fumé); $25, 90 points. This soft wine makes up in ripe white fruitiness what it lacks in texture. It is an open wine, full of juicy flavors and finishing with refreshing acidity. Drink now. Monsieur Touton Selection Ltd. Editors’ Choice. –R.V.
Tramin 2019 Sauvignon (Alto Adige); $17, 90 points. This has classic varietal aromas of crushed tomato vine, citrus, exotic fruit and elderflower. On the crisp, savory palate, tangy acidity underscores juicy grapefruit, peach and pineapple before a mouthwatering saline finish. LLS–Winebow. Editors’ Choice. –K.O.