Get savvy about Sauvignon Blanc this spring

Times Drinks Editor James Viner welcomes a new crop of aromatic and zesty Sauvignon Blanc…

Times Drinks Editor James Viner welcomes a new crop of aromatic and zesty Sauvignon Blanc…


All-conquering dry, simple to recognise, fresh, fabulously aromatic, zesty Sauvignon Blanc, the parent of Cabernet Sauvignon, is easily the most well-liked grape variety in the UK. According to NielsenIQ intelligence data, in 2021 we spent nearly £1bn retail (£973m) on the grape (or one bottle of wine in every seven, in value terms), some £440m more than on its nearest varietal competitor, Pinot Grigio, and £600m more than Malbec.

Bursting with grassy, green flavours and real bite, is there a white grape more closely linked to the first shoots of spring than the early ripening, cool-climate-loving Sauvignon Blanc?

Here are six sensational, zippy Sauvignon Blancs that are certain to tickle your taste buds…


  1. Sauvignon Blanc Val de Loire 2022, France (Lidl, £6.99)

Sauvignon Blanc’s French heartland is the upper Loire. Its earliest reference in the Val de Loire appeared under the ancient synonym ‘Fiers’ in 1534 in Chapter 25 of François Rabelais’ Gargantua and Pantagruel. However, some of France’s best-value Sauvignon Blanc is made
in the Loire’s less-celebrated, protected designations of origin. Lidl now has some very decent bottles at incredible prices, such as this refreshing, easy-swigging, nettle nip of a verdant bargain basement Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire. Classically dry, crisp and backed by hints of herbs and gooseberries, it has lively acidity, restrained aromas of green fruit (the chemical compounds behind these green fragrances are nettle-fresh methoxypyrazines – a word to drop at your next professional wine tasting), freshly-mown grass and it ticks all the boxes. Try it with goat cheese, an early panzanella or a Greek salad. Alc 12.5%.


  1. Morrisons The Best Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2022, New Zealand (£7, buy 6 and save 25%, until April 11)

Frank Yukich, the late founder of Montana Wines (now renamed Brancott Estate) and indeed, New Zealand’s wine industry, planted the first commercial grapevines in a sheep-farming area at the top of South Island in 1973. Some fifty years later, crowd-pleasing, vibrant Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc is a modern classic (constituting a gigantic 67% of all New Zealand wine). Made in partnership with Morrisons by Yealands, this nostril-filling own-label bottle is stonking value for the money: lemon zest, gooseberry, Kaffir lime, green capsicum, tomato leaf, boxwood and lemongrass moments dart in, out and around tangy acidity. A steal on the 25% discount offer on six bottles (down to just £5.25 a bottle)! The Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc steal of the year. Alc 12.5%.


  1. Berry Bros & Rudd Chilean Sauvignon Blanc by De Martino, Casablanca, Chile (Berry Bros & Rudd, £10.95)

Chile’s coastal Sauvignon Blanc improves with every vintage. Unoaked and medium-bodied, this superb, subtle version was produced for Berry Bros & Rudd by De Martino and has more than enough flavour, with citrus, green apple, papaya and a twist of guava mingling nicely on the lip-smacking palate. Cool climate, Pacific Ocean brilliance in a glass. Alc 13%.


  1. Vavasour Sauvignon Blanc 2022, Marlborough, New Zealand (Co-op, £11)

A single smell of this reminded me how delightful Sauvignon Blanc from the southern hemisphere can be. Pioneers Peter and Anna Vavasour planted the first grape vines on the silt loam soils in the dry, windy, Marlborough sub-appellation of the Awatere (pronounced “Awa-terry”) Valley subregion in 1986, and the estate produces superb wines with layers of depth and intensity of flavour. This new release is framed by crunchy, mineral acidity and packed with bell pepper, tomato stalk, oyster shell, crushed blackcurrant leaves and crunchy tropical fruit. An impressive, seamless performance. Alc 12.5%.


  1. Ataraxia Sauvignon Blanc 2022, Hemel-en-Aarde, Walker Bay, South Africa (Vinvm, Specialist Cellars & Bancroft Wines, £14.60-£18.49)

Despite great financial pressures, the South African wine scene is vibrant right now. Savour this delicious, well-priced luminous Cape offering from star winemaker Kevin Grant in the cool-climate ward of Hemel-en-Aarde. This is a class act with inviting green melon, green peas, smoky green tomato, zesty citrus and passionfruit. It’s a wine so alive that it pulses with vitality and energy. A real cracker and absolutely great with seafood. Alc 13%.


  1. Dog Point Vineyard Section 94 Sauvignon Blanc 2020, Marlborough, New Zealand (The Wine Society & Berry Bros & Rudd, £24-£28.95)

This is one complex wine that will appeal to devotees of white Burgundy. Dog Point Vineyard was established in 2002 by partners Ivan and Margaret Sutherland and James and Wendy Healy. Combining flavours of toast, citrus, vanilla spice, gooseberry fool, nuts, baked grapefruit, elderflower and bright acidity, this unfined, deftly oaked, full-bodied, age-worthy, single-vineyard Sauvignon Blanc is among New Zealand’s very best whites. Scintillating and well-framed, it’s especially good with scallops or salmon fillets. Kudos! Alc 14%.

Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter