Sauvignon Blanc is most probably the crossing of Traminer x Chenin Blanc. As a varietal, it is particularly popular in the Steiermark, and was originally introduced into the region in the 19th Century by the archduke Erzherzog Johann

Origin

France, the Loire

Parentage

probably natural crossing of Traminer x Chenin Blanc

Vineyard area

1,691.67 ha; 3.8%

Origin

This variety was introduced in Steiermark in the 19th century by Archduke Johann. At the time, it was known as Muskat-Sylvaner.

Parentage

Use of the former name (Muskat-Sylvaner) is no longer permitted, due to it being misleading. The variety is not related to Muscat or Sylvaner varieties in any way, nor does it have a Muscat aroma

Vineyard area

In Austria, the area planted with this variety increased significantly between 1999 and 2020, and is continuing to grow in Niederösterreich, Burgenland and Steiermark.

A picture shows grapes from the grape variety Sauvignon Blanc.
© Austrian Wine / Oberleithner

Important ampelographic features

Leaf

circular, five lobes, undulated edge, rounded arch-shaped teeth, very hairy underside

Grape cluster

small, densely berried, cylindrical, shouldered; berries are round-to-oval, greenish-yellow in colour, with spicy, herbal, grassy flavours

Ripening

Ripening

very early
early
early to middle
middle
middle to late
late
very late

Significance & conditions

This variety produces outstanding wines with great ageing potential in Steiermark, Burgenland and Niederösterreich. It needs good vineyards, but relatively meagre soils. It is a vigorous variety and requires more leaf maintenance. The methoxypyrazines (bell pepper and green peppercorn aromas) and marcaptanes (scents of grapefruit, passion fruit and blackcurrants) are extremely photosensitive and can be reduced significantly by certain measures, such as defoliation around the grape zone. Both methoxypyrazines and marcaptanes are responsible for the characteristic aroma and flavour. The thicker the leaves are during the ripening period, the higher the methoxypyrazine content. Winegrowers can influence this content by the extent of defoliation – depending on if a green, vegetal expression of the variety is wanted or not. Sauvignon Blanc is highly prone to Peronospora and oidium.

 

Area under vine in Austria
(as a proportion of the variety’s total area)

Click on the wine origin in the list for a breakdown into more specific regions of origin.

Total area in Austria:

A picture shows a hand holding a glass of white wine.
© Austrian Wine / Blickwerk Fotografie

Characteristics of the wine

Grown worldwide, this variety has a characteristic bouquet, which can come across as intrusively unripe and grassy when the grapes have not been allowed to ripen fully. When the grapes achieve a good level of ripeness, they develop complex aromas of blackcurrants, gooseberries and tropical fruit. As they mature, the wines’ aromatics progress from subtle to very complex, giving these wines wonderful ageing potential, especially those that have been produced from malolactic fermentation in barriques. Use of very ripe grapes results in the complex aromas retreating to the background, letting a dense, spicy wine unfold.

Source varietal specifications: Höhere Bundeslehranstalt und Bundesamt für Wein- und Obstbau (Federal College and Federal Office for Viticulture, Oenology and Fruit Growing) in Klosterneuburg, “Austria’s Qualitätswein grape varieties and their clones“ („Österreichische Qualitätsweinrebsorten und deren Klone“), 2nd, reviewed edition, September 2015

Source area under vine: Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism according to IACS (as at 31 May 2022)

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