The white grape variety comes from France. Around 100 synonyms testify to the great age and worldwide distribution of the vine in almost all wine-growing countries. The most important ones, grouped alphabetically by country, are Feigtraube, Muskat-Silvaner, Würzsilvaner(Germany); Blanc Doux, Blanc Fumé, Blanc Fumet, Fumé, Genetin, Gennetin, Gentin a Romorantin, Gros Sauvignon, Libournais, Painechon, Puinechou, Punéchon, Punechou Quinechon, Sauternes, Sauvignon Blanc Musqué, Sauvignon Fumé, Sauvignon Jaune, Sauvignon Jeune, Sauvignon Musqué, Savagnou, Surin(France); Pellegrina, Pissotta, Sauvignon Bianco(Italy); Fumé Blanc(California); Sauvignon Bijeli, Sovinjon(Croatia); Genetin(Luxembourg); Sotern Marunt, Verdo Belîi(Moldova); Fig grape, Muscat Silvaner, White Sauvignon(Austria); Muškatni Silvanec(Slovenia); Sauvignon Blanco(Spain); Fehér Sauvignon, Zöld Ortlibi(Hungary). It must not be confused with the varieties Ahumat, Savagnin Blanc(Traminer), Sauvignonasse (Friulano, Tai), Silvaner or Spergola (formerly synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc in Italy), in spite of apparently suggestive synonyms or morphological similarities.
According to DNA analyses carried out in 1999, a parent-offspring relationship exists with the Savagnin Blanc = Traminer variety. A previously suspected parenthood Savagnin Blanc x Chenin Blanc was disproved. This also explains why Savagnin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc were often confused and have the same synonyms. However, Savagnin Blanc is probably not a descendant but a parent, because this variety was mentioned much earlier than the probable descendant Sauvignon Blanc. The second parent is unknown. Relationships exist through Savagnin Blanc with the varieties Aubin Blanc, Béquignol Noir, Grüner Veltliner, Petit Manseng, Petit Meslier, Räuschling, Rotgipfler, Silvaner, Teinturier du Cher and Verdelho.
Incidentally, the Chenin Blanc and Trousseau Noir varieties were created with the same parents as Sauvignon Blanc. According to DNA analyses carried out in 1997, a presumably natural cross between Cabernet Franc x Sauvignon Blanc resulted in the variety Cabernet Sauvignon. And according to the latest DNA analyses in 2009, the Sémillon variety is closely related. According to the biologist Andreas Jung, Sauvignon Blanc is identical to the Grünling variety, which was cultivated in Franconia until the middle of the 17th century. Colour mutations are Sauvignon Gris and Sauvignon Rouge, a flavour mutation called Sauvignon Musqué exists in California. Sauvignon Blanc was a cross-breeding partner of the new varieties Agorra, Arriloba, Misket Sungurlarski, Sauvignon Cita, Sauvignon Gryn, Sauvignon Kretos, Sauvignon Nepis, Sauvignon Rytos, Sauvignon Sary, Sauvin and Sirmium. An open flowered seedling is Avrora Magaracha.
According to an unverifiable legend, the French King Henry IV (1553-1610) is said to have had his grandfather rubbed his lips with a clove of garlic immediately after his birth and instilled a sip of Sauvignon Blanc. This supposedly made the king a later wine connoisseur. There was a mention under the name Sauvignon Fumé or Blanc Fumé in the year 1783 in Sancerre. However, according to a lease agreement in the monastery of St. Gallen (Switzerland), Sauvignon Blanc was apparently already being cultivated in the community of Pfaffenweiler (Markgräflerland) in 1692. This document stipulates that Red Burgundy or Muscatsylvaner (Sauvignon Blanc) must be grown when new plantations are planted.
According to one hypothesis, Sauvignon Blanc and Savagnin Blanc (Traminer) are said to have come from Great Moravia via Franconia to the Loire and Bordeaux. A second more probable variant, however, cites France and the Loire as the origin on the basis of some evidence. Regardless of the actual exact origin, the variety probably came to Germany and Austria only later. Until the Third Reich in the mid-1930s, the Muscatsylvaner was represented in Baden. Under Nazi rule, cultivation was banned in Germany on the grounds that the variety was an "enemy wine". For this reason it was of no importance in Germany for a long time after the Second World War. The botanist Johann Simon Kerner (1755-1830) immortalised it as "Riesling of Würzburg" in his vine variety picture panels around 1800.
This early to medium ripening vine is very susceptible to botrytis, powdery mildew and generally to wood diseases such as eutypiosis, but is resistant to downy mildew. It produces aromatic white wines, generally acidic, with aromas of grass, herbs, gooseberries, green fruits, grapefruit and passion fruit, for which a higher proportion of methoxypyrazines (aromatic substances) is responsible. Because of its special aromatic properties, it is called a so-called bouquet variety. The significant aromas make the variety relatively easy to identify. The wines have excellent storage potential. The variety belongs to the closest circle of the so Cépages nobles, the qualitatively noblest grape varieties in the world.
In its country of origin, France, the Sauvignon Blanc variety is mainly represented in the regions of Bordeaux, Loire, Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence, where it is permitted in countless appellations. In the Loire region, the famous white wines Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are made from this variety. The variety also gives freshness and strength to the wines as a blend partner of Sémillon, such as the famous wines of Graves and Sauternes. The total area under cultivation in France in 2010 was 27,931 hectares.
In Europe, there are areas under cultivation in Germany (516 ha), England (3 ha), Greece (256 ha), Italy (3,744 ha), Croatia (249 ha), Malta, Moldova (8,151 ha), Austria (933 ha), Portugal (171 ha), Romania (4.157 ha), Russia (951 ha), Switzerland (134 ha), Slovakia (208 ha), Slovenia (1,061 ha), Spain (4,011 ha), Czech Republic (804 ha), Turkey (146 ha), Ukraine (3,123 ha), Hungary (907 ha) and Cyprus. Overseas, these are Argentina (2,296 ha), Australia (6,467 ha), Brazil (45 ha), Chile (12,159 ha), Canada (320 ha), China (1 ha), India, Israel, Japan, Mexico (120 ha), Myanmar (22 ha), New Zealand (16,205 ha), South Africa (9,551 ha) and Uruguay (147 ha), as well as the US states of California (~6,000 ha), New York, Oregon, Texas, Virginia and Washington. In 2010, the variety occupied a total of 111,285 hectares of vineyards, with an extremely upward trend (ten years earlier it was 64,889 hectares). It thus occupied 8th place in the worldwide grape variety ranking.
Source: Wine Grapes / J. Robinson, J. Harding, J. Vouillamoz / Penguin Books Ltd. 2012
Pictures: Ursula Brühl, Doris Schneider, Julius Kühn Institute (JKI)