Sauvignon is a grape that expresses greenness - green grass, nettles, gooseberries, asparagus, blackcurrant leaves. Oh, and cat pee...
The classic grape for summer, Sauvignon Blanc is light in body yet full in flavor. France's Loire Valley used to wear the Sauvignon crown, but today it's the New World, and New Zealand in particular, that provides many people's introduction to the grape.
Zesty, tangy and tasty, good Sauvignon Blanc is a bracing experience. New Zealand has become almost synonymous with the grape, but other parts of the world produce wines that are every bit as good
France has two traditional outposts of Sauvignon. Look to Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé from the Loire for grassy, flinty styles and to Bordeaux for fuller wines, often with an oaky influence. However, keep an eye on the Languedoc as well. Other European Sauvignon havens include Rueda in Spain and Friuli in northeast Italy.
For Sauvignon at its most intense, head for New Zealand - pungent, grassy, laden with fruit and often with an element of the feline. If you find the style OTT, try the rapidly improving versions from Chile and South Africa, or the fuller Californian wines in which oak often plays a part.
New Zealand has only been growing Sauvignon Blanc since the 1970s.
What are the oaked Californian versions of Sauvignon Blanc sometimes called?