Why Sauvignon Blanc has intriguing flavours

Sauvignon Blanc.

© Shutterstock


Sauvignon Blanc.

© Shutterstock

http://www.falstaff.com/en/nd/why-sauvignon-blanc-has-intriguing-flavours/ Why Sauvignon Blanc has intriguing flavours Does Sauvignon Blanc really taste of passion fruit, boxwood or asparagus and what is responsible for the huge range of flavours? http://www.falstaff.com/fileadmin/_processed_/9/d/csm_sav-blanc_5574fe0896.jpg

Vinifying Sauvignon Blanc at controlled, cool temperatures in stainless steel – rather than in wooden or cement vats as it was traditionally done in the variety’s homeland of France – unleashed a range of aromas the world went mad for. Flavour chemistry has clearly identified the compounds responsible for the aromas that make this grape so distinctive. The good news: if you smell boxwood or jalapeño in your Sauvignon Blanc, you are not dreaming. The main aroma compounds can be divided into two camps: methoxy-pyrazines and thiols.

Methoxy pyrazines:

  • Green bell pepper or jalapeño: 2-methoxy-3-isobutylpyrazine (MIBP) 
  • Green/tinned asparagus, pea shoots: 2-methoxy-3-isopropylpyrazine (MIPP)


  • Boxwood and spicy greenery: 4-mercapto-4-methylpentan-2-one (4MMP)
  • Citrus zest like lime and grapefruit: 3-mercaptohexan-1-ol (3MH)
  • Passion fruit: 3-mercaptohexyl acetate (3MHA)

The whole spectrum

How can there be such a wide spectrum of flavours – from green to tropical? This conundrum can be explained by harvest dates. It is possible to pick Sauvignon Blanc at different stages of ripeness: early on when flavours and their precursors are in the herbaceous spectrum, when it is a little riper to show apple and stone fruit and fully ripe when aromas are more opulent and tropical. Wines from different harvest dates can be blended to give a perfect cocktail of crunchy, fragrant greenery and juicy fruit.