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.
- 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.
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