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Your Questions

Q

I recently came across mention of a sauvignon gris. Could you please explain the origins of this wine, and is it made in Australia or New Zealand?

Martin Hardy, Townsville, Qld

A colour mutation of sauvignon blanc (ie, the grape skins are more deeply pigmented giving an almost pinky grey appearance), sauvignon gris is most often used as a blending component, rather than as a single varietal wine, to give palate texture and weight. It enjoys greater popularity in France’s Loire Valley where it is known as Fié and while not officially allowed in Sancerre, there are high-profile producers, such as Henri Bourgeois, who have planted it for inclusion in some of their best cuvées. 

Despite being championed by winemakers such as Larry Cherubino, who grows it in his Channybearup Vineyard (Pemberton), and Phil Brodie at Te Mata (Hawke’s Bay), sauvignon gris remains a very minor player in both Australia and NZ vineyards. 

Q

Why do some Australian wineries call their sparkling wines ‘blanc de blanc’ as opposed to ‘blanc de blancs’? Surely this is not correct?

Robert Reynolds, Perth, WA

Champagne producers label any wine made exclusively from white grapes as blanc de blancs or “white from whites”. Although chardonnay is by far the dominant white variety, pinot gris, pinot blanc, petit meslier and arbane, are permitted although they make up less than 0.3% of plantings. 

Despite one Grande Marque claiming the term is exclusively for wines from Champagne, producers around the world use this expression for sparkling wines made by the same method – ie, only from white varieties. If only one variety is being used, perhaps blanc de blanc is indeed more accurate?

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