When it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, odds are that you won’t have any trouble finding a host of bottles in most wine stores and restaurants. Styles like a zippy Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc or a mineral-laced Sancerre are unwaveringly popular due to their perceived reliability and recognition among consumers, but surprisingly have started to run afoul of sommeliers looking to boost lesser-known producers.
To find some of the unsung heroes of Sauvignon Blanc, we turned to the experts. According to the 20 sommeliers we polled below, the Loire Valley continues to offer wonderfully underrated Sauvignon Blanc, if you know where to look, while other experts highlight producers and winemaking regions from northern Italy and South Africa to California and Austria. Keep reading to find your next intriguing bottle of underrated Sauvignon Blanc.
The Most Underrated Sauvignon Blanc, According to Somms:
- Sauvignon Blanc from Friuli-Venezia Giulia
- Borgo del Tiglio Sauvignon, Collio, Italy
- Venica & Venica Ronco del Cerò Sauvignon, Collio, Italy
- Pape Clément Blanc, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux, France 2017
- Aslina by Ntsiki Biyela Sauvignon Blanc, Stellenbosch, South Africa
- Crocker & Starr Sauvignon Blanc 2022
- Alto Adige producers Terlano and Andriano
- Terlan Winkl Sauvignon Blanc
- Sauvignon Blanc from Pouilly-Fumé and Menetou-Salon
- Sauvignon Blanc from Südsteiermark or South Styria, Austria
- Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia 2020
- Montes Classic Series Sauvignon Blanc 2021
- Producers Vacheron, Cotat, Dagueneau, and Vatan
- Producers Alexandre Bain and Nicolas Barbou
- AmByth & Sons 2021 Sauvignon Blanc Coquelicot Vineyard, Santa Ynez, Calif.
- Dry and sweet white Bordeaux
- Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc
- Sauvignon Blanc from Touraine
- Menetou producer Philippe Gilbert
“For Sauvignon Blanc, the sleeper region of the decade award goes to Friuli-Venezia Giulia. The Sauvignons from Friuli offer a seductive texture supported by notes of sea salt, river stones, freshly picked stone fruit, and almond skin. The Collio Sauvignon bottling from Borgo del Tiglio is a wonderful example of what a deeply textured, age-worthy wine inspires to be. I place this in my ‘thinker not a drinker’ category. The enjoyment comes from experiencing the metamorphosis over time rather than the immediate gratification of popping a bottle.” —Benjamin Coutts, beverage director, Soseki, Winter Park, Fla.
“I think the secret is out among wine professionals, but for the casual white wine drinker, the Sauvignon Blanc coming out of Friuli in northeastern Italy is often overlooked. Some producers can be more expensive than your everyday New Zealand wine, and some bottles even rival (or exceed) prices of others from Sancerre. But as these wines feature incredible textural depth, an inarguable harmony of flavor, and an innate sense of place, Sauvignon Blanc from Friuli should absolutely be part of the conversation. It’s a great entryway to the other great white wines of the region, which are some of the best in all of Italy!” —Jerome Noel, general manager, taste56, Brooklyn
“The most underrated Sauvignon is Venica & Venica Ronco del Cerò Sauvignon, Collio, Italy. This is a family-run estate since the 1930s on the border between Friuli-Venezi Giulia and Slovenia, and they’re crafting some of Italy’s best white wines. It has a powerful but linear expression, super aromatic and refreshing, and a wine that can age for 10 years. If you see older vintages of this on a wine list, it’s not a typo! I think today, most Sauvignon Blanc drinkers are divided between the New World New Zealand stuff and increasingly difficult Sancerre, and don’t often associate Italy with this grape. However, Friuli could make a case for producing some of the world’s best and most unique expressions.” —Charlie Gaeta, wine director, Dedalus, Burlington, Vt.
“Sauvignon Blanc can vary wildly. Some Sauvy B can be almost astringently dry while others with a heavy tropical note, and many of these styles can be polarizing for guests, although classic in their own right. Some of my favorite producers include Venica & Venica who make such a stellar Sauvignon Blanc with notes of gooseberries, a bit of cat pee — sounds gross, but in wine it’s OK — and fresh-cut grass. My second favorite is a Sauvignon Blanc from Stellenbosch from Aslina Wines by the producer Ntsiki Biyela, who makes a vivacious style that has lingering notes of lemon zest and crisp minerality.” —Gabriel Maldonado, general manager and beverage director, The Wesley, NYC
“Pape Clément Blanc, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux, France 2017. Sauvignon Blanc is a style commonly viewed as hailing from New Zealand or Loire Valley, yet some of the most iconic styles are from the depths of Bordeaux. Bordeaux expressions of Sauvignon Blanc are complex and often consist of a blend with Sémillon. Pape Clément is one of the oldest estates in Bordeaux with history from the 13th century and winemaking techniques that tighten the relationship between the Old World Sauvignon Blanc and the tropical tones we’ve grown to love in regions like New Zealand. Fresh, crisp, complex Sauvignon Blancs also grow in a region with wet winters and earthy First Growths.” —Kyle South, lead sommelier, Addison, San Diego
“For me, one of the most underrated Sauvignon Blancs is from California with a great Loire Valley influence: Crocker & Starr. With Pam Starr as a co-founder and winemaker, this is a beautiful Sauvignon Blanc from St. Helena. The winery practices organic farming and small-production wines with a soil-driven character. Their Sauvignon Blanc Crocker & Starr 2022 entices the nose with layered aromatic notes of mandarin, lychee, and stone fruit and [offers] lemon curd, white peach, fresh melon, and minerality across the palate. Vibrant acid and creamy texture created from oak and concrete egg influence.” —Juan Fernandez, head sommelier, The Ballantyne, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Charlotte, Charlotte, N.C.
“I find that when people ask for Sauvignon Blanc or Sancerre, they’re very often asking for one of two particular styles, and really anything outside of that is underrated. I’m particularly fond of those being produced in northern Italy; the wines from Terlano and Andriano in a small white wine-producing enclave of Alto Adige are intensely aromatic and always fun. If we want to add traditional blends here, I can’t understate how criminally underrated Bordeaux Blanc can be outside of the top end and Sauternes. You can find a plethora of styles from light, fruity, and crisp all the way up to rich, honeyed, and unctuous with plenty of price points.” —John Richard, beverage director, Ci Siamo, NYC
“The Trentino-Alto-Adige region in Italy seduces me increasingly with the precision, singularity, and power of its Sauvignon Blancs. This environment with a semi-mountain, semi-maritime climate allows a unique expression of its wines. The Sauvignon Blancs gain more and more maturity over the years, and the salty sensations persist thanks to the freshness of the high-altitude terroirs. A new generation of winegrowers is letting themselves be lulled by this symphony orchestra led by its volcanic power. I am a fan of the cute Winkl from Azienda Terlan ($36), which goes perfectly with a cheese platter from the Italian Piedmont region.” —Adrien Cascio, sommelier, Cenadou Bistrot, North Salem, N.Y.
“One of my favorite wine appellations is that of the iconic region of Sancerre, known principally for producing some of the highest-quality Sauvignon Blanc in the world. Sancerre became synonymous with affordability and good value. Recently, however, due to dwindling harvest and increasing demand, the wine’s price point has skyrocketed. Great regions nearby with similar climate and similarly fantastic wines include that of Pouilly-Fumé and Menetou-Salon. Both produce food-friendly wines with sharp acidity and pleasing aromas of stone fruit. Wines from these neighboring regions remain affordable but lack the same brand recognition, for the most part, as Sancerre. Pouilly-Fumé has been quite popular with diners at Kochi as its refreshing acidity keeps the palate centered throughout our varied and intensely flavorful menu.” —Nicholas Lopez, head sommelier, Kochi, NYC
“While Sancerre continues to enjoy increasing popularity, the accompanying surge in prices has not gone unnoticed. Don’t get me wrong — I love the minerality, bracing acidity, and the complex notes of flinty and even smoky nuance demonstrated in great Sancerre. However, the steep annual price hikes have led me to explore neighboring appellations more thoroughly. Chief among my favorite appellations for Sauvignon Blanc is Pouilly-Fumé. Nestled in soils composed of Kimmeridgian marls and calcareous rock, these wines boast all the same exceptional acidity and chalky minerality in their Sancerre counterparts. Pouilly-Fumé stands as a timeless classic, embodying the quintessential essence of what it means to be great Sauvignon Blanc.” —Kathleen Standridge, wine director, The Shipwright’s Daughter, Mystic, Conn.
“Sauvignon Blanc from Südsteiermark or South Styria in Austria is a recent favorite of mine for many reasons. The region itself is full of gorgeous steep slopes and a variety of different soil types, creating tension, freshness, and minerality in the wines. It is also the perfect wine to surprise people with as it still flies under the radar. While the general public is familiar with Grüner Veltliner and Riesling from Austria, many are unaware of the world-class Sauvignon Blanc. Weingut Tement’s Ried Zieregg Sauvignon Blanc is on par with some of the greatest Sancerre and white Bordeaux in the world. To me, Styrian Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect way to introduce something new to a Sauvignon Blanc-loving guest that still feels familiar, and can quite literally expand their world of wine.” —Suzanne DeStio, wine & beverage director, One White Street, NYC
“Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia 2020. Italy is known for many things, but Sauvignon Blanc is never at the top of that list. However, this is one of my favorite examples of Sauvignon Blanc in the world! Lively, racy, aromatic, and complex. Total showstopper.” —Jenna Isaacs, sommelier, Rustic Canyon, Santa Monica, Calif.
“Montes Classic Series Sauvignon Blanc 2021. An affordable Chilean Sauvignon Blanc with a harmonious balance of medium body and acidity offering a satisfying, moderately long finish. It’s often overlooked, possibly due to its excellent value, as wine enthusiasts tend to focus on more expensive options.” —Oneil Thomas, wine steward, Hideaway at Royalton Saint Lucia, An Autograph Collection All-Inclusive Resort, Saint Lucia
“The most overrated Sauvignon Blanc is by far Sancerre. Winemakers in Sancerre played their cards right and the U.S. market is enormous — Americans love their Sancerre. As a sommelier trying to open guests to new wines, it can be hard when the sacrosanct Sancerre is on the list. That’s why the most underrated Sauvignon is also, in my opinion, Sancerre. Within the appellation, certain producers like Vacheron, Cotat, Dagueneau, or Vatan are showing that Sancerre can also be a land of precisely crafted wines. That’s what we’re trying to do at Eli’s Table — to highlight the needle in the haystack, the producers that go against the grain and produce unique wines in a sea of average wines.” —Thibault Dubreuil, sommelier, Eli’s Table, NYC
“Sauvignon Blanc is pretty overrated in general thanks to Sancerre’s stranglehold on the mass public’s perception of the grape, but I recommend looking at Sauvignon Blancs from Alexandre Bain and Nicolas Barbou, two producers whose wines are actually emblematic of the grape’s potential.” —Cody Pruitt, managing partner & beverage director, Libertine, NYC
“There are many Sauvignon Blancs that I do love, though I tend to prefer more modern, angular approaches to classic varietals. One that I’m loving right now is the 2021 AmByth & Sons Sauvignon Blanc from Coquelicot Vineyard in Santa Ynez, Calif. Ambyth is a biodynamic producer of dry farming in Paso Robles, and they source from organic vineyards as far south as Santa Barbara. This Sauvignon Blanc is aged for eight months on its skins in amphorae (clay pots). The result is a headier, deeper wine than many may be used to with this varietal. The tropical undertones are still there with notes of lychee and grapefruit, but they lead to deep, more stone-fruit vibes of nectarine and apricot. What the skin contact really provides here, besides color, are those super-pleasant tannins. Again, not typical for a tropical climate Sauvignon Blanc, but the structure makes it a really fun food wine, and gives it a depth and texture that is a really welcome counterpoint to the bright fruity notes of Sauvignon Blanc.” —TJ Provenzano, beverage director and co-owner, Bar Miller, NYC
“White Bordeaux hands down, and both dry and sweet. The most famous sweet wine, Château d’Yquem, may be made with a bit of Sauvignon Blanc. I think the wines from Barsac, Cérons, and Cadillac are exceptional values and made so beautifully. But the dry white wines of Bordeaux, especially with a dash of Sémillon, are so aromatic, textural, and complex but incredibly versatile when it comes to pairing with food.” —Demetria Lewis, sommelier, Birdie G’s, Santa Monica, Calif.
“Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc stands out to me as it offers something unique to the novice and experienced wine connoisseur. It’s not aged in barrels but entirely fermented in concrete. To the novice, right off the nose, you will find grapefruit and hints of citrus. To the avid wine drinker, you could find figs and some minerals. Overall, a nice refreshing and balanced wine.” —Cody Bridges, restaurant operations manager, Shenandoah Provisions at Massanutten Resort, Massanutten, Va.
“Sauvignon Blancs from the Touraine region are often overlooked in favor of their more illustrious counterparts from Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, but they truly deserve more recognition. This region in the Loire Valley produces wines that are bright, crisp, and wonderfully aromatic, often exhibiting a unique mineral profile due to the limestone-rich soils. They offer an impressive balance of racy acidity, fresh fruit flavors and often a distinctive hint of elderflower. Yet, they are typically more affordable than the Sauvignon Blancs from their Loire counterparts [like] Sancerre. This combination of high quality and good value makes the Sauvignon Blancs from Touraine an underrated gem in the world of wine.” —Joseph Lapi, director of wine, RPM Restaurants, Chicago, D.C., Las Vegas
“Menetou-Salon and Pouilly-Fumé. I don’t know if they’re underrated by those who drink them, but definitely have a smaller market share and less of a following than Sancerre. On the more approachable end, you have wines like Philippe Gilbert from Menetou that drink refreshing and mineral and show the character of Sauvy B very well. On the high end there are wines like Dagueneau that show amazing terroir and power. I think there has been a lot of change in the style of wine made at the top levels of the Loire Valley in general, be it climate change or more of a culture change, but it’s not always your patio-pounding, crushable white wine. Check out Gerard Boulay, Vacheron, Alphonse Mellot, and/or the Cotat Brothers and you’ll see what I’m talking about.” —Andrew Thompson, wine director, Eastern Standard, Boston