It seems a while ago now, but back in July 2010 I visited New Zealand with the sole purpose of interviewing researchers who have been working on all aspects of the science of Sauvignon blanc.
It’s probably the world’s most thoroughly researched grape variety, and with New Zealand Winegrowers I discussed the possibility of trying to distil all the research work on Sauvignon into a short book that brings the science to life, making it accessible to the wine trade without dumbing it down.
Two years later, the book is finished and printed, and there’s even a kindle edition.
For the last few years, scientists in New Zealand, France and Australia have been busy working on the science of Sauvignon. What are the key aroma and flavour molecules in Sauvignon blanc wines? And what is it that makes Sauvignon blanc from New Zealand’s Marlborough region so distinctive?
To answer questions such as these requires a multidisciplinary approach, bringing together chemists, plant biologists, molecular biologists and sensory scientists. New Zealand in particular has invested a lot of money in attempting to understand the roles of terroir, viticulture and winemaking on the way that Sauvignon blanc wines taste.
This research is ongoing, but it has already provided some important insights as well as a few surprises. In this book, I have worked in collaboration with New Zealand Winegrowers to tell the story of the science of Sauvignon, and examines what we know now about this important grape variety, with particular emphasis on the ground-breaking research work carried out by researchers in New Zealand.
The impact of this research stretches beyond Sauvignon: in effect, Sauvignon has become what scientists call a ‘model system’, in that this heavily researched variety provides information that is relevant to all grape varieties, and wine more generally.