Sauvignon Blanc Wine Style Guide

Last updated: 9/2023

Applies to: winemakers looking to optimize the aromas and flavors of Sauvignon blanc and other cultivars containing aromatic thiols. This article contains a pdf download with complete process and product recommendations.

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Winemakers can drive wine style based on key processing decisions and correct product choice. We created these Scott Labs wine style guides to provide both process and product recommendations for helping winemakers achieve their stylistic goals.


Sauvignon blanc and Similar White Wines

Learn how we think about "Sauvignon blanc and Sauvignon blanc-Style wines" to determine if this style guide is right for you:


Sauvignon blanc is one of the most widely planted wine grapes in the world. Due to the diverse growing regions, viticultural practices, ripeness levels and winemaking inputs, Sauvignon blanc can be found in a variety of styles including mineral-focused, grassy, tropical and citrusy, and stone fruit-forward.


  • Chenin blanc
  • Pinot blanc
  • Grenache blanc
  • Gewürztraminer
  • Semillon
  • Hybrids like Vidal blanc and Seyval blanc


Understanding thiols (organo-sulfur based compounds)

The classic characters of Sauvignon blanc can be attributed in part to thiols. Thiolic non-aromatic precursors are present in the grape and are released over the course of fermentation to become aromatic. Common aromatic thiols include:

  • 3MH: 3MH contributes to classic Sauvignon blanc tropical and citrus notes. It is found in grape pulp and is revealed during fermentation by specific yeast strains.
  • 3MHA: Yeast can also convert 3MH into its ester form, 3MHA, which gives fruitier flavors and aromas.
  • 4MMP: 4MMP contributes to green and grassy flavors and aromas associated with cool-climate Sauvignon blanc. It is found in the grape skin and is maximized with skin contact.

Maximizing thiols

While viticultural practices will dictate maximum thiol potential of a grape, winemaking practices like skin contact, yeast selection, nutrient selection, and fermentation temperature management will contribute to maximum thiol revelation.

Protecting aroma

  • Use no to low H2S, SO2 yeast strains: Sauvignon blanc is prone to developing volatile sulfur off-odors even when good fermentation practices are employed. No to low H2S production yeast strains are listed in this guide and should be considered.
  • Protecting juice from oxidation: oxidation degrades thiols.

Protein stabilization during fermentation

Sauvignon blanc and Gewürztraminer are especially high in unstable proteins so fermenting on bentonite can help significantly reduce the amount needed post-fermentation.

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