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Sauvignon Blanc









Savagnin or Savagnin Blanc is a variety of white wine grape with green-skinned berries. It is mostly grown in the Jura region of France, where it is made into the famous vin jaune and vin de paille.

Also known as vin jaune (yellow wine), the Chateau-Chalon is so exotic and elegant that Emperor Napoleon labeled it as “the best wine in the world”.


Wine description similar to sherry
Food pairing walnuts and comte cheese
Origin The Alps
Notable regions Jura, France
Notable wine(s) Vin jaune, vin de paille --Château-Chalon


The history of Savagnin is complicated, and not helped by its rather unstable genome. The story starts with the ancient Traminer variety, a green-skinned grape recorded in the Tyrolean village of Tramin (Termeno) from ca. 1000 until the 16th century (this region now encompasses the Italian province of Bolzano-Bozen). The famous ampelographer Pierre Galet thought that Traminer was identical to the green-skinned Savagnin Blanc in the Jura.[1] More recently it has been suggested that Savagnin Blanc acquired slight differences in its leaf shape and geraniol content[2] as it travelled to the other end of the Alps. Frankisch in Austria, Heida in Switzerland, Formentin in Hungary and Grumin from Bohemia are all very similar to Savagnin Blanc and probably represent clones of the Traminer family, if not Traminer itself. The Viognier of the Rhone Valley may be a more distant relative of Savagnin Blanc.

At some point, either Traminer or Savagnin Blanc mutated into a form with pink-skinned berries, called Red Traminer or Savagnin Rose. Galet believed that a musqué ('muscat-like') mutation in the Red Traminer/Savagnin Rose then led to the extra-aromatic Gewürztraminer, although in Germany these names are all regarded as synonymous.

With these convoluted genetics happening in the area that has been the front line for a millennium of wars in Europe, it's maybe not surprising that vines have been misnamed. Given that the wine made from 'Gewürztraminer' in Germany can be much less aromatic than that in Alsace, some of the German vines may well be misidentified Savagnin Rose. The Baden vineyard of Durbach claims its own type of Red Traminer called Durbacher Clevner (not to be confused with "Klevner", an Austrian synonym for Pinot Blanc). The story goes that in 1780 Karl Friedrich, Grand Duke of Baden brought vines from Chiavenna in Italy, halfway between Tramin and the Jura, which was known to the Germans as Cleven.

The Klevener de Heiligenstein or Heiligensteiner Klevener found around Heiligenstein in Alsace may represent an outpost of the Durbach vines. They are often described as a less aromatic form of Gewürztraminer, which sounds just like the Red Traminer! The varieties Aubin Blanc and the Champagne grape Petit Meslier are probably the result of a cross between Gouais Blanc and Savagnin Blanc.


Savagnin Blanc is mostly grown in the Jura. In 2007, total French plantations of the variety stood at 472 hectares (1,170 acres).[3] It is most famous as the only grape allowed in the vin jaunes of Château-Chalon and L'Étoile, similar to fino sherry with a covering of flor but not fortified and without the use of the solera system. Savagnin is blended with Chardonnay to make a conventional dry white wine in L'Étoile and Côtes du Jura, the fortified Macvin du Jura, a sparkling wine called Crémant du Jura It is also blended into Côtes du Jura vin de paille, a dessert wine [4] made from grapes left to dry on straw. The Gringet of Savoie has no link with Savagnin Blanc[5].

Vine and viticultureSavagnin Blanc is very late ripening, and may be picked as late as December. Like its cousin Gewürztraminer, it is a temperamental grape to grow, with low yields at the end of it.

See Also:

Home Wine Page
History of Wine
Classification of Wines
Science of Taste
The Science of Wine Aroma
About the Acids in Wine
Polyphenols (Tannins) in Wine
Oak in Wines
The Basic Wine Pairing Rules
Science of Food and Wine Pairing
Sugars in Wine
About Wine Tasting
Wine Tasting Terms
Storage of Wine
Aging of Wine
Wine Acessories
Headaches from Wine
About a Wine Sommelier


  1. winepros.com.au. Oxford Companion to Wine. "Savagnin". http://www.winepros.com.au/jsp/cda/reference/oxford_entry.jsp?entry_id=2872. 
  2. Scienza, A; Villa,P; Gianazza,E; Mattivi,F & Versini,G (18 May 1990). "La Caratterizzazione Genetica Del Traminer". Gewuerztraminer, Traminer Aromatico. Symposium in Bolzano, Italy.
  3. Viniflhor stats 2008: Les cepages blanc dans le vignoble
  4. url = http://www.desertwine.com/
  5. http://www.berthomeau.com/article-le-gringet-un-quasi-monopole-savoyard-de-dominique-belluard-vigneron-d-ayze-37799369.html


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