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Savagnin grapes

The Savagnin grape is a white variety grape originating from the Jura region of sub-alpine France. Of being of cold origin, the grape has thus adapted itself only to grow in cold temperatures with the distinct clay like soils that populate the area of eastern France.

It is a fairly old variety and has found applications in producing sherry like wines as well as sweet, varietal wines.

The variety has become so popular around the Jura region, that a lot of people and its consumers started confusing it with Sauvignon Blanc, although all of its characteristics and traits completely differ from the latter grape.

It is also just a locally produced variety and has no presence when it comes to competing with Sauvignon Blanc.

Wine grape varieties

Savagnin is a delicious variety, with full, rich flavours of nuts, dipped in some sugar, being its dominant flavours.

It is also a very aromatic variety with deep yellow shades being its typical colour of its wines as well as some of the finest examples of Jura wines that are produced in very limited quantities.

Origins of Savagnin

Savagnin’s exact origins remain a shady mystery. A lot of DNA analyses have been done, that so far has resulted in more confusion and speculation regarding the grape’s exact origins.

It has a rather unstable genome as compared to grape varieties grown in proximity and that has resulted in the grape being gotten confused with some contemporary white varieties that are grown in adjoining regions. Such examples include Traminer, Frakisch and Paien, among others.

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The famous ampelographer noted the variety’s skin colour and matching characteristics with the Traminer variety grown in Switzerland that created most of the confusion.

Pierre Galet, who studied the variety in the 16th century, put it as a ‘clone’ of Traminer, and even went on explaining Savagnin’s possible close relation with Traminer.

As DNA studies become more in-depth, it was however soon found out that the grape is not at all related to Sauvignon Blanc, and has over the years, given a lot of clones that have different regional synonyms.

Frakisch of Austria, Paien of Sqitzerland, Heida, Formentin of Hungary and Grumin of Bohemia all seem to be the same grape variety.

In addition, Savagnin mutated at some point of time and crossed with Traminer to give rise to pink skinned varieties, called Red Traminers or Savagnin Rose.

Galet speculated that these grapes might have undergone a cross with a grape from the Muscat family, given its pink character, although these have been disputed and no such mutation with Muscat have been found so far.

As of now, the claim thus stands that Savagnin is most probably an indigenous variety from Jura, that accidentally has shared marked similarities with similar other such varieties like Sauvignon Blanc.

Distribution of wines

Savagnin is mostly found cultivating in French, German and Swiss vineyards. France produced the brunt of it, with some 472 acres being devoted to it, while a couple of hundred acres found in Germany and Switzerland, and not very surprisingly, in Australia as well.

The grape, due to its regional presence and popularity, has earned a number of synonyms in every local dialect as possible.

German names such Nuernberger Rot, Rothweiner and Klaebinger depict its Germanic association while certain other names such as Ruska, Ryvola, Mirisavi and Roktlevner suggest its strong presence in eastern Europe as well (Hungary).

Of course, the remaining list of synonyms is its French names, like Blanc Brun, Auvernas Rouge, Savagnin Juane, Savagnin Aromatique, etc. Some are also Italian, although Savagnin is very sparsely found in Italy.

Wines with Savagnin grapes


Savagnin is a late ripening variety, picked as late as December. So it’s a cold season variety.

It’s also a temperamental grape, meaning that it can either give off a high yield or a lower one, depending on its ‘mood’ and the environment, it was cultivated in, so the variety is somewhat riskier than its contemporary varieties as far as profits and finances are concerned.

Food pairing

Savagnin, due to its floral aromas and fresh fruit flavours, goes with almost all of French items and especially cheeses like the Comte, that goes very well with the vin juane, or a Gruyere cheese soufflé.

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Michael Bredahl

Michael Bredahl

Wine Writer

Michael is an online enthusiast, with a lot of knowledge about online marketing. Traveling around the world to hunt for the perfect wine. Latest on Sicily, where Etna has a huge impact on the taste, which is strong with a bitter aftertaste for the youngest wines, but older wines are fantastic. Drinking wine, and writing about them, are one the passions. Remember to drink responsibly 🙂

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