Hello there! Since the last time I checked in, I’ve completed my level 1 WSET course. Now, I’m patiently waiting to (hopefully) receive my diploma and a letter saying I passed the exam. Send positive thoughts my way!
While going through the course and studying for the exam, I read about Fumé Blanc – a Sauvignon Blanc from California that is fermented in oak barrels. An oaked Sauvignon Blanc?! This I had to try.
Sauvignon Blanc is known for its bright, crisp flavours, which isn’t really associated with fermentation in oak barrels. Sauv Blanc loves steel barrels. Oak barrels = creamy, vanilla, & spice. Fumé Blanc is richer with more melon-like flavours whereas a Sauvignon Blanc will give you those sharp citrus flavours and aromatics we usually associate with this varietal. There are less herbaceous notes – grassy, peppers, etc. – in this Fumé Blanc. I find myself drawn to Sauvignon Blancs in the summer. They are refreshing and citrusy. This on the other hand has been perfect during the colder nights Southern California is having and may be nice for the even colder nights I’ll be having when I’m back in NY. It has a slight richness and smoothness similar to chardonnay that it’s pulling from the oak barrels with the acidity and freshness of the Sauvignon Blanc. A very nice balance!
The story behind Fumé Blanc is almost better than this wine. In the 1960’s, Sauvignon Blanc didn’t have many fans. People thought it was too hard to pronounce, too sweet, or too grassy. Sometime around 1968, Robert Mondavi started producing some quality, promising Sauvignon Blanc. While he knew the wine would be delicious, he wanted to make sure people would actually buy it and give it a chance. So, he made up a name – Fumé Blanc. Fumé Blanc was derived from Pouilly-Fumé, one of the most popular dry-style Loire Valley wines made from Sauvignon Blanc.  Mondavi did not trademark this name. You can find other wineries producing similar dry-style Sauvignon Blancs using the name Fumé Blanc.
So, next time you’re in your local wine shop see if they have a Fumé Blanc in stock! It’s definitely worth a try.
You can read a little more about how the name came about over at wine.com.
all images original to Pardon My French blog