Fumé Blanc – Sauvignon Blanc with an American twist
New world or old world
When offered a choice of Sauvignon Blanc, wine lovers may ask whether the varietal is produced in an old or new world wine region.
Sancerre with its aromatic wines is an old world varietal coming from the Loire Valley.
Pouilly-Fumé is a softer presentation of Sauvignon Blanc with a smoky character with grapes grown in flint soils from the central France department of Nième.
New world Sauvignon Blanc burst onto the scene with prominence from New Zealand’s Cloud Bay in the mid 1980’s. With an herbal, crisp taste this production provided a contrast with old world wines so pronounced that some wine drinkers may not realize that these come from the same grapes.
The Late Robert Mondavi . creator of the Fumé Blanc vintage of American Sauvignon Blanc.
photo courtesy of the New York Times (2008)
Fumé Blanc – Loire influence
What is lesser known is the American Fumé Blanc wine established by wine producing legend Robert Mondavi after an extended time spent in the Loire Valley of France. Mondavi knew that the wines being produced in America from the Sauvignon Blanc grapes were not considered to be of the highest quality.
Fumé Blanc was created to invigorate the sale and production of the varietal in the U.S. during the 1960s. Mondavi believed that creating a dry, crisp version of the wine similar to that of the Loire offerings would be best created by aging in oak barrels.
Recognizing that other winemakers in the U.S. could benefit from selling their Sauvignon Blanc grapes with smoky fruit characteristics, Mondavi declined to trademark the Fumé Blanc name. He petitioned the ATF to register Fumé Blanc as a legal synonym for Sauvignon Blanc.
One Fumé Blanc that I enjoy with seafood is Ferrari Carano. I was introduced to both the name and the wine during a visit in March to a Pier 39 restaurant – The Crab House. I asked the server if there was a Sancerre wine since I did not see one on the menu and he astutely recommended the Ferrari Carano Fumé Blanc.
Similar to old world Sauvignon Blancs, this wine has an aromatic nose featuring stone fruit and citrus flavors.
Lovers of Sauvignon Blanc – both old and new world – should like this simple and smooth version of Sauvignon Blanc at a friendly price point.
Apple, citrus notes and dried herbs.
Grapefuit and lemongrass.
13.9% alcohol content
Price point range: $13 – $15