Why Fumé Blanc for Sauvignon Blanc?

Fume blanc

Sauvignon Blanc grapes growing in the Dry Creek Valley
Will these grapes become Fumé Blanc wine?

Why Fumé Blanc for Sauvignon Blanc?

Why do some wines that are made with Sauvignon Blanc grapes have Fumé Blanc on the label? The reason: a marketing ploy created by Robert Mondavi back in 1966. This is a direct quote from Julia Flynn Siler’s book, The House of Mondavi, the Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty. It best explains why Fumé Blanc for Sauvignon Blanc. “Robert Mondavi invented a faux French name as a way of glamorizing the everyday Sauvignon Blanc grape. Much of the wine made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape in those days was of poor quality, but Robert took the crop provided by his growers and aged it in French barrels. Modeling it after herbaceous whites from the Loire Valley, as well as softer, oak-aged ones from Bordeaux, Robert transposed what was known as blanc fumé in France, and marketed it, in a twist, as Fumé Blanc.”

And indeed the Fume Blanc on the label was a fantastic marketing success for Robert Mondavi and his new winery. There is no legal definition of Fumé Blanc on a wine label. Several California wineries produce a wine from Sauvignon Blanc grapes and label the bottle as Fumé Blanc. To this day, it is a marketing strategy. A few days ago I reviewed a Fumé Blanc produced by Ferrari-Carano and in this article I review the Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé Blanc 2014.

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Fume Blanc produced by Dry Creek Vineyard

Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé Blanc 2014 Safeway – $8.99

Like the Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc, the Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé is another old standby. In fact, Dry Creek Vineyard has been making this wine since 1972. It is produced in large numbers and is widely available at many food stores including the Safeway and Trader Joe’s. The 2014 version is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc grapes from the Dry Creek Valley and the Russian River Valley. The Sauvignon Blanc grapes from these two regions are fermented separately in stainless steel tanks and then blended to produce a lovely wine. This version of the Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé Blanc has delicious citrus nuances and a crispness that refreshes. The finish on this wine is excellent. The price at the Safeway is $8.99 when you purchase a six-pack of wine, mix-or-match. The Dry Creek Vineyard online wine shop sells this wine for $14. I rate the Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé Blanc at 88 points. This an excellent picnic or outdoor party wine for a warm summer day. It is also great as cocktail wine!  Sauté up some Padrone peppers to sip with this bright Fumé Blanc.

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