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What Is Fumé Blanc?

What Is Fumé Blanc?

Wine is a complex thing. There are so many wine varieties that it can seem like an impossible mission to taste every wine on earth. Let me save you some trouble by introducing you to a new wine: Fumé Blanc.

What Is Fumé Blanc?

Fumé Blanc is a white wine produced from the Sauvignon Blanc grape. Fumé Blanc is typically made in California.

Robert Mondavi is the originator of Fumé Blanc. Sauvignon Blanc came to North America in the latter part of the 1800s. It was not a well-liked wine.

Most people considered Sauvignon Blanc overly sweet, grassy, and acidic. In fact, they thought the name was too hard to pronounce, so wine lovers often overlooked it.

Mondavi had produced a high-quality dry Sauvignon Blanc that was dry fermented and then aged in oak barrels. However, since this type of white wine was not well received,

Mondavi came up with the idea to give the wine a new name. So, he tore a page out of the winemakers in Pouilly Fume, France and named the wine Fumé Blanc.

Fumà or Fume is a French word that means a smoke-like material, while the word blanc means white. Mondavi’s marketing trick worked, and the wine was a hit.

Unfortunately, since Mondavi did not trademark Fumé Blanc, other winemakers all over the world started calling their Sauvignon Blanc Fumé Blanc to get it off the shelves.

Nevertheless, today Fumé Blanc is a style of wine that involves fermenting Sauvignon Blanc and is aged in oak barrels. The process is similar to making chardonnay wine.

Some producers separate their Sauvignon Blanc. So part of the wine is fermented in stainless steel barrels, and the other part ferments in oak barrels. As a result, Fumé Blanc has a drier, pronounced mineral, complex flavor.

What’s the Difference Between Sauvignon Blanc Andfumé Blanc

The main difference between Sauvignon Blanc and Fumé Blanc depends on how it is made and aged. Fumé Blanc is technically Sauvignon Blanc.

However, Fumé Blanc is aged in oak barrels post-fermentation. In contrast, Sauvignon Blanc has aged in stainless steel containers post-fermentation.

Is Fumé Blanc Dry or Sweet?

There was some confusion about Fumé Blanc’s flavor because it had a subtle sweet flavor. However, Fumé Blanc is a dry white wine, not a sweet white wine.

How Long Is Fumé Blanc Aged

Sauvignon Blanc has to be aged to be converted into Fumé Blanc. Once fermented, it is aged in French oak barrels for 10 months. 

Some winemakers prefer to use old oak to age the Fumé Blanc. They can also age Fumé Blanc for up to 2 years.

Do You Chill Fumé Blanc?

Fumé Blanc has more viscosity than the average Sauvignon Blanc. Nevertheless, this does not mean the wine does not need to be chilled.

Decreasing the Fumé Blanc’s temperature will allow you to experience its full flavor. If it is overly warm, the alcohol profile of the Fumé Blanc will be more pronounced. The robust acidic flavor will taste flat.

In contrast, if the Fumé Blanc is overly cold, it will be like deleting the wine’s complexity. You will not be able to smell or taste the flavors of the wine.

Fumé Blanc should be served at a temperature between 50°F–55°F. If you don’t have a wine cooler, you can place Fumé Blanc in the fridge for 2 hours to achieve the perfect temperature. Alternatively, you can place the Fumé Blanc into a bucket of water and ice for 20-30 minutes.

Serve the Fumé Blanc to your guests in medium-sized white wine glasses. The perimeter of the rime will be wide enough that a magic trick occurs between the wine’s surface and the oxygen in the air. This allows you to taste the smoky notes of the Fumé Blanc.

If you are unable to finish a bottle of Fumé Blanc, place the cork back into the bottle really well and refrigerate the wine. The wine will last for about 3 days. After 3 days, the Fumé Blanc starts to oxidize and develop an unappealing vinegar-like flavor.

What To Serve With Fumé Blanc

Fumé Blanc is a versatile wine that compliments many foods. For example, creamy cheeses like brie, salmon, tilapia, herring, or any type of fish work well with Fumé Blanc. You can also serve the Fumé Blanc with milder cheeses, shellfish, mussels, oysters, pasta, appetizers, and poultry.

Final Thoughts

Fumé Blanc is a delicious wine. And yes, it is technically Sauvignon Blanc, but the flavor is so much more complex that it’s in a lane of its own. Don’t believe me, grab a bottle of Fumé Blanc, pour a glass, and try it for yourself.