WTF is SAUVIGNON BLANC called Fumé-Banc in the United States?

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In Episode #2 of the ‘What The Fruit is…’ new wine video series, we look at what is FUMÉ BLANC and why Americans call Sauvignon Blanc that way in the USA.

Watch WTF is… Episode #1 about Minerality:

Some of the most ‘Fumé Blanc’ wines in California and the world include:
Robert Mondavi Winery Fume Blanc, Napa Valley
Ferrari-Carano Fume Blanc, Sonoma County
Grgich Hills Estate Grown Dry Sauvignon Blanc – Fume Blanc, Napa Valley
Robert Mondavi Winery To Kalon Vineyard Reserve Fume Blanc, Napa Valley
Robert Mondavi Winery Fume Blanc, Oakville, USA
Dry Creek Vineyard Fume Blanc, Sonoma County,
Murphy-Goode The Fume Sauvignon Blanc, North Coast
Barnard Griffin Fume Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley
Oliver Zeter ‘Fume’ Sauvignon Blanc
Costa Lazaridi Amethystos ‘Fume’ Sauvignon Blanc PGI Drama, Macedonia, Greece
Alpha Estate Fume Sauvignon Blanc, Amyndaio, Greece
Chateau St Jean Fume Blanc, Sonoma County
Ktima Gerovassiliou Fume Sauvignon Blanc PGI Epanomi, Macedonia, Greece
Amisfield Fume Sauvignon Blanc, Central Otago, New Zealand
Didier Dagueneau Blanc Fume de Pouilly, Loire, France

The story behind Robert Mondavi inventing the terms Fumé-Blanc…

Video Content (Transcription):
What is up guys ? This is Julien, the French winemaking guy who makes wine videos here on YouTube. Yes, wine videos… And this is Episode two of my video series ‘What The Fruit is…’
We are looking at why Sauvignon Blanc, the grape variety and the wine, is often called Fumé Blanc in the United States. There a few great articles available online on the topic including one by that I used for this video that I recommend reading, link in the video description…
If you’ve missed Episode 1 of the What the Fruit series, it was about minerality which you’ll also find sometimes in Fumé-Blanc, so if you want to know more about what the term means, stick around the channel after today’s story, ad consider subscribing to follow along the journey.
So this is, in short, what the fruit is Fumé Blanc…
Essentially, Sauvignon Blanc has been grown in the US since the end of the 1800s, but all along the first half of the 19th Century, the grape was used to make cheap and boring sweet white wines to quench the Americans’ thirst for sweet wines, which if you remember, used to be most of what the majority of Americans would drink as far as wine was concerned at the time.
Now, in the 1960s, the late Robert Mondavi recognized the potential of the grape, and wanted to differentiate his new style of ‘quality’ Sauvignon Blanc dry white from the bulky image Sauv Blanc had back then.
So, he took the word ‘Fumé’ which in French means ‘smoky’ or smoked, and which is also part of the name of a famous Sauvignon Blanc French wine called Pouilly-Fumé, named after a village called Pouilly on the Loire river of France, next to Sancerre. Et Voilà!
Mr Mondavi had created a new staple name in the world of American wine. Fumé-Blanc.
Now Mondavi did not register the name. So anyone could use it. And since the style had become very popular, well, many wineries started making Fumé-Blanc. To the point that now Fumé-Blanc is generally associated with an oaky style of Sauvignon Blanc wine, oaky and, yes, generally smoky.
Even though, technically, a Fumé-Blanc wine doesn’t have to be oaked to called so. It’s just a synonym of Sauvignon Blanc, but practically it is more often than not an oaky American style of Sauvignon Blanc.
Now, so we share the knowledge here as well and it’s not just me sharing with the wine community, two questions for you: 1) do you know of any Fumé-blanc that wouldn’t be oaky 2) What is you favorite Fumé-Blanc wine, one really worth tasting. Thanks for that…
Here you’ve got, if you’d been wondering What the Fruit is Fumé Blanc and Why, know you know…

Interesting reads, sources and references about Fumé-Blanc:
Decanter’s article about Fumé Blanc:
About Robert Mondavi:
Why some winamkers still use the name Fumé Blanc:


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