It may be American Craft Beer Week, but it’s also Wine Wednesday, so I wanted to share with you a wine that we finally enjoyed last week! This Pouilly-Fumé {pronounced poo-yee foo-MAY} was given to us as a gift by our friends Brian and Erik in November. It was time!

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So what is a Pouilly-Fumé, you ask?

Well, if you are new to wine, let me just start off by telling you that one of the most confusing things when I started learning about wine was understanding what varietals each bottle contained.

You see, in the U.S. {and most of the New World}, we tend to label our wines by the varietal: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, etc.

In the Old World {think Europe}, wines are most often labeled by the region. Most of the time, the varietal isn’t even listed on the bottle. For example, a Bordeaux isn’t usually labeled as a Cabernet-Merlot, nor is a Burgundy {Bourgogne} labeled as Pinot Noir (red) nor Chardonnay (white). It is just known what type of grape it is made of because they’ve been growing the same grapes in these regions for hundreds of years. It has become commonplace, and even law, that wines from these regions are made from specific grapes.

On the other hand, in the U.S., despite that this particular region is known for it’s stellar Cabernets, you don’t see a wine called a Napa.Other grapes are grown and different wines produced here, too. That is why you will see the varietal listed along with the region.

In addition, there are even smaller regions within the bigger ones that also label wines. In France, these viticultural area are called Appellation d’origine Contrôlée or AOC. That’s why you will also see a Bordeaux labeled as Margaux or Pomerol, for instance.

Confused yet?

In any case, Pouilly-Fumé vineyards are found in the Loire Valley of France and produce spectacular Sauvignon Blancs. Our wine’s back label indicates such for it’s anglophone market:

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Now, Rob is not a huge fan of Sauvignon Blanc, sometimes from California, but mostly from New Zealand, which, to him, taste too much like green pepper.

Though dry, French Sauvignon Blancs aren’t as abrasive on the palate as Rob finds the New World versions. This one did not disappoint! It was easy drinking with well-balanced citrus and mineral notes. It paired perfectly with our sausage pasta tossed with veggies and a pesto cream sauce based loosely on this recipe. That’s a pretty non-traditional pairing; but it worked.

More traditional pairings include roast pork, grilled fish and scallops. You know, your lighter meats. Pairing the weight of the wine with the weight of the food is always a good bet. Otherwise, match the flavors in the wine with the flavors in the food. The citrus notes in this sauce would pair well with any seafood with a citrus-based sauce, such as the Grapefruit Walleye I made here. I’ve also read that a Pouilly-Fumé can work well with omelets, oysters and smoked salmon. And one of my favorite pairings with Sauvignon Blanc is a warm goat cheese salad with fresh herbs. My mouth is watering just thinking about that one!

But sometimes, just sometimes, you need to pair your Pouilly-Fumé with something “local”:

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We enjoyed our Pouilly-Fumé with an episode of the new TV series Fargo. Yah, you betcha.

No regrets.

After all of that, it’s important to point out that Pouilly-Fumé is not to be confused with Pouilly-Fuissé {pronounced poo-yee fwee-SAY} which is a wine that hails from the Burgundy region of France and is made of Chardonnay.

Furthermore, the word fumé in French means “smoked.” However there is nothing smoky about either of these wines. Generally speaking, most are fermented in stainless steel, not oak barrels.

More confusion? Well, then just drink the wine. That’s the easy – and most fun – part.

What is your favorite Sauvignon Blanc?

What is your favorite Sauvignon Blanc wine pairing?



3 responses »

  1. I have a friend from high school who will post on Facebook that she’s pulled out a little wine for book club and its a $60 bottle of Pouilly-Fuisse Chardonnay! I want to be invited to that book club!

    My budget is a bit smaller, but I enjoy Kim Crawford – that’s a summer wine I like to drink. If only it felt like summer – it was 39 degrees this morning when I left the house!

  2. I’m a bit surprised they actually have the grape even on the back label; the French can be a bit prideful in assuming grapes-per-region even for that!

    Can never really figure out my favorite kind of Sauvignon Blanc. The crazy and wild Marlborough are so fun and interesting, not to mention tasty when done right, but the refined and minerally Sancerres and Pouilly Fumes hit as much of a good spot, just in a different way. One of those grapes I can never really decide. I did, however, have this one very memorable bottle of Fume Blanc (Sauvignon aged in oak) that was made in Turkey. The very kitchy Californian style of barrel/oak-contact with the grape can be somewhat odd or clunky at best, but this one was perfectly delicate, light, just enough of that light vanilla and spices mixed with a refreshing acidity and tart fruit palette. Or something like that, it’s been a while since I had it. It was paired with a dish composed of things like Chicken Liver Pate, Crayfish, Truffle, Oak and Moss essences, and Peas.

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