Fume Blanc? Any idea what it is exactly? I didn’t until just a few years ago. In a nutshell, Fume Blanc is a marketing term conceived of and utilized by the late great Robert Mondavi to sell a rather fine batch of Sauvignon Blanc, a grape much maligned in the United States until the 1970’s. Despite the fact that wine lovers had been buying and loving Loire Valley Pouilly Fume for decades (made from the exact same varietal) attempts to successfully market and sell this particular grape had fallen flat. A clever play on Sauvignon Blanc and Pouilly Fume, this “new” wine, Fume Blanc, was an immediate hit in the wine world and Mr. Mondavi had a home run with his first bottling, way back in 1968!
Today, there are many wineries that have labeled their wines Fume Blanc. Certain winemakers put out wines labeled Fume Blanc and use the term to differentiate a wine style or aging method used in the production process. Often this means that the wine has seen some time in toasted French oak barrels giving it hints of smoke and vanilla. What is of particular interest to me is that this Mexican producer has adopted the name although the wine is fermented 100% in stainless steel. Perhaps they too see the value in this masterful marketing devise.
Wine: L.A. Cetto Fume Blanc
Producer: L.A. Cetto
Varietals: 100% Sauvignon Blanc
Region: Baja, Valle Guadalupe
Michele’s Notes: The grapes for this Fume Blanc are grown at common latitude and in similar terroire to its French cousins in the Loire Valley, but that is where the similarity ends. The color is a very pale yellow straw with traces of green and excellent clarity. The nose is crisp and bright with notes pineapple, grapefruit and freshly cut grass. This wine has a strong attack on the front palate with flavors of green papaya, melon, pineapple and citrus predominating. This elegant, light bodied vintage sees no time in wood nor is it aged in the bottle. It is meant to be drunk immediately and will not benefit from time on the rack. The acidity is quite pronounced with a long finish making it perfect for rich creamy sauces, grilled fatty fish and shellfish. Like the Monte Xanic “Vina Kristel” that we tasted last week, the labeling and bottle color has been changed from the last vintage I tasted (2005) and it is a nice improvement in packaging. I am impressed that these wineries are paying as much attention to the presentation as they are to the wine itself. This is a cheerful, easy to drink wine, priced to drink every day. If you are a fan of Chilean and most Californian Sauvignon Blanc, you will enjoy this bottling. Try it with raw oysters.
Purchased at Chedraui, Playa del Carmen, Price – 77 pesos.
“Notes on Napkins” is written by Michele Kinnon, Marketing Chairperson for Taste of Playa 2010 and owner of Buy Playa Real Estate Advisors in Playa del Carmen.