Thursday, January 31, 2008

Mondavi Fumé Blanc

When I first began drinking wine many years ago, Robert Mondavi's Fumé Blanc quickly became one of my favorites. There really is no such thing as a Fumé Blanc grape. In the late 1960s, Mondavi wanted to do something about slumping sales of his Sauvignon Blanc. So, he made up the name 'Fumé Blanc' and sales took off. Unfortunately for Mondavi, he did not trademark the name, and now many other producers use it to market their Sauvignon Blancs.

Mondavi patterned his new name after a dry French wine made in the Loire Valley that is known as 'Pouilly-Fumé.' It is made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape and is reputed to be known for its unusual, smoky flavor. Whatever smoky flavor there may be comes from toasted barrels rather than the grape itself.

Earlier this week I opened a bottle of Mondavi Fumé Blanc for the first time in years. In fact, it was the first time I have had white wine at home in a very long time. Like many avid wine drinkers, I prefer reds. I had forgotten how enjoyable a simple white wine can be.

Fumé Blanc is a not a complex wine. It lacks the depth and subtlety of a full-bodied red. But sometimes simplicity can be refreshing. I found the dry Fumé Blanc to be clean, crisp, slightly fruity and as easy to drink as a Sprite. It paired especially well with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich I fixed on Tuesday. (Seriously, it really did.) A strong, serious Chardonnay would not have gone well with PB&J.

The Mondavi Fumé Blanc comes in a signature frosted bottle that makes a nice presentation. I highly recommend it for a nice, casual change of pace.

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