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Wine Finds: Fumé Blanc from California

Although California sauvignon blanc wine was once considered a cheap jug wine, the late Robert Mondavi, founder of Robert Mondavi Winery in Napa, changed the way it was made and marketed. Hoping to make a wine similar to the popular Pouilly-Fumé produced in France's Loire Valley, he began aging the white wine in French oak barrels. The first bottle of this new wine, which he called Fumé Blanc, was released in 1968. The name is still used by some California wineries, but not all of these sauvignon blanc wines are oaked. The following two examples would go well with seafood, poultry and green vegetables.

Dry Creek Vineyard 2021 Fumé Blanc, Sonoma County, California

Bought • Schnucks, 8800 Manchester Road, in May for $14.99

Description • Although Dave Stare, who founded this winery in the early 1970s, had been warned against trying to grow sauvignon blanc in Sonoma’s Dry Creek Valley area, he was intent on making Loire Valley style whites. He released his first Fumé Blanc in 1972 and now the wine consistently wins scores in the 90s. The current vintage, which celebrates the winery’s 50th anniversary, is elegant, crisp and refreshing tasting of zesty citrus with hints of peach and melon.

Ferrari-Carano 2021 Fumé Blanc, Sonoma County, California

Bought • Schnucks, 8800 Manchester Road, in May for $13.99

Description • Also a high scoring wine, this Fumé Blanc is made in a richer style than the Dry Creek. It’s one of the first two wines produced by Ferrari-Carano, which was founded in 1981. Partial aging in neutral French oak barrels for two months adds to its complexity and lends a touch of smoke to its flavor. It’s a medium- to full-bodied sauvignon blanc that tastes of tropical and stone fruit along with some herbs. It ends with a long, clean citrus finish.

Follow Gail on Twitter @GailAppleson.

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