Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Phooey! I can't remember the Pouillys!

Let's say that you like white wine and you have discovered that Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are different but both quite appealing varities. After several trips to your local wine store, you've tried the California Chardonnays (Edna, Chalone)and Sauvignon Blancs (Geyser Peak, Frogs Leap). You even ventured into the Southern Hemisphere, sampling Argentina, Australia and New Zealand's selections. At this point, feeling ready to branch out a bit more, both in geography and price range, you decide to head to the French aisle. But when you arrive, you can't find a single bottle of trusty Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. Instead you find yourself trying to pronounce (in your head of course) names like "Chassange-Montrachet" and "Gevrey-Chambertin."
Alright, at this point maybe you have remembered that French wines are labeled by their region, village or Chateau instead of their grape variety. So you think to yourself, "Pouilly-Fume is a white wine, but is it Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc?" Then there's Pouilly-Fuisse... now which one is that one? Two almost identical labels, neither of which you can properly pronounce... how can you tell them apart?

Here are 3 ways to help you remember how to match the grape with the name (One of these explanations was provided to me by a wine expert... can you tell which one?)

1. Let's look carefully at the words Fuisse and Fume. The middle consonants in each are ss and m. Take the "m" and go back one letter in the alphabet. Are you at L? Good! Now what's the first thing you think of that starts with L? Loire Valley of course! And what grape varietal is grown in the Loire? Yep, you guessed it... Sauvignon Blanc. Now you have a "quick and easy" way of remembering the difference between Pouilly-Fuisse and Pouilly-Fume.

2. Walk to the French section and find a bottle of Pouilly-Fume. Now you have two options. You can either tilt your head upside down or flip the bottle so that it's neck is pointing down. I vote for the first. What is the only letter that is right-side up in Fume? W! W stands for White and blanc means white in French, so clearly you have a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc in your hands! Buy it immediately and enjoy its smoky flavor.

3. Alright, here is your last option. Let's eliminate the first word "Pouilly," (which is pronounced pooh-YEE by the way) because its in both names. Okay, now we have Fume and Fuisee. Fume which means smoke in France was taken by Robert Mondavi. He took that word and used it to replace the word "Sauvignon"and ended up with "Fume Blanc," his fancy sophisticated name that was meant to attract wine drinkers back in the 1968 in California. If you can remember that Sauvignon Blanc = Fume Blanc = Pouilly-Fume, then you'll be set (just remember that the other one that doesn't end in Fume is Chardonnay).

Tasting Notes:
Oh forget the Pouilly business.. just give me some good, inexpensive French white wine.
Moulin de Gassac
Le Mazet Blanc 2006. This is a crisp, very dry, tart white wine from a very good producer. It is a blend of Clairette, Grenache Blanc and our favorite, Sauvignon Blanc! Not complicated but very appealing. $8.99

1 comment:

Katie and Yemi said...

Thank you!! I always wondered what to do with those similar names. Now I know... I think?