Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Pouilly-Fumé Sauvignon Blanc is hard to beat. Loire and Marlborough getting closer?

Pouilly-Fumé Sauvignon Blanc is hard to beat
Loire and Marlborough getting closer?
The Loire

When it comes to Sauvignon Blanc, there are two main "religions" and many splinter groups. In the main, there is a "battle" between those who believe in wines made in the Loire area (the source) and those converts to the more intense Marlborough gospel. But the grape grows well in many places and SBs from Australia, Chile, and California, and more, will have their disciplines. And though you'll find excellent examples in all areas, I must admit I'm almost always more comfortable with a bottle from the Loire.

Here, there is even a split, as Sancerre is perhaps the best-known. Below, we have two from Pouilly Fumé which is generally more or less of similar standard as Sancerre (across the river). Indeed, the World Atlas of Wine declares: “It would be a brave taster who maintained he or she could always tell a Pouilly Fumé from a Sancerre. The best of each are on the same level; the Sancerre perhaps slightly fuller and more obvious, the Pouilly Fumé more perfumed.”

Perhaps though there is a middle ground emerging between the Loire and Marlborough. Just like the world in general, the wine world is changing, quite often because of the exchange of knowledge and know-how between different regions and you will read that the gap between the Loire and Marlborough is narrowing. Wines from both areas were brought together in a London tasting in 2019. Jamie Goode and Rebecca Gibb MW made the case for the regions. In blind tastings, several MWs and leading wine experts mistook New Zealand Sauvignons for Loire wines and vice versa.

Victoria Kukla told DRN: “New Zealand and the Loire are always pitted against each other when it comes to Sauvignon Blanc. People have preconceptions about both regions, but Sauvignon Blanc has evolved so much and there’s so much talent working in New Zealand and going over to the Loire, and vice versa and we just felt that with this tasting we wanted to challenge all the preconceptions that people had.” Read more here. Henri Bourgeois below are involved in wine-making in both France and New Zealand.

Henri Bourgeois La Porte de l' Abbaye Pouilly-Fumé 2018, 13%, €25.95 O’Briens Wine.

For 10 generations, the label declares, the Bourgeois family have been producing handcrafted wines that “reflect our terroirs, our traditions, our passions”. Food pairings suggested for this Sauvignon Blanc are: fish, white meat, goat cheese or a simple scallops tartare with lime. Best served 10-12 degrees. Other suggestions I’ve seen are Turbot with spinach and feta cheese, or a Crottin de Chavignol goat cheese with toasted sesame seeds.

O’Brien’s are very strong on this one: “Henri Bourgeois is one of the Loire's most celebrated premium producers. This Sauvignon Blanc has been a real revelation. This unoaked white wine has an electric balance between fresh mouth-watering fruit and a benchmark mineral character characteristic of Sauvignon Blanc grown on a great terroir. Absolutely delicious.” And, having giving it a good run, I agree.

Colour is light straw with green tints. Pear and citrus combine in the calm scents, nothing like the pungent Marlborough Sauvignon Blancs. Quite a minerally tingle on the palate, lime and pear in the mouthwatering flavour, fresh and lively and the finish is persistent and dry. Matured on its lees for five months, it has an excellent mouthfeel. Concentrated and elegant, this is Very Highly Recommended.

Gitton Père & Fils Clos Joanne D’Orion Pouilly Fumé (AOC) 2017, 13%, Karwig 13.95 in 2019 closing-down sale

This Sauvignon Blanc shows as a lovely bright gold in the glass. More herbaceous than fruity in the aromas (which are nowhere near as pungent as you’d find in the Marlborough version). Fresh and fruity on the palate. Crisp and acidic, and dry of course, and the cirtrus-y finish is long and satisfying. Suggested pairings are white fish, seafood, and goats cheese. Highly Recommended.

Pouilly Fumé is one the signature wines of the Loire area. The fumé is French for 'smoky'. According to Wine-Searcher, it denotes the struck gunflint aroma that characterises the local Sauvignon Blanc wines. This distinctive smell is often referred to as pierre à fusil, which means 'flint' (literally 'rifle stone'). It is a key point of differentiation for Pouilly-Fumé's winemakers, and a source of great local pride.” Can’t say I got any convincing trace of it in the scent here!

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