A fair share of my Wine of the Week selections are chosen from microwineries, harder to find producers, geek or Rhone varieties, or wines over $20. That’s often what I drink, but certainly not all. It most especially does not represent, as I often remind my wine geek, fellow wine writers, and wine maker friends, what the mass population of North American wine drinkers consume.
I will often write about these as I remain dedicated to helping the typical wine lover and consumer, expand their horizons. Wine knowledge is a journey of ever broadening discovery, no matter what your experience level, and I would pass on some of my ‘wasted’ years and eye opening experiences, and save readers only drinking big red overoaked wines for your first ten years, which sadly over the last 20 years the consumer has been lead to think is ‘good’.
However, even in the world of mass market consumption, there ARE good wines you can find widely available, under $20, and just grab off the shelf.
The Dry Creek Vineyard Fumé Blanc is one of those. A price any budget can afford, a wine most wine consumers can enjoy (get over that ‘I don’t drink white wines’ stance – its killing your growth,) yet enough there for the experience wine consumer to enjoy, even if as a uber wine geek you’d ‘prefer’ a $30 ‘white’ 6 month skin contact Trousseau Gris.
About Dry Creek Vineyards
Dry Creek Vineyards is becoming one of those rare breed and size winery. Still family owned and operated since founded 39 years ago, as the winery that put Sauvignon Blanc on the map in north Sonoma County, they exist in a difficult space. At 100k+ cases they aren’t the sometimes more fashionable boutique winery, yet they are a fraction of the size of the BIG boys who make millions of cases a year. Only a handful of wineries exist in this size, and less and less each year. A visit to their tasting room and meeting the team, feels the same as the 20k case winery down the road. Perhaps more another time, but do take a few minutes to read about one of Dry Creek Valley’s pioneers, that brings a piece of the Loire Valley, by clicking here and their love affair with sauvignon blanc here.
I visited with Bill Smart, Director of Communications, several months ago and tasted through a series of wines. I should point out, Dry Creek Vineyards makes a number of small lot wines, including other sauvignon blancs, but by design for this tasting we wanted to focus on what consumers could find widely available. Do drop by the tasting room to try these – I will be.
About Fumé Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc is sometimes referred to as Fume’ Blanc. Purportedly this started when Robert Mondavi in 1968, changed their Sauvignon Blanc from an off dry to dry version. To not confuse their customers, they came up with the name “Fumé Blanc”, from Pouilly-Fumé, a popular dry-style Loire Valley wines made from Sauvignon Blanc. Rather than trade marking the name, Mondavi offered to allow anyone to use the Fumé Blanc name to market dry-style Sauvignon Blanc.
Fumé is French for “smoke,” but has nothing to do with smoky flavor in the wine. It refers to morning fog in the Loire Valley. Any’ smokey’ smells or flavors are from aging in newer oak barrels, not from any aroma or flavor character that is in Sauvignon Blac. Although some wineries choose oak barrel fermentation and/or oak aging, the use of Fumé Blanc on a label does not mean the wine was barrel-fermented or ever contact any oak, although it’s a common misperception that it does. (Another spin is that sauvignon blanc didn’t sell, so Robert changed the name.)
Dry Creek Vineyards Fume Blanc (Sauvignon Blanc), Sonoma County
Welcome to the 39th vintage of this flagship wine of Dry Creek Vineyards. This sauvignon blanc is entirely stainless fermented, with no oak contact.
On the Nose: Fragant nose of white peach, honeysuckle, grapefruit
In The Mouth: Citrus. Lime & grapefruit as well as some herbaceous characters found in the popular New Zealand sauvignon blancs, but with some minerality as well as great acidity that give it a bit more nuance. The finish is dry and mouth watering. Would pair well with shellfish, salads, or make a great aperitif.
Recommendation: An excellent value at $12. This wine has justly received many awards over the years, including recent Best Buy from Wine Enthusiast and in 2008 was the prestigious Sonoma County Harvest Fair (which I am pleased to be added as a judge this year) Sweepstakes winner.
89 Points – Excellent, Recommended Buy. Buy locally or online, or check your local store. Media Sample (but I will be restocking for summer and Thanksgiving.)
Side Note: I should add their <$10 Chenin Blanc, is also a great value at $8-10, and varietal I wish we saw more of in Sonoma. I have the 2009 also in my glass, current release is 2010, or it could have also ended up as a Wine of the Week.
Wine Geek Info:
- Grapes 100% Sauvignon Blanc
- Appellation: Sonoma County
- Harvest: October 4, 2010
- Fermentation: Stainless steel fermented at an average of 52˚F for about 30 days
- Barrel Aging:
- Alcohol: 13.5%
- Total Acidity: 0.64g/200mL
- pH: 3.36
- Residual Sugar: Dry
- Aging Potential: 3 – 5 years
- Case Production: ~30,000 cases