Fumé Blanc & Sauvignon Blanc – the same thing or not?

Fumé Blanc & Sauvignon Blanc – the same thing or not?

Technically, yes… and no… well it depends…

So, first things first, yes, both wines are made from the same grape variety – Sauvignon Blanc. The term ‘Fumé Blanc’ was actually invented by the American winemaker, Robert Mondavi in 1960s, who wanted to rebrand the not so popular among Americans Sauvignon Blanc (at that time, Americans only were familiar with a sweet wines made from this grape, and considered it a boring variety). So he took a French word ‘Fumé’, which literally means ‘smoke’, hinting on its smoke-like flavour from oak aging and a French word for white wine, ‘Blanc’, and came up with ‘Fumé Blanc’ as we know it now! Genius and simple, as all the genius inventions are, isn’t it?

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FAQ about Fumé Blanc:

  1. Is Fumé Blanc always aged in oak?
  • The inventor, Robert Mondavi, did age it on oak in order to differentiate his Sauvignon Blanc from those from other wine nations. However, nowadays, many Californian wineries in Somona and other region are producing Fumé Blanc without any use of oak.
  1. Does the term Fumé Blanc refer solely to Sauvignon Blanc from Robert Mondavi winery?
  • No, he did not trademark it, any winery is free to use it.
  1. Can Fumé Blanc be found only in California?
  • Taking into account the origins, it is more commonly associated with the dry-fermented oak-aged Sauvignon Blanc from the US. Nevertheless, one can find Fumé Blanc in basically all the other countries that grow Sauvignon Blanc (Canada, BC; Australia; New Zealand and even Turkey), except of course for France, where some say that their type of Fumé Blanc is called Sauvignon Blanc from the Pouilly-Fumé appellation. The term ‘Fumé’, in this case, refers to the grey bloom that the grapes are coated with and the smoky bouquet bestowed by the terroir vineyards… but that’s for another post.


Did you enjoy my little story about Fumé Blanc? Don’t you just want to run to the liquor store now and try it out? Well, if you do – do let me know what you think of it in comments below.

Check out my recipes HERE to find a best pairing for your Fumé Blanc.


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