Pouilly-Fumé is a PDO/Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AC) wine region in the Central Vineyards section of France’s Loire Valley. It produces only white wines from Sauvignon Blanc. Many people confuse the region with Pouilly-Fuisse AC. Fuisse also produces white wine, but from Chardonnay and is located in Burgundy. The easiest way to keep both straight is to remember that California’s “Fume Blanc” wines are also from Sauvignon Blanc and based on Pouilly-Fumé.
Pouilly-Fumé is not a single town but a group of villages or communes on the north side of the Loire River, across from Sancerre. The climate is cool continental, meaning winters can be quite cold and summers very warm. Optimal ripening of fruit is an issue for growers.
What most distinguishes the villages of Pouilly-Fumé is the soil structure. Although not all soil is uniform, most vineyards share some degree of chalky limestone and often flinty clay. This flint character is also present in the best typical Pouilly-Fumé wines and is responsible for the “Fumé,” or smoke, part of the AC name.
What Does Pouilly-Fumé Taste Like?
The wines of Pouilly-Fumé tend to be dry with very crisp acidity. Flavors are less tropical than New World Sauvignon Blancs and range from lemon and green apple to gooseberry, grass and other herbaceous notes. The most expressive Pouilly-Fumés have the characteristic gun flint aroma and may be fermented or aged in small, usually older oak barrels. Malolactic Fermentation is used by some producers to either soften what can sometimes be searing acidity, or create a unique wine style. The majority of Pouilly-Fumé wines are for immediate drinking. However, the best examples have potential to develop in bottle.