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Pouilly-Fume Wine

Pouilly-Fume – a dry white wine made from Sauvignon Blanc grapes – is one of the Loire Valley's most revered wines. It is rivaled in this regard only by Sancerre, just the other side of the Loire River, and perhaps Vouvray. The Pouilly-Fume appellation title is composed of two parts: 'Pouilly' is the village the wines come from (Pouilly-sur-Loire) and 'Fume' is the grape variety they're made from (Blanc Fumé is the local name for Sauvignon Blanc). As if this weren't sufficiently confusing, the appellation title is very similar indeed to that of Pouilly-Fuisse (a Chardonnay-based wine from southern Burgundy).

The official Pouilly-Fume viticultural area encompasses seven parishes on the right bank of the Loire – from Mesves-sur-Loire in the south to Saint-Martin-sur-Nohain, seven miles (11km) to the north. These villages are technically in Burgundy, although Pouilly-Fume remains a quintessentially 'Loire Valley' wine. The appellation title was granted in 1937, at the same time as Pouilly-sur-Loire – a lesser-known appellation used for the village's Chasselas wines. At that time it was titled Blanc Fumé de Pouilly.

Sauvignon Blanc and flint, Pouilly-sur-Loire
Chateau de Tracy

The fumé in Blanc Fumé is French for 'smoky'. It denotes the struck gunflint aroma that characterizes 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-Fume's winemakers, and a source of great local pride (the most famous of all Pouilly-Fume wines is named Silex, a traditional synonym for flint). The aroma is thought by some to come from the flint that litters the local vineyards, but this remains unproven.

Until phylloxera wiped out vast tracts of vines in the 1860s, the vineyards of Pouilly-sur-Loire grew mostly Gamay and Pinot Noir. When the solution to the phylloxera epidemic was identified – grafting European vines onto American rootstocks – Sauvignon Blanc proved to be more responsive than the red varieties. Thus, Sauvignon came to be the most widely planted variety in Pouilly and soon became known as Blanc Fumé because of the smoky aromas it displayed when grown in local soils.

Aromatically speaking, Pouilly-Fume wines are some of France's most vivacious, although they are typically less pungent than many New World styles of Sauvignon Blanc (particularly those from Marlborough). They are characterized by a vibrant streak of fruit (citrus, green apples and gooseberries) supported by their obvious mineral aromas of wet wool, slate and the trademark smoky flint. This all works in harmony with the wines' high acidity.

In the 1980s, some producers began introducing an element of oak into their Pouilly-Fume wines, either via barrel fermentation or barrel maturation, or both. This was generally well received, as it made the wines not only more complex but also better prepared for mid-term cellaring. Most modern Pouilly-Fume will improve in bottle for between three and six years (about twice as long as the average Sancerre).

The 1970s and 1980s saw Pouilly-Fume's popularity increase greatly, along with the vineyard area devoted to Sauvignon Blanc vines (at the cost of the Chasselas used for the village's less-popular Pouilly-sur-Loire wines). There were nearly 2840 acres (1150ha) of vines producing Pouilly-Fume in 2005, vastly more than the 105 acres (43ha) planted with Chasselas – a demonstration of the immense success that Sauvignon Blanc has achieved here.

In true French style, the local terroir is given the credit for Pouilly-Fume's very particular aroma and flavor. It has been intricately studied and mapped. The key soil types are divided into limestone, marlstone, clays of various compositions and the all-important flint. Limestone and flint are the most important. Both have excellent heat-retention and light-reflecting properties and help the vines to achieve optimal ripeness in the cool growing season here.

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We found 267 wines produced in this region.
Wine Name
Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume Silex, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $123 416
Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume Pur Sang, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $98 1649
Baron de Ladoucette Chateau du Nozet Pouilly-Fume, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $33 2039
Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume Asteroide, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $833 2156
Didier Dagueneau Blanc Fume de Pouilly, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $66 2411
Baron de Ladoucette Pouilly-Fume 'Baron de L', Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $75 4115
Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fume Buisson-Renard, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $91 5568
Chateau de Tracy Pouilly-Fume, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $28 9974
Pascal Jolivet Pouilly-Fume, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $25 10523
Jean-Claude Dagueneau Domaine des Berthiers Pouilly-Fume, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $21 12373
Jean Pabiot et Fils Pouilly-Fume Domaine des Fines Caillottes, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $20 12920
Domaine Chatelain Pouilly-Fume, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $21 15097
Henri Bourgeois Pouilly-Fume, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $23 17189
Domaine A. Cailbourdin Pouilly-Fume Les Cris, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $23 17982
Domaine Herve Seguin Pouilly-Fume, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $20 18062
Henri Bourgeois Pouilly-Fume La Demoiselle de Bourgeois, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $33 18594
Michel Redde et Fils Pouilly-Fume La Moynerie, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $25 18991
Gilles Maudry Domaine de Maltaverne Pouilly-Fume, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $18 20070
Domaine Masson-Blondelet Pouilly-Fume, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $21 20107
Domaine Serge Dagueneau et Filles Pouilly-Fume Tradition, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $23 20207
Pascal Jolivet Pouilly-Fume Indigene, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $48 20351
Didier et Jonathan Pabiot Pouilly-Fume, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $21 21579
Domaine Regis Minet Pouilly-Fume Vieilles Vignes, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $21 22369
Domaine Chatelain Pouilly-Fume Les Chailloux Silex, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $20 22570
Caves des Perrieres Pouilly-Fume, Loire, France Sauvignon Blanc $16 23775
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