Good morning all,
Simon’s Wine of the Week is Pouilly Fume Saget Les Logeres
You think of Sauvignon Blanc and which country comes to mind? Chances are you’ve just thought about New Zealand. If I ask you to name a French Sauvignon Blanc, then some of you might struggle. But if you are in the know then Sancerre will probably be the wine you think of. Yet, back at the end of the last century, it was Pouilly-Fume that was considered to be the world’s greatest expression of the Sauvignon Blanc grape. I distinctly remember reading The Sotheby’s Wine Guide and it telling me so. So how did it get usurped in such a short space of time?
We need to head to New Zealand to answer that. Back in the early 80’s the idea that New Zealand could make quality wine was absurd. It was a place on the other side of the world that was famous for lamb and rugby, wasn’t it? We hadn’t heard of them making wine, let alone manuka honey or The Lord of the Rings. And then a wine landed on our shores that blew our minds. What was this juice that tasted of grapefruit, passion fruit, elderflower, freshly mown grass, and tomato leaf? If you believe some people, it was called Cloudy Bay. But that wasn’t the first New Zealand Sauvignon to hit our shores, it was a lowly wine called Montana, and it changed the face of the wine world forever. Fast forward a few years and you couldn’t find a wine list without New Zealand Sauvignon on it, such was its popularity.
Whilst French Sauvignon Blanc was eclipsed for a while, it never went away. People were still drinking bucket loads of it, they just didn’t know it was Sauvignon Blanc. And it was Sancerre, not Pouilly Fume, that rose triumphant as the most popular French Sauvignon. So how did Pouilly-Fume lose its crown? Especially as Sancerre and Pouilly-Fume are incredibly similar wines whose vineyards face each other from opposite sides of the river Loire.
Firstly, there’s the small issue of pronunciation. Absurd as it may seem the fact that Sancerre is much easier to say than Pouilly-Fume has a lot to do with it. Secondly, there’s the small issue of another Pouilly wine, just to confuse things. Pouilly-Fuisse is a wine made from Chardonnay in Burgundy. They have absolutely nothing to do with each other (particularly as most Pouilly Fuisse is full-bodied, rich and oaky, the antithesis of the Fume wines) but you order the wrong one you’re in for a big shock. And finally, Sancerre tends to be a wine that is approachable when young, riper, with a less intense, but similar flavour profile to their New Zealand siblings. Pouilly Fume needs a little bit more time to develop and has more of a lean minerality to it.
But that is no reason to write off Pouilly Fume. If you love Sancerre, then you are going to love Pouilly Fume. And, because it doesn’t have the fame of Sancerre, you’re going to find it can be a little cheaper, which is always a good thing.
The Les Logeres Pouilly-Fume is from Domain Saget, one of the most respected producers in the Loire. Run by Jean-Louis and Marie-Claire Saget and their two sons Arnaud and Laurent, they make a fantastic range of wines that are all worth a try. In the glass their Pouilly Fume is a star-bright pale lemon colour, whilst the nose is elegant and refined with fresh lemon zest, grapefruit, pear and guava notes with hints of classic flintiness. The palate is crisp and dry with more of that elegant citrus fruit, lean acidity, and more minerally notes. Absolutely perfect with a freshly shucked oyster.
Have a great week all,