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A primer on Pouilly-Fumé

Land of gently flowing rivers, fairy tale castles, and - more importantly - banging bottles of Sauvignon Blanc. We're in the centre point of France here, in the Loire valley, or more specifically what's referred to as "Central Loire", and it's probably the most recognisable area of the region. The Pouilly-Fumé appellation sits on the picturesque right bank of the Loire river, as it intersects the communes of Sancerre to the West and Pouilly to the East. Castles and bridges occasionally break up the vineyards, and locally caught pike gently grill away in the kitchens of riverside bistros.


These wines are often overlooked due to the daunting pronunciation (poo-ey foo-may) and the sheer popularity of it's sibling to across the river in Sancerre, but dip your toe in the water, and the subtler wines of the two appellations will repay you many times over. Being so far inland compared to the other parts of the Loire, we've got a pretty continental climate, meaning the maritime influence is relatively non existent - summers are crazy warm and winters are pretty Baltic, meaning grapes are ripened to phenolic (flavour) perfection once it gets warm, but the cold months retain the characteristic bracing acidity the grape is so well loved for. The real show pony of the area however, is it's soils. The best vineyards, to the north of the town of Pouilly-Sur-Loire, sit on top of what is called silex; a soil made of predominantly flint with clay, that's said to be the real maestro in giving the wines their characteristic vibrance, freshness, and some say their gunflint aroma (though there's lots of arguments as to the reality of this).



As with a lot of wines of a certain popularity, there can be a vast difference in good Pouilly and bad Pouilly, and it can be pretty difficult to work out which ones are which. Pushed in part by the meteoric rise to fame of Sancerre and Pouilly in the 90's, unfortunately many producers get away with making bad quality juice and cruising by making sales based on just the name. Luckily though, there's some absolutely unbelievable winemakers out there doing God's work in the vineyard and cellar, and we've found our favourite in Andre Dezat and his benchmark Pouilly-Fumé - a wine that we use as the white wine in our most popular Tour De France tastings.


So what does it taste like then? The wines are elegant, light to medium bodied, and have an intense and bracing grapefruit like acidity to get things going. They've got this grassy to almost asparagus like leafyness, and juicy mouthwatering gooseberry fruitiness, all underlined by the gun flint smoke that the appellation is most well known for. They're usually gentler than the sometimes brash Sancerre, more refined than Antipodean expressions of the grape, and certainly more gastronomic. Next time you're looking for that "dry, crisp white wine" (which is what 90% of people are looking for in a white let's be honest), try a decent bottle of Pouilly-Fumé and I promise you're going to get an absolutely delicious, fancy as hell tasting wine, and you'll get change from twenty quid. Happy days. You can find our favourite bottle from Andre and his son's on our bottle shop just HERE. As always, if you need a hand choosing anything, or simply have a query then feel free to reach out to us @ niall@benedictbutterworth.com or info@benedictbutterworth.com.

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