One of the things people are saying about Napa Valley’s 2010 harvest is that it was a “summer without summer”. Although it was great for us tourists (nice and cool), the red winemakers were quietly having fits. But in the white wine department, it was an opportunity not to pass up.
Because the grapes took so long to ripen, a factor known as “hangtime” took center stage, and for Mondavi’s Fumé Blanc (actually uses the Sauvignon Blanc grape), it was a blessing. Those grapes just hung there, until really late in the summer, and kept adding more and more flavor.
Please know that we’re not talking red wines here. They had a whole other set of problems as the final fall cool set in. But for the white wine grapes, a late harvest really worked in their favor, adding some characteristics that may not be repeated again for awhile.
What did it do? As far as Mondavi’s Fumé Blanc is concerned, 2010 added highlights in some unexpected places. For one, the standard grapefruit scents often found in Sauvignon Blanc bouquets seems to have tilted more toward oranges and tangerines.
But the biggest change was in the finish. It starts off as a well-rounded mouthful of acidity, but when paired with any seafood that has even a little pepper in the recipe, it amplifies it, creating a really long spicy finish. It’s unexpected, however totally enjoyable.
As for what 2010 did to other locales and brands, it will be a taste expanding tour, for sure. Let’s get the tasting bar stocked up because if this “once in several decades weather pattern” vintage lives up to all the talk, there may a few gems out there defying description.
Find Mondavi’s 2010 Fumé Blanc at Phoenix area Total Wine stores (and many other places) for under $15. If you can only find 2009’s, pick one up as a taste comparison candidate and wait a month; the 2010’s will be there very soon. If you get a chance to taste a 2009 and 2010 side-by-side, enjoy the differences.
To be sure, this may be a situation where “Special things happen one at a time.”
As with many Sauvignon Blanc wines, they should really be consumed with things like light fish (as you would applying a dash of lemon), Fettuccini Alfredo (to cut through the rich sauce), or shrimp (adding just a little tang). They’re not good solo acts. Serve from the fridge nicely chilled (50-55 degrees).