Fume Blanc, 1981. Cilurzo

by Paul Kalemkiarian Sr | August 1982

Vincenzo Cilurzo has come a long way in 4 years. In 1978, he crushed grapes to make 2,000 gallons, and in 1981 he crushed 20,000 gallons! Now that’s a lot of grapes for a man and wife operation, with Chenin(13) and Vinnie(11) pitching in. They live in Temecula, where their winery is located. Their home is surrounded by 52 acres of vineyards. This wine region in California has come into its own, and is proving itself as a premium wine grape area.

Vince is winemaker, vineyard caretaker, owner, and any other titles you can conjure up at the ranch. Audrey can carry all those titles too. For example, it was her and Chenin and Vinnie that delivered your wine to our warehouse. In true life though, Vince is Emmy award winning lighting director at ABC TV working on the Merv Show and other celebrity shows. He commutes to Hollywood for his tours of duty! In February 1981 he told me “White wine is fine – Red wine is Divine” and so it was with his Gamay Beaujolais 1980, which I immediately selected for our May 1981 feature. It was great! Now he has made a white wine that is more than just “fine”, and I will say that any white wine enthusiasts will reverse that statement once they taste this creation.

The name Fumé Blanc on a wine label in California indicates that it is made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape. It is a choice of the winemaker what name he wishes to use. Some say it is a matter of whether the wine is Bordeaux or Loire style (the two areas in France where Sauvignon Blanc is the white wine grape). I do not find this to hold true, and feel it is an unnecessary correlation. Traditionally this grape produces a somewhat harsh, bare knuckles type wine when made in the dry style. It is also made as a sweet dessert wine with botrytis, and the French examples from Sauterne are legend. The skill comes in the making of a smooth and balanced wine in the dry style. Vince has achieved this.

The wine is golden straw in color. It has a deep aromatic fragrance that is reminiscent of cedar (due to the oak ageing) along with the varietal character of the grape. The nose has a persistency. The taste is dry, yet mellow, full bodied, with bold Sauvignon varietal flavor and some herhaceousness. A lingering and long finish. The oak adds a dimension to the taste. Serve chilled with poultry or seafood.

Cellaring Notes: Will mellow further and develop deep complexities for 3 to 4 years.

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