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The difference between Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé – Ask Decanter

What makes these two wines distinct from each other...?

Kate Carpenter, London, asks: Do you have any tips on how to tell Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé apart in a blind tasting?

Jim Budd, DWWA Regional Chair for the Loire, replies: The differences between these Sauvignon Blancs are nuanced and subtle.

Pouilly-Fumé tends to be a little broader, softer, slightly less vibrant and aromatic than Sancerre. It can have a smoky character, especially those from flint (silex) soils, though this can also be true of Sancerre grown on flint.

Both Pouilly-Fumé and Sancerre, especially the good ones, have grass and citric characters – typically grapefruit – rather than the classic notion of cat’s pee, which in the Loire is a sign of unripe grapes. In ripe, hot years stone-fruit characters emerge.

Both should have linear purity of flavour and can age attractively. Producers like Henri Bourgeois, Joseph Mellot and Pascal Jolivet make both Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé, so try them together and see if you can taste the differences.

This question first appeared in the February 2020 issue of Decanter magazine.

See also: What does Sancerre wine taste of – ask Decanter

 See also: Jefford: Wines of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé


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