Drawing its roots from Bordeaux, Semillon is a golden yellow grape that plays a major role in producing some of the world’s best desert wines.
Semillon produces large berries and thin skin and is therefore susceptible to a form of rot called botrytis or noble rot. When affected, the grapes shrivel up like raisins and lose water making the juice incredibly concentrated and sweet, all while retaining vibrant acidity that contributes to the wine’s crispness.
In Bordeaux, Semillon is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc to produce dry white Bordeaux and Sauternes (the world famous botrytis affected sweet wine). Well-made Sauternes have the ability to age for over 100 years, due to the combination of racy acidity and high residual sugars.
It has put down roots in Australia’s Hunter and Barossa Valleys. In New South Wales it was once known as Hunter Valley Riesling (aged Semillon can sometimes reveal steely, ‘diesel fuel’ characteristics associated with mature Riesling). Here too, Semillon is also often blended with Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.
Gold in colour with a rich, lemony, lanolin character.
Bordeaux, France; Hunter Valley, Barossa Valley; Australia
Did you know?
- In Australia, Semillon wines were labelled Hunter Riesling, or occasionally Chablis or White Burgundy until the 1980s.
- Semillon has a great capacity to age - some examples can be cellared for up to 20 years.