on area grown --Australia - full-bodied but crisp, dry,
and definitely age-worthy.
Seafood, fish, clams, mussels --sweet wines pair with
Australia, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand,
of the Semillon grape is hard to determine. It is known that
it first arrived in Australia in the early 19th century and
by the 1820s the grape covered over 90 percent of South Africa's
vineyards, where it was known as Wyndruif, meaning
"wine grape". It
was once considered to be the most planted grape in the world,
although this is no longer the case. In the 1950s, Chile's
vineyards were made up of over 75% Semillon. Today, it accounts
for just 1% of South African Cape vines.
which is relatively easy to cultivate, consistently produces
six to eight tons of grapes per acre from its vigorous vines.
It is fairly resistant to disease, except for rot. The grape
ripens early, when, in warmer climates, it acquires a pinkish
hue. Since the grape has a
thin skin, there is also a risk of sunburn in hotter climates;
it is best suited to areas with sunny days and cool nights.
grape is rather heavy, with low acidity and an almost oily
texture. It has a high yield and wines based on it can age
a long time. Along with Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle, Semillon
is one of only three approved white wine varieties in the
Bordeaux region. The grape is also key to the production of
sweet wines such as Sauternes.
is the major white grape in the Bordeaux wine regions and
Co´tes de Gascogne. Whereas today Australia's major white
varieties are Chardonnay and
Sauvignon blanc, early in
the country's viticultural development it was Semillon, then
mislabeled as Riesling.
the Semillon grape is grown mostly in Bordeaux where it is
blended with Sauvignon blanc and Muscadelle. When dry, it
is referred to as Bordeaux blanc and is permitted to
be made in the appellations of Pessac-LÃ©ognan, Graves, Entre-deux-mers
and other less-renowned regions. In this form, SÃ©millon is
generally a minor constituent in the blend. However, when
used to make the sweet white wines of Bordeaux (such as those
from Sauternes, Barsac and CÃ©rons) it is often the dominant
In such wines the vine is exposed to the "noble rot" of Botrytis
cinerea which consumes the water content of the fruit,
concentrating the sugar present in its pulp. When attacked
by Botrytis cinerea, the grapes shrivel and the acid and sugar
levels are intensified.
the declining popularity of the grape variety, fewer clones
are cultivated in nurseries causing producers to project a
future shortage of quality wine. In 2008 17 Bordeaux wine
producers, including Chateau d'Yquem, Chateau Olivier, Chateau
Suduiraut and Chateau La Tour Blanche, formed an association
to grow their own clones.
is widely grown in Australia, particularly in the Hunter Valley
north of Sydney, where for a long time it was known as "Hunter
River Riesling". Four styles of Semillon-based wines made there:
a commercial style, often blended with Chardonnay or Sauvignon
Blanc; a sweet style, after that of Sauternes; a complex, minerally,
early picked style which has great longevity; and an equally
high quality,dry style, which can be released soon after vintage,
as a vat or bottle aged example. Hunter Valley SÃ©millon is
never matured in oak. The latter two styles were pioneered by
Lindemans, Tulloch, McWilliam's Elizabeth, Drayton's and Tyrrell's,
and are considered unique to Australia. Most examples of these
bottle-aged Hunter Semillons exhibit a buttercup-yellow colour,
burnt toast or honey characteristics on the nose and excellent
complex flavours on the palate, with a long finish and soft
acid. Young Hunter Valley semillon is almost always a dry wine,
usually exhibiting citrus flavours of lemon, lime or green apple.
Cooler year Hunter Semillons seem to be the most highly sought
after, with some of the 1974 and 1977 vintages still drinking
well. The newer, fruit accentuated styles are championed by
the likes of Iain Riggs at Brokenwood and The Rothbury Estate.
Semillon is also finding favour with Australian producers outside
of the Hunter Valley in the Barossa Valley and Margaret River
regions. The Adelaide Hills is becoming a flourishing region
for Semillon with the cooler climate producing some wines of
great complexity. Vineyards such as Amadio and Paracombe producing
some premium blends of the classical style.
of these regions, however, Semillon is unpopular and often
criticised for lack of complexity and intensity. As such,
plantings have decreased over the last century. As referenced
above, the grape can still be found in South Africa and Chile.
The latter is reputed to have the largest plantings of this
although the number of acres planted with Semillon fluctuates
often. California growers plant SÃ©millon primarily to blend
it with Sauvignon blanc. There
are some wineries in the Washington State who actively produce
Semillon for Ice Wine and Late Harvest wines. The grape is
also planted in Argentina, and recently in New Zealand.
Science of Wine Aroma
the Acids in Wine
(Tannins) in Wine
The Basic Wine Pairing Rules
Science of Food and Wine
a Wine Sommelier
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