Semillon: A French Classic Made With Australian Flair
Semillon is the major grape in the luxurious legendary sweet wines of Sauternes in Bordeaux. This gorgeous grape is also blended with Sauvignon Blanc to make white Bordeaux blend wines. These wines come in both racy dry styles and the honeyed sweet nectars that are equally sought after by white wine lovers the world over.
Semillon is one of the few white wines that is well-suited to oak ageing, along with Chardonnay, Viognier and a small handful of other varieties. In Bordeaux, the majority of Semillons see time in oak.
Along with France, the world's other top country for Semillon is Australia. Its history in Australia spans back to when vines were first brought to our nation's shores. In the modern era, the Hunter Valley has been the most famous region for Semillon for many decades, but in recent years, other regions have successfully experimented with the grape. Hunter Valley has a cool climate, which gives us well-balanced, elegant Semillons. Although there are literally hundreds of types of white wine found worldwide, most do not age well. Not so with wines made from the noble Semillon grape; dry or sweet, they are capable of ageing for decades, becoming even richer, more complex and well worth the wait!
Like most grapes, Semillon can vary slightly depending on where it's grown. Warm climate Semillon can stray into ripe papaya, mango and peach flavours. Semillon from cooler regions actually shares a lot in common with fellow Bordeaux grape Sauvignon Blanc; it's laden with pretty citrus ranging from lemon and lime to grapefruit.
Semillon is a Superb Food Wine
Whether it's bottled on its own or part of a blend, Semillon is an excellent wine to enjoy throughout the week. Its medium body makes it a lovely complement to chicken, duck, and turkey and wonderful with virtually all fish dishes, including the more tricky to pair sushi. That said, sushi lovers should definitely go for an unoaked style of Semillon. You can even enjoy a bottle of it with medium spice Indian dishes or aromatic south-east Asian fare. It's a tasty, satisfying wine that is brilliant when you're hosting a casual dinner party or simply meeting up with a few friends to share a bottle of delicious wine.
For a Semillon fan Searching for Something New
Semillon lovers will adore Albariño – it's fragrant and can have some of the same gorgeous citrus and ripe stone fruit flavours, while still having very refreshing acidity and a pleasant medium body and alcohol level. Albariño is another fabulous fish wine.
For those of you who prefer that oaked, richer style of Semillon, Chenin Blanc should be the first wine you check out. With a round body and more apple and pear flavours, Chenin Blanc bears a lot in common with aged Semillon – both are nutty, honeyed and become wonderfully complex as they age. Both wines are even made in dry and dessert versions! All the more reason to embark on a wine exploration.