What does Semillon taste like? Semillon wine used to be part of the classic Bordeaux Blanc blend, but now it is favoured in French wine making regions as a dessert wine because of Semillon Botrytis. But what about Hunter Valley Semillon from Australia? In this video WineScribble offer her fast five facts about Semillon Blanc, and how some friends could be persuaded to try Semillon instead of Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.
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Hey Tasters! My friends Pavlos and Mary agree on everything except white wine. Mary will have nothing but Chardonnay. Pavlos only drinks Sauvignon Blanc. How could these two ever find middle ground?
There is one possibility, Semillon. So here are my fast five facts about Semillon.
What does Semillon taste like?
Wine fact number one
Semillon is a white grape variety that originates in Bordeaux, France. It is the third most planted white grape variety in France after Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. But, here’s the thing its total acreage is rapidly diminishing. This is because previously Semillon was used as part of the white Bordeaux blend.
Its purpose was to soften down the savage Sauvignon Blanc grape. Unfortunately as winemaking becomes more advanced, and winemakers are able to control conditions more effectively, the need to use Semillon for these purpose is also diminishing.
Semillon grape fact two
There are two possible explanations for the name Semillon. One sounds perfectly plausible but is wrong. The correct one needs careful wording if it’s to be repeated within earshot of what used to be termed polite company.
It’s reasonable to assume that Semillon takes its name from the town of St. Emilion where it originates. However, that’s not the case Semillon takes its name from the Latin word semen, to plant seeds. Semillon is etymologically related to the modern English word semen.
Fact 3 – what does Semillon taste like?
So, what does Semillon taste like? No. Semillon tastes fruity. You can detect lots of citrus fruits such as lime and lemon and grapefruit. Garden fruits such as apples and pears. Exotic fruits such as mango and papaya. And other aromas may include honey and ginger and pie crust and butter.
How could this be? Well, what your bottle of Semillon tastes like depends on three different factors. Number one, is it a cool climate Semillon or a warm climate Semillon? Two, where the grapes harvested early or late? Number three, how young is the bottle you have? All these factors will determine whether your Semillon will have the refreshing crisp acidity of Sauvignon Blanc or the creamy buttery richness of a Chardonnay.
Semillon wine fact four
The second most notable Semillon growing region is Hunter Valley in Australia, where Semillon for years was known as Hunter Valley Riesling, because it had been mistaken for a Riesling. Unlike the white Bordeaux blend, Hunter Valley Semillon is a mono varietal wine. It starts life evoking mown grass and citrus but undergoes a metamorphosis in the bottle and emerges years later with oaky waxy rich flavours, even though he has spent no time in wood.
Fact about Semillon five
When I said that Semillon is only used as part of a blend in France that was not strictly true. When it comes to dessert wine Semillon takes centre stage specifically in Sauternes.
Sauternes is a rich dessert wine that evokes aromas of honey, apricots, and peaches. And, it ages very very well. In fact, a good Sauternes will outlive most human beings.
So could Semillon help Pavlos and Mary find some common ground when it comes to white wine? Sort of, but they’d still have to buy two different bottles.
Comment below and let me know if you enjoyed these fast five facts about Semillon. Cheers everybody! Have you subscribed yet? Go on, what could possibly go wrong?
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Resources for Semillon Blanc
- Wine Spectator on Semillon
- WineFolly review of Semillon
- Jancis Robinson guide to Semillon
- Yet more info about Semillon
Resources for Hunter Valley Semillon
- Wine Australia page for Semillon
- Hunter Valley Online: Semillon
- Food & Wine: Hunter Valley Semillon
- Decanter on Semillon varieties
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