Definition - What does Semillon mean?

Semillon is a white wine grape varietal known for its golden skins and the variety widely known for producing sweet French wine styles in Sauternes and dry to sweet wines in Australia. This varietal ripens early on in the season and tends to thrive in warmer rather than hotter climates, as it is prone to burning. Mature Semillon grapes produce wines that are low in acidity with a slightly oily texture, making it the chosen wine to blend with Sauvignon.

In France, Semillon is widely planted in the Graves region under the AOC of Bordeaux, and the wines are often blended with Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes. The wines are sweet, as the grapes are harvested late in the season when sugars are highly concentrated and much of the fruit is infected with botrytis cinerea (noble rot). These wines are high priced collectors' wines and can be cellared for many years, even decades.

WineFrog explains Semillon

The white grape of Semillon is often immediately associated with the white wines of Bordeaux in France. However, it is also grown in many other regions of the New World; Australia, South Africa, the United States and Chile.

In Australia, Semillon is planted in the famous region of the Hunter Valley where it was locally known as the "Hunter River Riesling". It is blended in this region with Chardonnay and/or Sauvignon Blanc. This style of wine is full-bodied with full aroma and flavor of ripe orchard fruits and significant weight on the finish. This "oily" grape is best when balanced with other varieties with characteristics that Semillon lacks, like acidity. In Australia, they also make a similar style of Semillon wine, like those in France, as a late-harvest dessert wine that is aged in oak. Tyrell is a famous winery and label of Australian Semillon. This wine style pairs well with a strong bleu cheese.

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