Although the Semillon grapes’ origin is in France, the grape found its way to Australia, Chile, Argentina, and South Africa in the 19th century. It was even thought to be one of the most planted grapes all over the world at that time. Today, Semillon wine is significant in only two of these wine-producing countries anymore: France and Australia. In France, the white Semillon wine is mainly grown in the Bordeaux wine regions. Since its arrival in Australia, Semillon is cultivated in particular in the Hunter Valley region north of Sydney.
Even though the white wine favourites Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are rather dominant in Australia, the Hunter Valley region’s winemakers don’t give in and leave their footprint in the Australian wine landscape. You might have already heard of the Hunter Valley Riesling before. This designation derives from the fact that the Semillon grape has been mistakenly labelled as Riesling in the early development of Australia’s viticulture but is actually the Semillon we sell to you in our shop.
Looking to France again, Semillon is commonly blended with Sauvignon blanc and Muscadelle in white Bordeaux. The reason for that is that Semillon provides a moderate body and depth but lacks acidity. The Sauvignon blanc then adds freshness to the wine to make it absolutely delicious. Sauternes' sweet wines are often highly-prized and have an excellent reputation. And Semillon has its fair share of this success. However, Semillon barely had the success as a single varietal wine in Europe as it has here in Australia.
Semillon played a big part in Australian Wine history and absolutely deserves your attention. So next time, when you want to purchase a bottle of white wine on our BoozeBud website, pick up a Semillon instead of your everyday Chardonnay or Sauvignon blanc.
You can further choose wine lover favourites from our selection of red, white, rosé, and sparkling wines and browse by region.
What is Semillon wine?
Semillon wine is made of the golden-skinned Semillon grape that leads to dry and sweet wines. As mentioned earlier, Semillon wine is mainly produced in the Hunter Valley area, and four different Semillon-based wines have emerged over time.
First is a commercial-style wine that is blended with Chardonnay or Sauvignon blanc. The second is a sweet variant that leans towards Sauternes, a French sweet wine and is produced in the Sauternais region around Bordeaux. The hunter-style is a complex, minerally variant that is handpicked relatively early to ensure low sugar levels and that has great longevity. Ultimately, it is possible to craft a high-quality dry style bottle-aged Semillon wine. The latter two variants are very unique to Australia.
The Semillon grapes are very easy to cultivate and are relatively resistant to diseases. The only disease they face is the rot. Semillon grapes ripen early and develop a slight pinkish hue when grown in warmer regions. It is even possible for the Semillon grape to get a sunburn in hot climate conditions because of its very thin skin. So sunny days and cooler nights are best when cultivating this sensitive grape.
To produce a sweet wine, Semillon grapes must be affected by Botrytis, also called the noble rot. The Botrytis is one of the very few diseases the grape can’t defend itself against but results in the most beloved outcome. The noble rot dries out the grape, which concentrates the amount of sugar and the flavours within the grape. This missing resistance is beneficial in the process of making sweet wines, and the characteristics that come with Botrytis infected Semillon are sought after by wine lovers all over the world.
How long does Semillon last?
Semillon wines are known for their aging abilities. These wines can age for a long time after purchase. Due to harvesting techniques, moderate climate conditions, and the valley’s terroir, it is possible to cellar Semillon wines for more than ten years without any problem. The flavours also change over the years and tend to offer complex flavours such as toast and honey when aged. Also, the wine’s richness and depth grow over time.
Depending on its age it is also possible for the Semillon to taste similar to Australian wine favourites Sauvignon blanc and Chardonnay. Semillon can taste more like a fresh Sauvignon blanc when consumed in the young years, or like a Chardonnay due to its aged honey flavours.
Another positive aspect to think of is the price when shopping for a wine you are going to cellar for some time. You can pick up quality Hunter Valley Semillon wines at a great price in our shop and cellar it for a few more years to create a real gem. This makes it an accessible option for your budget without overspending for a particular vintage.
What does Semillon wine taste like?
Semillon grapes are rather “heavy” but have a soft and low acidity level and offer a moderate to full body. Depending on the ripeness, the taste of Semillon also varies. Enjoyed as a young style wine, the Semillon is very crisp. The primary flavours of a young, pale-looking Semillon are lemon, apple, and pear.
When grown in warm or hot climates, your taste buds will experience flavours of sweet, tropical fruits such as mango, peach, and papaya. The alcohol levels are also slightly higher than in cooler climate regions with 12-14% alcohol by volume.
In cooler regions, winemakers sometimes pick Semillon less ripe to give it a bit more acidity and mimic the Sauvignon blanc a little bit. Results in taste are citrus flavours like lemon, lime, and grapefruit as well as flowery aromas. Semillon cultivated in colder climates has about 10-12% of alcohol by volume and produces wines with great complexity. The Hunter Valley has a very special microclimate in this regard.
Most bottle-aged Semillon wines offer a buttercup-yellow colour to the eyes and burnt toast notes or honey to the nose. On the palette, these Semillon wines exhibit complex flavours paired with a long finish.
What food goes with Semillon?
Semillon is one of the best you can choose to pair wine and food because the wine’s potential matches a lot of different foods. Semillon wines usually have a fresh flavour and a moderate to full body. Due to this characteristic, pairing and complementing Semillon naturally works best with spicy dishes. Indian and Asian spiced dishes are delicious options to pair Semillon with. If you are more interested in eating raw fish, it is also possible to pair the wine with some delicious sushi and sashimi.
Depending on your other food preferences, Semillon wine is pairable with a variety of foods. These food options include white meat such as chicken, ham, turkey, and duck as well as trout, cod, shellfish, and red snapper if you prefer fish over meat. If you like vegetables, prepare them spiced or grilled the next time you pair them. Recommended veggie options are bell peppers, zucchini, and green onions. Spices and herbs also work well with Semillon wine. Think coriander, ginger, star anise, and fennel. In addition, the classic pairing of wine and cheese is a good idea. When doing so, pick richly flavoured cheeses like gruyere and cheddar to complement the wine.
After dinner, it is time for dessert. Semillon also matches sweet desserts, in case you want to make your sweet tooth happy. Simply pair a sweet Semillon wine with a pear tart or some candied orange cheesecake and savour to the fullest.