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Sémillon Information

Seh-muh-lun Sémillon is a white wine varietal that originates from Bordeaux. It passes under the radar for many people, but is grown all over France, and has spread to several New World regions. It’s particularly popular in Australia and South Africa and has enjoyed some success in California, where it is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc. At home in France, it is also a common partner for Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle when making white Bordeaux blends. However, there are plenty of wineries across the globe that delve into making single-varietal Sémillon, which we will focus on in this article.

Sémillon Tasting Notes

Sémillon is found in two primary styles, sweet or dry. It is most notable for its slightly oily/waxy mouthfeel, which can help distinguish it from similar white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris. It typically falls between 10-14% ABV. Sémillon is a medium-bodied wine but is considered full as far as white wines go, and is often used to add body to white blends. It often exhibits light to medium levels of acidity, and a round feeling that you can roll around your mouth. You will discover flavours of citrus fruits, such as lemon, lime and grapefruit, along with fleshy white fruits like pear, apple and peach. These are underpinned by some slightly spicy and herbal notes, such as ginger, honeysuckle, saffron and grass.

Sémillon Styles

Dry Sémillon wines usually feature fresh fruit flavours, featuring many of the notes mentioned above. If it is aged in oak (as it often is in the New World), Sémillon can also feature some notes of butter and toast. These general descriptions are worth keeping in mind, but it is also worth remembering that Sémillon can vary greatly from producer to producer. You may discover dry styles that contain more minerality than others, some will be more refined, and others will be bold and fruity. Sémillon is a thin-skinned grape, which is key for developing the Botrytis or “noble rot” that is required for dessert wines. When it comes to sweet versions of Sémillon, the region of Sauternes in France sets the standard for everybody else to follow. You’ll also find delicious sweet Sémillon wines from New World regions, but none truly match the top-tier quality of Sauternes. These wines feature some delightfully ripe flavours, including dried apricot, ginger, honey and warming baking spices.

When To Drink Sémillon

If you’ve grown tired of Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon is a brilliant wine to try out, adding some nuance and extra potential to familiar flavours. Dry versions will be wonderfully refreshing when served chilled on a warm day. Sweet Sémillon wines open up an entire world of pairing possibilities – they answer the conundrum of what to pair with blue cheese, and can also be drunk alongside a variety of creamy desserts. Sémillon, dry or sweet, is best served slightly chilled at around 50 ºF (10 ºC). There is no need to decant this wine – it is quite generous and aromatic from the beginning.

Best Years To Drink Sémillon

There is some discrepancy between styles when it comes to when you should drink a bottle of Sémillon. Drier versions can be aged, but it largely depends on the structure and quality of the wine. Top-tier examples can age for about 10-15 years. However, when it comes to sweet Sémillon wines, the sky is the limit. Exceptional vintages from Sauternes have been enjoyed 100 years after their bottling date. They have the potential to develop some fascinating characteristics, such as darker colors and notes of butterscotch and caramel.

Sémillon Average Prices

If you want a taste of Sémillon, affordable New World versions of the wine will only set you back about $5-6. As you start to get into well-rated versions from Hunter Valley in Australia or Barsac in France, you can expect to spend about $30. The best examples of dessert style Sémillon from Sauternes can really burn a hole in your pocket – they can cost anything upwards of $100, but are worth it for the experience.

Sémillon Nutrition Facts

A standard glass of dry Sémillon will contain approximately:
  • 121 calories
  • 4.6 grams of carbohydrates
  • 0.1 grams of protein

Fun Facts About Sémillon

Approximately 45,000 acres of Sémillon are planted worldwide. In the 17th century, Sémillon was widely planted in South Africa and became known as Groendruif, or “the green grape”. Sémillon is one of the three varietals approved for white wine production in Bordeaux.