Australian Semillon wine regional and flavour profile
WHITE | MEDIUM BODY
Semillon tastes and aromas
Flavours and aromas of grass, cut hay, straw, lime, vanilla, lanolin, apple, date, fig, lemon and pear
Low acidity, almost oily textures and rich, round profile. Low in alcohol (typically between 10-15%), almost no exposure to oak
Semillon cellaring potential
Young Semillons have flavours of grass, cut hay, straw, lime juice, vanilla and lanolin, and most should be consumed within five years of bottling unless otherwise recommended. With a bit of age Semillon can take on the rich, full flavours of candied fruit, apricot, peach, honey, and pineapple, with a buttery-cream like texture. To age Semillon, look for Semillon from the Hunter Valley.
Facts about Semillon
- Semillon was once considered the most planted grape in the world, however this is no longer the case.
- Semillon grapes are most remarkable for acquiring the “noble” rot Botrytis cinerea, partly due to their thin-skinned, tightly bunched characteristics. Rather than causing destruction in the ripened stage, this disease contributes to a concentration of sweetness that has become very popular and respected.
- Semillon ripens early on the vine when in warmer climates, and acquires a pinkish hue. Since the grape has a thin skin, there is also a risk of sunburn in hotter climates; it is best suited to areas with sunny days and cool nights.
- Despite its delicate fruity flavours, Semillon is not often created as a single varietal wine, and is most often used in blends with Sauvignon Blanc.
Australian regions that produce Semillon
The Hunter’s signature grape, Semillon, is world famous and renowned for its capacity to age. When young and fresh, classic Hunter Semillon is subdued, with fine, piercing acidity and lemon flavour, however in age it evolves to become richer and fuller, developing complex toasty, nutty and honeyed characters that suggest the wine has been matured in oak.
Semillon is the Barossa Valley’s most important white grape. Barossa Semillon is typically richer, riper and fuller than Hunter examples, and typically shows cut straw and lemon characters. Sometimes they are matured in oak, although the frequency of this is declining.
Early picked Semillon makes dry table wines that offer upfront citrus and tropical fruit flavours. The Riverina’s still, misty conditions favour noble rot, and botrytis influenced Semillon is picked in late autumn to produce dessert wines with complex honey and marmalade characters.
The cool nights and long warm days of this region create great ripening conditions for Semillon. These wines tend to be open, fleshy and laden with lemon citrus characters.
Western Australian Semillon is distinctly herbal, or grassy, which is a character that you either love or hate. Western Australian Semillon blended with Sauvignon Blanc makes some of Australia’s most popular dry white wines.
The Clare produces a mix of wooded and unwooded styles; both are typically crisp, lemony and zesty with spicy nuances, and can be delightfully perfumed, with delicate floral and pineapple aromas.
What food to pair with Semillon
The dominant aromas in dry Semillon of honey, lemon and lime juice make it a perfect match with simpler, less complex flavours seafood and light, fresh salad based meals. Uncomplicated foods such as seafood salads, prawns, oysters and simply prepared white-fleshed fish work magically with the clean, lemon and lime flavours and grapefruit-like zest of youthful Semillon. Think of anything you might squeeze lemon or lime juice over, and you won’t go far wrong.
Older Semillon becomes rich, buttery and smooth and with its many layers of flavour, it works wonderfully with a great array of foods. As the wine is more complex and rich, so the food can be. Aged Semillon is great with creamy Indian dishes, such as kormas, or asparagus dishes with creamy, hollandaise sauce.
The sweet Semillon and botrytis varieties are a standout with desserts and fruit platters.