Another week, another wine! Today, we’re going to be looking at the third largest grape crop in France: Sémillon. This golden grape is used in the production of dry and sweet white wines. It’s also a crucial element in White Bordeaux blends and is the main ingredient in Sauternes dessert wines.
While it’s primarily known as a grape of France, where over 28,000 acres are dedicated to it, Sémillon is grown throughout the world. Australia is the second largest producer of Sémillon, where the grape accounts for over 15,000 acres. The grape is also grown in South Africa, Argentina, the United States, and Chile—but on a far smaller scale.
Both well regarded and surprisingly affordable, Sémillon wine is an excellent option for those seeking a tasty, high-quality white wine that won’t break the bank.
Depending on the ripeness of the Sémillon grapes, the resulting wine can be either creamy and fruity or dry and acidic.
In warmer climates, the Sémillon grapes are already quite ripe when harvested. This results in a wine with strong notes of fruit such as mango, peaches, papaya, and pears. These wines tend to have a fairly waxy and creamy texture that some may find off-putting. Warm-clime Sémillon wines are often aged to enhance the creamy qualities.
Less ripe grapes like those harvested in colder climates tend to result in Sémillon wines that are more acidic and zesty. These wines have strong citrus notes with flavors of lemon, lime, grapefruit, and green apple coming through the strongest. This wines also tend to have a more pronounced floral aroma than those derived from riper grapes.
While the acidity is more pronounced in the less ripe bottles, most Sémillon wines tend to have a medium acidity, as well as a medium body.
Thanks to its zesty taste, Sémillon is best suited to spicy dishes like Indian curries and hot Asian food. Like most white wines, Sémillon is best enjoyed when paired with white meat and fish. Try pairing the wine with some chicken, pork, or duck. The wine is also often paired with sushi.
Roasted vegetables and Sémillon go together like, well like roasted vegetables and Sémillon! In fact, any hearty vegetable will pair well with this wine. Try pairing Sémillon with butternut squash, corn, carrots, peppers, potatoes, and sweet potatoes. The wine also goes well with zesty salads, especially if they are coated in citrusy dressings.
Nutty cheeses tend to complement Sémillon nicely. I recommend it with Cheddar, Gruyere, and Emmental.
Wines to try
Sémillon is fairly ubiquitous and bottles can be purchased at a number of price points.
Chateau Coutet, France ($38)
A lovely, lively bottle. This wine has heavy notes of peach and tropical fruits as well as a puckering acidity.
Tyrrell’s Single Vineyard ‘Stevens’ Reserve Semillon, Australia ($22)
Balanced with a good amount of acidity and pleasing citrus notes.
Boekenhoutskloof Semillon, South Africa ($33)
A pleasing combination of fruity and floral flavors that are matched by good acidity.