Semillion Guide


Semillon is a relatively unfamiliar variety despite belonging to the noble grapes circle. It is the basis of the excellent Sauternes sweet wines and the classic dry wines from Australia's Hunter Valley.

Semillon's vigorous vines are easily cultivated, which explains its expansion to a high number of wine regions. With its late flowering and early ripening, the grape can resist to the possible spring frost. However, to obtain high quality wines, the vines need to be constantly trim to produce low yields and the vinification process has to be handle with great care. Thanks to its thin skin, Semillon is sensible to the noble rot, botrytis, which can develop under foggy conditions like in Sauternes.

Semillion caracteristics

The variety gives a wide array of styles, from dry white wines to the sweet ones. Its classic aromas are honey, toast bread and orange marmalade. The wines have a distinctive golden color and a creamy texture.

In Bordeaux, Semillon is often blend with Sauvignon Blanc because its sweet concentrated flavors balanced the crisp acidity of the Sauvignon. The Sauternes wines use botrytised berries to reach a strong honeyed character.

Semillon is overall fermented and matured in barrels of young oak for the production of dry wines. However, Australian producers have chosen inox barrels for their vinification process.

The young light wines have fresh lively citrus flavors. When they age well, the Semillon wines can develop complex toasted notes.

Where to find the best Semillion wines

Semillon is often found in Bordeaux where it is the dominant grape in Sauternes sweet wines like the legendary Château d'Yquem's, wildly known for the exceptional long lifespan of its production.

In Australia, Semillon is the speciality of the Hunter Valley where it produces excellent dry white wines with an elegant bouquet.

Henschke's Louis Semillon and Tyrrell's VAT 1 Semillon are among the best Australian white wines of Semillon.