Sémillon is a relatively easy to grow white wine grape variety, most commonly grown in the Bordeaux and Gascony regions of France and Hunter Valley area of Australia. Smaller plantings can be found in South Africa, Chile, California, Argentina and New Zealand. A century or more ago, Sémillon was one of the most planted grape varieties in the world although this is no longer the case today.
Sémillon has a fairly high yield, ripens early and is generally resistant to most diseases with the exception of rot, which makes it an excellent grape for making Sauternes style wine in humid climates. The fruit or juice can be described as fairly heavy almost oily with a low acidity.
In most dry white wine uses, it is frequently blended with a more youthful acidic and fruity variety such as Sauvignon Blanc. With maturation, it can turn a beautiful golden colour and develop extraordinary complexity.
Sémillon stars as the major variety in producing dessert or Sauternes style wines from the Bordeaux region as its susceptibility to “noble rot” or Botyritis cinerea allows the grapes to intensify in flavor, acidity and sugar as they shrivel on the vine prior to picking. Sweeter dessert wines from the Sauternes, Barsac, Cadillac, Loupiac or Sainte-Croix-du-Mont areas of Bordeaux are made in this way.