The Sémillon grape is rather heavy, with low acidity and an almost oily texture. It has a high yield and wines based on it can age a long time. Along with Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle, Sémillon is one of only three approved white wine varieties in the Bordeaux region. The grape is also key to the production of sweet wines such as Sauternes.
Known for being a fairly low-maintenance grape to cultivate with the ability to thrive in a wide variety of soils, the thin skins of the Semillon grape make it susceptible to botrytis (a good thing) and sunburn. Care must be taken to manage the canopy for maximum fruit protection in the warmer growing regions. The medium-sized berries take on a golden, yellow hue at maturity.
Sémillon contributes a deep golden color to a wine, even more so if the grapes have been botrytised. With an aromatic profile that ranges from subtle fruit to floral and some spice to a bit of earthy and herbal, this particular grape does not dominate the nose, but supports the blending process with its ability to offer the rich fruit character of honeyed apricots, quince, candied peach and creamy vanilla tones. In fact, its ability to pick up and spotlight the impressionable oak influences are another draw for blending with this grape. There is an overall elegance and concentration, an unctuous quality that botrytised Sémillon offers to the wine in the form of heavier textures, intense fruit and high viscosity. With its lower levels of acidity, almost oily textures, more subtle aromatics and rounder profile, it is the perfect complement to the leaner lines, zesty profile and fresh acidity of Sauvignon Blanc. Sémillon also enjoys a reputation for aging well over the long haul.