Wine Grape Varieties: Semillon

The small, round, green, thick-skinned Semillon grape is one of the major grape varieties of Bordeaux, used to produce dry and sweet white wines.

Whilst used in Australia to make these wine styles, some of Australia’s most unique wine styles come from the Hunter Valley.

Recognised as a classic Australian wine style, Semillons initially tend to be subdued but develop with bottle age to become full-flavoured, toasty, honeyed wines.

Unwooded, wooded or blended styles can be derived from Semillon. Unwooded, medium-bodied styles tend to come from the cooler regions and display fresh herbaceous and grassy varietal characters on the nose and palate, balanced by crisp acidity.

In contrast, the wooded styles tend to be medium to full bodied, with those from warmer climates displaying grassy, lemon and tropical fruit characteristics. Barrel fermentation, time on lees and malo-lactic fermentation add further complexity to these wines, which contribute creamy, buttery, nutty tones to their aroma and flavour. When blended, the varieties most commonly used are Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.

Hunter Valley Semillons uniqueness derives from the practice of bottle ageing. Picked at low sugar levels (10-11* Baume), the grapes are crushed and clear juice is then fermented cool.

Clarified, filtered and bottled, these Hunter Valley Semillons do not undergo malo-lactic fermentation and are not stored in oak. Rather they are aged in the bottle for six years or longer prior to release. Continuing to age in the bottle, some Hunter Valley Semillons age well for twenty or more years.

Low alcohol (approximately 11% alc/vol) and complex flavours are the trademark of this wine style.

Aromas (by nose) and flavours (by mouth)

Primary fruit characters include - lantana, herbaceous, pea-pod, green bean, grassy, flinty, straw, gooseberry, apple, quince, lemon, lime, citrus, fig, passionfruit and tropical fruit.

Developed fruit characters include - toast, butterscotch, fig and honey.

Characters derived from winemaking include:

Barrel fermentation / time on lees – yeast, vegemite, creamy, bonox, marmite, cheese, bread, toast, lanolin and leesy.

Malolactic fermentation - creamy, buttery, butterscotch, yogurt, bacon and caramel.

Barrel storage - vanilla, toasty, sawdust, cedar, olives, spicy, bacon, lanolin, coconut, pencil shavings, dusty, cashews, smoky, burnt, caramel, raisin and charred.

The Influence of Winemaking

The complexity and texture of flavours and tastes will vary depending on the region in which the wine is produced (Hunter Valley bottle ageing) and the winemaking techniques used such as barrel fermentation, lees contact and/or oak barrel storage.

Learn more about the varieties of grapes that make great wine visit Wyndham Estate.

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