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Renaissance time for the forgotten 'green grape'

by: Cathy Marston | 09 Nov 2009
Semillon vineyards at Steenberg

Origins and history:- Most important white grape in Bordeaux and capable of making a wide range of styles and tastes. Often blended with Sauvignon to great success and the Australians also frequently combine it with Chardonnay as well. Makes some of the world’s most expensive and long-lived sweet wines – Sauternes. Widely-planted all over the world, it used to be known as ‘groen’ grape in SA and considered unexciting, but with the interest in Sauvignon increasing, so plantings of Semillon are on the up as well. The Australians have made a big thing of a distinctive, richly full-bodied style of Semillon in the Hunter Valley

Characteristics – Strongly herbaceous aromas when young, tending to turn into beeswax and honey as it ages. When wooded, many people struggle to tell it apart from Chardonnay (honeyed yellow fruit and butterscotch) – best thing to look out for is the herbaceous, green edge which never really goes away.

Famous wines:- Château Yquem (Sauternes, France), De Bortoli (Australia)

Good Local examples:- Steenberg, Constantia Uitsig, Nitida, Boekenhoutskloof

If it was a person: – Angelina Jolie


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