Semillon is a white wine grape varietal with a long history linked to France - where it is used to make both dry and renowned sweet white wines. The exact origins of Semillon are still being determine, though it has a strong connection the south-west France. It was once thought to be the most planted grape in the world, although this is no longer the case.
Semillon, which is relatively easy to cultivate, and is a vigorous producer of grapes. It is fairly resistant to disease, though extremely susceptible to Botrytis (also known as noble rot). The grape ripens early, when in warmer climates it acquires a pinkish hue to the skin. Since the grape has a thin skin, there is also a risk of sunburn in hotter climates; though it is best suited to areas with warm days and cool nights.

 

The Semillon grape when ripe has low acidity and a rich texture - wines produced tend to age for a long time. Along with Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle, Semillon is one of the 3 white grape varietals allowed in the Bordeaux wine region. When dry, it is referred to as Bordeaux Blanc and is permitted to be made in the AOP of Pessac-Leognan, Graves, Entre-deux-mers and other regions. However, when used to make the sweet white wines of Bordeaux (i.e. Sauternes and Barsac) it is often the dominant varietal, and this is where Semillon's strengths come to the fore.
Due to the declining popularity of the varietal in other areas, fewer clones are cultivated - causing producers to project a future shortage of quality wine. Back in 2008 - 17 Bordeaux wine producers, including Chateau d'Yquem, Ch. Olivier, Ch. Suduiraut and Ch. La Tour Blanche, formed an association to grow their own clones.
Semillon's spiritual home is in the south-west of France - particularly Bordeaux, where it is the most widely planted white varietal. Outside France, the Hunter Valley of Australia is Semillon's adopted home, and here it makes possibly Australia's most interesting white wines. The best examples can carry on evolving for decades. Semillon / Sauvignon blends are common in Western Australia, where the two grapes synergise to make some stunning wines. Plus one can not forget - De Bortoli's 'Noble One' Botrytis Semillon - enjoy.