Semillon & BLENDS
A wide variety of styles, with Australia dominating from East Coast to West. But no Golds this year

Separated off from Sauvignon Blanc for the second year running, this gave our
tasters a good chance to see what the New World is doing with Semillon. On this evidence, it’s a cautious thumbs-up.

The overwhelming majority of entries, and all the medals, were from Australia,
which suggests that Semillon remains a grape that hasn’t really attracted much
attention beyond Oz. Entries were more or less evenly split between straight Semillons and Sem/Sav (or Sav/Sem) blends and came from the Hunter Valley, Western Australia
and most points in between.

The Semillons sparked a lot of enthusiastic responses from the sommeliers in the early rounds but also much debate, with a broad range of styles on offer as well as differing levels of development in the samples, from super-young to quite serious and semi-mature.
‘With Semillon – and there are a good range of styles here – the challenge is getting
the wine on the list at the right age so that the acidity is balanced by some of the wonderful fruit that the variety begins to reveal,’ said Kyri Sotiri.

To pick up a medal, the wines needed to be nicely balanced and, crucially, drinking
well now – a factor which ruled out a number of entrants that were simply deemed
too young and tight.

‘Semillon is very much a food wine and the more refined and balanced examples
here would be excellent on the list,’ said Frédéric Billet, Marylebone Hotel. ‘At the cheaper end, you perhaps need to choose a style showing more fruit to balance the acidity and
at the higher end it is good to have some age in the wine.’

Sadly, Semillon is not quite a ‘must-list’ yet and our tasters didn’t rate anything above Silver in the final stages.

“There was a good selection of styles here and the quality was good. ” Frédéric Billet, Marylebone Hotel


Voyager Estate Sauvignon Blanc Semillon 2010, Margaret River, Western Australia
£8.28 @ Justerini & Brooks
Ripe peach aromas with almondy notes, this has a fresh, fragrant palate, with a dash of spice on a fresh, crisp finish. Dominic Jacobs of Harvey Nichols also found ‘herbal notes on the nose, and a mix of tropical fruit and exotic citrus flavours’, adding that he felt it was ‘easy drinking and good value’.

Fraser Gallop Estate Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2010, Margaret River, Western Australia
£9.89 @ Clark Foyster Wines
Great texture, plus a complex blend of gooseberries, citrus fruits and herbal flavours with
matching acidity leads into a good, long finish. ‘Very pleasant and refined,’ said Frédéric Billet. ‘Would go well with monkfish with a creamy sauce.’


Peter Lehmann margaret Semillon 2005, Barossa Valley, South Australia
£9.79 @ Enotria
Regarded by some as a food wine, the oak was evident alongside lemon curd and a nutty finish. Kyri Sotiri found floral, green apple and light toasty notes on the nose, followed by a light savoury palate with excellent structure.

Editorial feature from Imbibe Magazine – May/June 2011

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