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Wine Spectator School

Class 4: Major Regional Varieties

round, lush whites from france




Semillon shines in Bordeaux where large plantings make the variety France's second most important in terms of production. A relatively early-ripener and a good producer, Semillon is well-suited to Bordeaux's shorter growing season with its not infrequent fall rains.

The variety's thin skin also makes it susceptible to botrytis cinerea, a beneficial fungus that dries out the grapes, intensely concentrating their flavors -- perfect for making sweet wines.


The Wine: In Bordeaux, Semillon is almost always blended with Sauvignon Blanc; Semillon's fat body and lighter acidity combine well with the leaner, more acidic Sauvignon Blanc. The results are dry, crisp white Bordeaux as well as some of the world's best dessert wines such as Sauternes.

The flavors associated with Semillon are lemon, hay and sometimes...

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