Taste: Soft, well rounded texture with aromas and flavors of apple, lemon, gooseberry, nectarines and pineapple, as well as honey, nuts and butter. Oak contributes additional flavors of vanilla and toast.
Dry / Sweet: Dry
Acidity: Medium to high
Age: Most can be drunk young, but the best wines age well for up to a decade, developing complex flavors.
The Sauvignon Blanc / Sémillon blend (SOH-vin-yohn BLAHN / seh-mee-Yon) is most closely associated with the traditional white wines of Bordeaux in France (called Bordeaux Blanc). At their best, these are some of the world’s finest dry white wines and are often compared with the top white wines of Burgundy.
The characteristics of these two grape varieties, wonderful on their own, complement each other beautifully when blended together. Sauvignon Blanc brings a vibrant fruit character and refreshing acidity, while Sémillon adds body, texture and allows complexity to develop. The result is a wine greater than the sum of its parts when all elements come into harmony and balance.
These wines are dry, and generally full bodied with medium to high acidity. On the palate they can display citrus, stone and tropical fruit flavours of apple, lemon, gooseberry, nectarines and pineapple as well as honey, nuts and butter. Fermentation and / or aging in oak will add additional flavors of vanilla and toast. Their textures are creamy, lush, soft and well rounded, especially when the wines are aged on their lees (sediments including dead yeast cells, grape pulp and seeds that settle at the bottom of the tank) before bottling.
The best wines improve for up to a decade in bottle, developing complexity as they evolve and mature. These Rich style wines are also very versatile with food and are especially good with richer and creamier dishes. They can deliver exceptional value for money as they are often overlooked, primarily due to the fact that the focus in Bordeaux is on red wines, which account for about 12 out of every 13 bottles produced in the region.
Simpler versions of this white Bordeaux blend are generally more common and you can expect these wines to be much lighter in body and made in the Crisp style, with Sauvignon Blanc dominating and Sémillon reduced to a minor role. Many of the less expensive dry wines are pure Sauvignon Blanc varietals. While they are perfectly adequate wines they will not meet the expectations of a Rich style devotee.
Although most blends are a combination of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon, some can also include a small proportion of the lesser-known Muscadelle grape variety to enhance the bouquet with its intense perfume aroma. Wines made in an older and more traditional way may also include small proportions of other grapes, such as, Merlot Blanc, Colombard, Mauzac, Ondenc or Ugni Blanc.
Sweet (Dessert) wines made from this blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon (with Sémillon being the dominant partner and Sauvignon Blanc playing a small supporting role) are some of the world’s longest-lived and most expensive wines. They achieve their greatest heights in the Sauternes appellation, which lies within the Graves district just south of Bordeaux, where the legendary wines of Chateau d’Yquem have been made for over 400 years.
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