Weekly Wine Quiz #73: Grape Trivia – Sémillon
Welcome to the weekend and your new wine quiz!
We are continuing our grape trivia series, still focusing on the white grapes, and today’s subject is Sémillon.
Sémillon is a white grape, once considered the most planted grape in the world. One interesting fact is that the origin of Sémillon is not easy to pinpoint – while working on this quiz, I went through quite a few articles on Internet and even books, and it is hard to find any historical data outside of the fact that Sémillon was very popular in the early 19th century throughout the world. In the early 19th century, over the 90% of all grape plantings in South Africa was Sémillon – considering its popularity, it was simply called Wyndruif, the “wine grape”. Today, Sémillon occupies roughly 1% of the grape plantings in South Africa. It is still the most planted white grape in Bordeaux, where it is used in the production of most of the white wines, from dry wines of Pessac-Léognan, Graves and Entre-deux-mers, to the spectacular dessert jewels of Sauternes and Barsac. Sémillon plantings exist in many other winemaking countries – Australia, Chile, Italy, New Zealand, California and Washington in US - but you rarely hear about Sémillon, as it is mostly used as a blending grape. Well, this might be changing – but we will not be talking about it in the quiz.
The issue with Sémillon is that under normal growing conditions, it tends to produce plump and dull wines, the wines which are not showing much of the aromatics and have very low acidity. When the grape is forced to work hard, it can produce amazing wines. In Sauternes, Sémillon is typically affected by Botrytis cinerea, the noble rot, which leads to the shriveling of the grapes which concentrates the sugar – dessert wines produced from such shriveled grapes are some of the best in the world (Châteaud’Yquem, anyone?) - they also make some of the longest living wines in the world, being capable of ageing for 100 years and beyond. In Australia’s Hunter Valley region, the grapes are exposed to the harsh climate with the high level of humidity, which leads to the grapes accumulating high level of acidity. Hunter Valley Sémillon is known to age very well, and the wines also improve with age quite significantly.
And now, to the quiz!
Q1: Name a grape, primary blending partner of Sémillon
Q2: Below is the list of years. There is something common between all of them (and of course it has a relationship with Sémillon) – do you know what is common among those years?
1930, 1952, 1964, 1974, 2012
Q3: Ture or False: Sauternes produces only sweet wines
Q4: Name a key factor for the great tasting dry Sémillon wines
Q5: What is Semageddon?
There is nothing wrong with answering even only one question from the quiz – your participation is always appreciated! Also, without any regard to the questions, please share your personal experiences with Sémillon wines.
Good luck, enjoy the quiz and your weekend! Cheers!