Home > Australia, Bordeaux, France, Grapes, Sémillon, wine quiz > Weekly Wine Quiz #73: Grape Trivia – Sémillon

Weekly Wine Quiz #73: Grape Trivia – Sémillon

September 14, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments
Sémillon grapes affected by noble rot, as shown in Wikipedia

Sémillon grapes affected by noble rot, as shown in Wikipedia

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!

  1. September 14, 2013 at 11:31 am

    1. Sauvignon Blanc
    2. Years when Yquem was not produced.
    3. True
    4. Noble Rot (botrytis)
    5. A celebration of Semillon that Hawk-Wakawaka (Elaine Brown) has something to do with

    • talkavino
      September 14, 2013 at 1:19 pm

      Thanks for playing Jeff! The answers are coming on Wednesday.

    • September 14, 2013 at 2:27 pm

      Ooops, sorry, I mis-read question 4. I want to change my answer to “high acidity”.

      • talkavino
        September 14, 2013 at 2:35 pm

        No problems : )

  2. September 14, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    1.Sauvignon Blanc
    2. Years without vintages
    3. False. If my memory servers me right, I tasted dry whites when I was there. If I’m wrong, I will have to visit there again 🙂
    4. If the acidity is high, Semillion can produce wines with great complexity and aromas. But it’s not my favourite 🙂
    5. Never heard.

    Thanks for the quizz again.

    • talkavino
      September 14, 2013 at 4:37 pm

      Excellent work, Namie. Question 5 might be a bit unfair – it is really US-centric – but 100% relevant to the subject : )

  3. September 14, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    1. Muscadelle (just to be different; as far as I know Muscadelle is a blending partner of Semilion in Bordeaux))
    2. Yquem was not produced in those years.
    3. True. Sauterne wineries might produce a dry wine under the Bordeaux AOC appellation.
    4. High acidity
    5. A celebration of Semillon in Napa Valley. Had to do some Google research on this one because I’ve never heard about Semageddon before. It doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal though..

    • talkavino
      September 15, 2013 at 11:34 pm

      Good job, Julian! Answers are coming on Wednesday.

  1. September 18, 2013 at 11:30 pm
  2. November 30, 2013 at 9:05 am
  3. June 28, 2014 at 9:20 am

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