Semillon Chardonnay is a pretty common wine blend, though it can be hard to get your head around it. When learning about wine, we discover that certain grape varieties have specific characteristics in terms of flavour and aroma. It can be tricky enough to remember which individual grape variety tastes like what. How does Albariño compare with Godello, for example? What’s the difference between Sauvignon Blanc and Sauvignon Gris? The issue becomes trickier still when we talk about blends.
Semillon Chardonnay is a case in point: Maybe you understand Semillon, and maybe you understand Chardonnay. What happens when you put ‘em together, though? And why even do it in the first place? Don’t worry, though. Our handy Semillon Chardonnay cheat sheet will tell you everything you need to know!
Semillon Chardonnay and other wine blends
First things first: Semillon Chardonnay is a blended wine, that is, it’s a wine made by blending together two or more distinct grape varieties. Many famous wines are blends, such as Bordeaux and Champagne. The red Bordeaux blend is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, though may also include Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, Malbec and Carménère. The Champagne blend may include Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The Semillon Chardonnay blend is not as common as Bordeaux or Champagne, but it is common in one place: Australia.
Australian Semillon Chardonnay: Where does it start?
Semillon Chardonnay as a blend is possible because its two component grapes, Semillon and Chardonnay, are both individually popular in Australian wine.
- Semillon is common in the Hunter Valley and Barossa Valley regions, where you will find top barrel-aged examples like Torbreck Woodcutter’s Semillon 2009. This is a high-quality Aussie Semillon, hand-picked from the best vineyard land and fermented and aged in French oak. This sort of Semillon has a savoury flavour profile and aromas of cashews, exotic fruit and brioche. Such wines are capable of long ageing, and this is a beautifully mature example.
- Chardonnay is found in different Australian regions, and a great example is Pierro Chardonnay 2002 from the Margaret River region. Quality Australian Chardonnay of this kind is rich, complex and full-bodied. Expect aromas of toffee and peach, among others.
Putting it together: Semillon Chardonnay blends
Individually, Semillon is great and Chardonnay is great. Why, then, do winemakers blend the two together and make Semillon Chardonnay? Of course, the only person who can answer that is the individual winemaker in each case. One likely reason is an effort to accommodate consumer tastes. The premium, high-end Australian whites mentioned above appeal to a certain type of consumer – usually serious wine lovers, adventurous and with expensive taste. They are not to everyone’s taste, however!
Lots of wine lovers dislike oak-aged whites. Some find Chardonnay too full-bodied. Others find the aromatics of Semillon don’t appeal to them. Some can’t afford to buy higher-end bottles, and find that cheap Chardonnay or Semillon are not to their tastes. These reasons, and many more besides, mean that lots of consumers simply won’t be buying a top Australian Chardonnay or Semillon any time soon. The solution for the forward-looking Australian wine industry: Semillon Chardonnay blends!
The appeal of Semillon Chardonnay
Semillon Chardonnay offers the consumer some clear advantages: When compared to high-end single varietal wines, these blends are less expensive. Many such blends are made by large producers in huge volumes, so costs are low and prices can be low, too. For those that are put off by the style of either Chardonnay or Semillon, a Semillon Chardonnay blend can strike a gentle balance between the two: The character and acidity of Semillon with the generosity of fruit of Chardonnay!
Have you ever tasted a Semillon Chardonnay wine? Tell us about your favourites in the comments below!