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Semillon

Semillon is extensively planted in a variety of soils but the spiritual home of this golden skinned grape is Bordeaux. Here it is always blended with Sauvignon Blanc to produce dry white and luscious dessert wines - as its thin skin is extremely susceptible to noble rot.

The sublime dessert wines of Sauternes show exotic honey: peach, apricot, candied fruits, barley sugar, and vanilla crème brulee. It's a style much copied the world over, but seldom do they attain such unctuous intensity, whilst retaining that backbone of acidity outside France.

In Australia, New South Wales produces a unique style of wine that is ranked amongst the best in the world - Hunter Valley Semillon. This is always made as a single varietal and bottle aged. However, although it is never oaked, it can develop a woodiness that leads you to think it has been barrel fermented.

Semillon seems to go through a 'dumb phase', where its initial citrus and apple-pear notes close up, but then develop into intriguing waxy, lanolin, burnt toast wines, that become more golden as they age and can even end up quite orange in colour.