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Tuesday 14 April 2020

Support Your Local Wine Merchant - Sauvignon vs Semillon

A kiwi Sauvignon vs an Aussie Semillon

Week two of our taste-off with MW-student friends; we are comparing and contrasting Sauvignon and Semillon. The Sauvignon is from the cellar; the Semillon is an oaked Aussie from Cambridge Wine Merchants.

The profiles of these two grapes could hardly be more different; Sauvignon Blanc is everyone's go-to white. Its home is the Alantic side of France from the Loire down to Bordeaux, but these days is New Zealand's signature grape and accounts for the vast majority of all plantings there.

New Zealand's distinctive style of Sauvignon is something of a happy accident; with no significant infrastructure to build off, early winemakers relied on plentiful dairy suppliers to make their wines in stainless steel under chilled conditions, giving a fresher, more aromatic result.

By contrast, varietal Semillon is much harder to find, much more of a niche grape and will probably set you back a bit more - basic, entry-level Semillons are rare. It is famous for the sweet wines of Sauternes and Barsac, blended with Sauvignon in white Bordeaux and uniquely produces ageworthy-yet-low-alcohol wines in Hunter Valley.

Peter Yealands Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2016 from the cellar, this is aromatic and expressive with cut grass, blackcurrant leaf, gooseberries, zippy line and passionfruit. Mineral with good underpinnings and still very youthful.


Match with aromatic salads or white fish in a herby broth.

Kilikanoon, Pearce Road Semillon, Clare Valley, 2015 (£20, Cambridge Wine Merchants) aromatic, spicy and dieselly on first opening, the new oak then comes to the fore before it all settles down. By day four it has become harmonious and is showing beautifully with lemon curd, citrus, and creamy oatmealy savouriness.

Needs extensive aeration - several hours in the decanter to show its best; will age for years and decades.

Very Good.

A versatile food wine, match with plain roast chicken or pork.

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