Tell Me About BC Semillon

Semillon wine grapes (By Alison Parks-Whitfield - originally posted to Flickr as SemillonBlancBunch5, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9956045)

Semillon wine grapes (By Alison Parks-Whitfield – originally posted to Flickr as SemillonBlancBunch5, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9956045)

Just like Malbec, the white Semillon grape is not that well-known in BC wine production.  Semillon is a blending grape in Bordeaux with Sauvignon Blanc to make White Bordeaux blends as well as it is used as one of the grapes to produce the sweet Sauternes wines.  Semillon is a fuller bodied grape, and offers a waxy texture to the wine.  In cooler climates it has citrus flavours while in hotter climates you get more peach and mango flavours.  In Australia, Semillon is venerated as a single varietal wine in the Hunter Valley (cool climate) region.  Hunter Valley Semillon can age for many years, taking on an oaked character, although no oak was used in the fermentation and ageing processes. 

I have read that the Semillon grape is easy to grow and has a quite vigorous volume of grapes each harvest and would think that it would be a grape well suited to grow in BC.  But how many wineries or wines are being produced from Semillon in BC?  I visited the BC Liquor Stores website, Swirl Wine Store, Everything Wine, BC Wine Info Centre, plus the last 2 years of my tasting notes from various trade tastings, to see how many Semillon, or blends with Semillon, I could find. 

Checking the winebc.com website, the list of the most planted white grape varieties, Semillon does not show up in the top six.  The sixth most grape is Viognier with 90 hectares (2019 stats), so Viognier should have even a smaller number of hectares planted.  

This stat does lead into the small number of wines with Semillon in BC.  The breakdown is as follows:

  • Single varietal – 9
  • Blend – 21

30 wines in total.  In blends, Semillon usually has an 20-30% percentage in a blend with Sauvignon Blanc, and possibly other grapes used in the wine.  Semillon does show up in some of BC’s top tier white blends, such as Clos du Soleil Estate White Reserve and La Frenz Ensemble Reserve.  The eight single varietal Semillon are made by:

  • La Frenz Winery
  • Lock & Worth Winery
  • Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery
  • Black Market Wine Co.
  • Bartier Brothers Vineyard & Winery
  • Lake Breeze Vineyards
  • Anthony Buchanan Wines
  • Clos du Soleil Winery

Which Wineries Are Making Wine With Semillon Grapes?

These are the wineries I determined through my search, but there may be others:

  • La Frenz Winery
  • Lock & Worth Winery
  • Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery
  • Black Market Wine Co.
  • Bartier Brothers Vineyard & Winery
  • Lake Breeze Vineyards
  • Anthony Buchanan Wines
  • Clos du Soleil Winery
  • TIME Winery
  • Bench 1775 Winery
  • Kettle Valley Winery Ltd.
  • Fairview Cellars
  • Liber Farm and Winery
  • Covert Farms Family Estate
  • Blasted Church Vineyards
  • Howling Bluff Estate Winery
  • Black Hills Estate Winery
  • Kismet Estate Winery
  • Tinhorn Creek Vineyards
  • Nk’Mip Cellars
  • Hester Creek Estate Winery

If you know of other BC wineries making wine using Semillon grapes, please post your comment below.  Thanks.

A Few BC Wine Reviews of Semillon Wines

Bench 1775 White Meritage 2016

Bench 1775 White Meritage 2016

Bench 1775 White Meritage 2016 (wine club exclusive) – This blend is made from 54% Semillon and 55% Sauvignon Blanc grapes; A white Bordeaux blend.  Partially aged for 12 months in new French oak barrels.  It has a youthful nose, with aromas of tropical fruit, vanilla, and flowers, evenly balanced.  The aromas are more on the sweet than the citrusy side.  It is off-dry, full-bodied, with a very silky mouthfeel. The lower level of acidity in this wine gives it a softer mouthfeel.  More tropical fruits on the palate, with lesser amounts of pears and apples.  With some air, I also picked up some green fruits and lime flavours.  Stony mid-palate.  With decanting the green fruit and lime flavours no longer were detected.  The wine has a medium length, finishing off-dry, with some pepperiness, bitterness, vanilla oak, and tropical fruit.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars An elegant, complex wine with tropical fruit flavours and a bit of sweetness.

TIME Winery White Meritage 2018 (BC $25) – This is a white Bordeaux blend, which uses 50% Sauvignon Blanc and 50% Semillon grapes.  It has a lighter intensity blend of straw and lemon colours.  A medium intensity nose with toasty, lemon primarily, and peach secondarily, aromas.  You can add more peach and less toast aromas with decanting.  This wine is dry, quite smooth and has a waxy feel to it (which comes from the Semillon grape).  It has a lower acidity and a thicker mouthfeel.  More citrus flavour with lesser peach, plus toast and a touch of green fruit.  The biggest thing that I noticed with this wine with decanting was the addition of stony and salty minerality; the fruit flavours stayed the same.  This wine has a medium plus length with a very smooth finish.  Citrus and pith and a touch of pepperiness on the finish.  Elegant.
Rating4.5 out of 5 stars A quality, elegant white Bordeaux blend.  Enticing lemon, toast and a touch of peach on the nose and palate upon opening.  More peach with decanting.  Quite smooth and almost waxy on the palate.  Elegant.
 
Black Hills Estate Winery Alibi 2018 ($24.90) – a blend of 60% Sauvignon Blanc and 40% Semillon.  It is a medium intensity lemon in colour. It has a very light/closed nose at the moment but did pick up lime, orange and other citrus aromas.  The wine is medium-bodied with a thick, smooth rich mouthfeel.  Medium acidity.  Light citrus flavours along with honey and a touch of pepperiness.  Mineral toward the finish.  An elegant wine. 4.5 out of 5 stars
 
Kettle Valley Semillon Sauvignon Blanc 2014 – A very nice nose, combining flint, stone fruit, pears and vanilla. Medium plus body, round and soft with a silky feel.  Floral, stone fruit and pears on the palate. Excellent.  – 

Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.