The wonderful diversity of semillon

Semillon is glorious at any age.
Semillon is glorious at any age. Photo: Shutterstock

Semillon is a French grape variety that has made a good home for itself in Australia, but in few other places on the globe. In Margaret River, it makes a herbaceous, often oak-fermented dry white; in the Clare and Barossa valleys it's less grassy and sometimes wood-aged, while the Hunter Valley's low-alcohol, crisp, unwooded style is the benchmark. It's great to drink young as a fresh, light-bodied, delicately lemon scented wine – perfect with fish and seafood – and ages well for at least a decade, gradually building layers of toasty, beeswax-and-honey secondary complexities. Several Hunter wineries sell semillon at various degrees of maturity, typically first in the year of vintage, second five years later, and sometimes again after another five years or more. It's glorious at any age: it just goes with different foods.

Tyrrell's Belford Single Vineyard Semillon 2013, Hunter Valley, $35 

Score 97

At five years of age and with seven gold medals to its credit, this is outstanding value. The bouquet is straw-like and lightly toasty; the taste is deliciously fruity in the middle with intense lemon-juice flavour that is starting to build aged complexity. The balance is immaculate, the finish super-long. Screw-cap; 11.5 per cent alcohol.

Two Rivers 2018 Stones Throw Semillon.
Two Rivers 2018 Stones Throw Semillon.  Photo: Supplied

Ageing? Drink now to eight years.

Stockists include Vintage Cellars stores.

Two Rivers Stone's Throw Semillon 2018, Hunter Valley, $20 

Score 93

This gold-medal winner has a light green-yellow colour and a fresh citrus and lightly herbal aroma, the palate juicy and crisp, delicate and appetising, with balanced acidity and some ripe-fruit sweetness rendering it all the more approachable young. Screw-cap; 11 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Drink now to 10 years.

Stockists include Porters Willoughby & Northwood (NSW); cellar door and


Mount Horrocks Semillon 2017, Clare Valley, $34 

Score 92

This has a light yellow hue and a lightly toasted cashew-nut bouquet. It's a barrel-fermented style but is not oaky. It's full flavoured but not at all heavy, the texture seamlessly smooth, harmonious and the finish refreshing. A beautifully turned out wine. Screw-cap; 12.5 per cent alcohol.

Ageing? Drink now to six years.

Stockists include Jim's Cellars, Waitara and Woollahra (NSW); and