Urging Reviews of American Sauvignon Blanc-Semillion Blends

whiteglassCharlie Olken, a man who has seen and tasted more wines than 99.9% of us, makes an interesting observation in the latest Connoisseurs Guide Blog Post: Why the hell are there not more Semillion-Sauvignon Blanc blends produced by American wineries?

It’s not as though this blend of whites isn’t both common and well-accepted (see Bordeaux — or, for that matter, see Australia. Or, just talk to the Meritage Alliance). Additionally, this blend of whites has another thing going for it: it isn’t Chardonnay, The most hated (and loved) white wine among American wine enthusiasts.

One reason we don’t see many of these SB-Semillion blends produced by American wineries is, as Olken points out, there just isn’t that much Semillion planted. But I think a more reasonable explanation, which also explains why there isn’t much Semillion planted, is that it is much more difficult to market a white blend than nearly any other type of wine.

One of my clients at Wark Communications does currently and has for quite some time just such a blend. They planted Semillon on their Napa estate precisely to make this blend. The owner is a confirmed enthusiast when it comes to the great wines of France and Europe and was inspired by the great White Bordeaux. He does not make much. But he makes just enough that those on his allocation list and those who have become devoted followers of this wine always get theirs.

I would love to see Charlie Olken review a significant panel of white wine blends from this classic combination of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc. If you are a winery that makes just such a blend or know of one, get over to Olken’s blog post, let him know you’ll send in a sample and I’ll promise my client’s wine. Maybe if enough samples are committed, we’ll see the first significant set of reviews of this style of wine produced by American producers in a long time.

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4 Responses

  1. Bill Mciver - February 3, 2015

    SB, the only white wine worth drinking.

  2. Bob Henry - February 4, 2015

    A comment I left for Charlie on his blog — reproduced here:

    Whenever I attend a wine industry trade tasting, I ask the producers of appealing Sauvignon Blancs if they add any Semillion to their blend.

    The almost universal answer is “no.”

    Not for lack of interest.

    Few wineries had the foresight to plant the Semillon grape variety when they replanted their vineyards in response to phylloxera.

    And few vineyards sell Semillon on the “open market” as a cash crop.

    Consequently, they have no supply.

    Brander makes a lovely SB-Semillon blend.

    Buttonwood makes a lovely SB-Semillion blend.

    Kalin makes both SB and Semillon, but I don’t recall of Terry Leighton makes a blend of the two.

    Signorello makes a SB-Semillon blend named “Seta.”

    Do the Wentes of Livermore with their famous Yquem property clippings make a Semillon? Or bottle a SB-Semillon blend? If so, they have fallen off my radar screen for lack of publicity/promotion.

    Amador Foothill Winery makes a Semillon.

    Brander makes a Semillon.

    Chatom of Calaveras County makes a Semillon.

    L’Ecole in Washington makes a Semillon.

    Luminesce (sourced from Buttonwood) makes a Semillon.

    Saxon Brown makes a Semillon.

    Lindeman’s of Australia makes a Sem-Chard blend.

    Rosemount of Australia makes a Sem-Chard blend.

    And I’ve run out of names off the top of my head . . .

  3. Wayne Young - February 4, 2015

    “it is much more difficult to market a white blend than nearly any other type of wine.”
    BINGO! So let me take this one step further…. Why not urge a large tasting of ALL blended white wines from all over the world?
    Working for a producer in Friuli and knowing that the best white wines in Italy (and obviously Friuli) are blends, why stop at SB and Semillon?
    We tried to start a movement here in Friuli 15 years ago called “Super-Whites” which was a success for a while, until it got watered down with non-blended wines. Nonetheless, white blends are certainly among the great white wines of the world and deserve more respect than they get in a varietal-centric market. Vespa, Tunina, Terre Alte, Studio Bianco, Arbis, Batar, etc etc… Theses are GREAT wines.
    Viva gli uvaggi… let’s taste them all!

  4. Bob Henry - February 4, 2015

    Geez — these late night blog comments are killing me.

    For the record: yes, it is spelled Semillon — not Semillion.

    (Vanna, I can sell back a vowel?)


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