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Semillon and Sauvignon Blends

New World versions of a clasic Bordeaux blend


Blended wines--both red and white--rule the landscape in France's Bordeaux region. When it comes to whites, semillon is almost always in play, typically in combo with sauvignon blanc. While the latter is the better known of the pair, semillon was once the world's most widely planted, quality white wine variety. It has an innate richness that when combined with sauvignon blanc's racy acidity and high-toned aromatics, makes for a beautifully well-rounded wine. And while France is the original home for these blends, in our tasting, the New World ruled. Here are the panel's top three picks:

2010 Buty Semillon, Sauvignon, Muscadelle, $25

Buty's Caleb Foster is one of the more talented winemakers in Walla Walla, Wash. (which is saying a lot). This blend, with its 18 percent muscadelle, 61 percent semillon and 21 percent sauvignon blanc, has an intriguing complexity with green apple, guava and citrus aromas. This wine is impeccably well-balanced, with creamy peach, apricot and pear fruit flavors playing against tangy grapefruit and melon.

2010 L'Ecole No. 41 Semillon, $13.99

At 86 percent semillion, this wine from a Walla Walla, Wash. pioneer has the highest percentage of the trio. It makes for a more unctuous wine with floral aromas of honeyed lemon and a touch of pineapple. This wine is round and ripe in the mouth, with lovely stone fruit backed by nuances of lime and mineral. Very soft acidity comes through on the smooth finish.

2011 Moss Wood Ribbon Vale Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, $30

Some of the finest semillon-based wines I've tasted have come from Australia, and this entry from the Margaret River region is no exception. The sauvignon blanc (at 38 percent) definitely comes through. This wine is bright and lively on both the nose and palate, with ginger-laced citrus aromas and crisp lemon and peach flavors. Notes of mineral and fig color the refreshing finish.