The Semillon grape takes well to oak and acquires vanilla flavors from the process. Like Sauvignon Blanc, wines made with Semillon are very food friendly. They pair very well with fuller-bodied seafood dishes and stand up well to herbs and pepper.
There are currently about 1,600 acres of California Semillon. However, the grape takes a decided backseat to Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in the Golden State. Semillon vines must regularly be thinned to keep yields down and increase flavor concentration.
In Europe, Semillon vineyards are centered in the Graves, Sauternes, and Barsac regions of Bordeaux. It is the dominant grape in Chateau d’Yquem and comprises about 80% of that blend. Sauvignon Blanc makes up the rest.