A stunning white from the tip of Africa. Marrying Sauvignon Blanc with 31% Semillon to brilliant effect, this has a combination (grape) skin contact, lees contact, barrel fermentation and stainless steel ageing, all designed to add more layers of flavour to a remarkable white. Saline, herbal and understated, with vanilla and pink grapefruit flavours and a stony bite.
White Varietal: Semillon
2019 Susana Balbo Signature White Blend, Uco Valley, Mendoza( £17.99, 13% )
This pioneering white blend of Semillón with 35% Sauvignon Blanc and 25% Torrontés from the brilliant Susana Balbo and her team has rapidly established itself as one of the best in Latin America. Barrel fermented in 60% new wood, it’s leesy, toasty and very fresh, with a lovely combination of beeswax, pink grapefruit and struck match flavours, a dusting of sweet spices and engaging elegance. Contact Las Bodegas for local stockists.
2007 Mount Pleasant Cellar Aged Elizabeth Semillon, Hunter Valley( £14.95-£17.80, 11%, Berry Bros & Rudd, Hedonism, Slurp )
Not many white wines age as wll as Hunter Valley Semillon and this is well up to speed, as its haul of medals (plastered all over the front label) testifies. It’s just starting to shift into another gear, developing the toasty notes that are so typical of the style. Refreshing, waxy and taut with custard, honeysuckle and citrus peel notes. Long and satisfying.
2012 Clos Floridene, Graves, Bordeaux( £17.99, 13%, The Co-operative )
Denis Dubordieu deserves his reputation as one of the best white winemakers in Bordeaux. Clos Floridène is a case in point, a textbook blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and a dash of Muscadelle that benefits from 25% barrel fermentation. Tangy, fresh and grapefruity, this has subtle oak, good texture and minerally flourish.
2012 Pegasus Bay, Sauvignon Blanc Semillon, Waipara Valley( £15, 14.5%, New Generation Wines )
There aren’t many producers around the world who can make Bordeaux blends to rival the stuff that’s made in Pessac-Léognan, but Pegasus Bay is one of them. This delicately oaked, full-bodied cuvée is rich and sumptuous, with waxy, herbal flavours, a hint of vanilla and a tangy, refeshing finish. On past form, this should age well too.
Blank de Blancby Simon Woolf
2007 McGuigan, Semillon Bin 9000, Hunter Valley, New South Wales( £14, 11%, Tesco Fine Wine )
The sort of wine that seems to win medals in its sleep, this Semillon is something of a wine nerd’s white. It’s well priced, especially given its quality, and will age beautifully in bottle, too. Smoky, leesy, waxy and toasty with underlying citrus fruit ping, no apparent oak and a lovely lighthness of touch.
2012 Château de France, Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux( N/A, 14% )
There’s been a lot of talk about the 2013 Bordeaux whites being the vintage’s silver lining, but it’s important to remember that there are some appealing older vintage on the market that are already in bottle, this being a case in point. This is quite an opulent Pessac-Léognan, exhibiting flavours of guava and melon, subtle oak, a touch of gunflint and a fat, lees-influenced finish.
2010 Harvey Nichols Sauternes, Sauternes, Bordeaux( £15 per half, 14%, Harvey Nichols )
Any retailer that sources its Sauternes from Château Coutet (in Barsac) is aiming high and this is a delicious sticky from a vintage that is better known for reds than whites in Bordeaux. This is richer and sweeter than Coutet often tends to be, but it’s still a treat, with flavours of pineapple and barley sugar, medium acidity, subtle oak and rich, honeyed mouthfilling complexity.
Spend less, drink betterby Matt Walls
2012 Clos Floridene, Graves, Bordeaux( £16.99, 13%, The Co-operative )
Great to see a supermarket taking a punt on a top white Graves, especially one made by the brilliant Denis Dubourdieu. This lightly oaked blend of 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 47% Semillon and 3% Muscadelle is delicious, boasting notes of struck match, vanilla, pink grapefruit and subtle gooseberry. It’s the kind of wine that ages really well, too.
2007 Waitrose Sauternes, Château Suduiraut( £16.99 down to £12.74 per half, 14%, Waitrose )
It’s something of a coup for Waitrose to source their own label Sauternes from the First Growth property of Château Suduiraut. The result is a very classy dessert wine with the emphasis on botrytis-affected Semillon with a dash of Sauvignon Blanc. The oak is deftly handled here, adding a spicy nuance to the flavours and aromas of honey, beeswax and crème brûlée. The intense sweetness is balanced by just the right amount of acidity.