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Synonyms see section synonyms
Art Grape vine ( Vitis vinifera subsp. Vinifera )
Berry color golden yellow, pink
origin France
known since 16th century
VIVC no. 11480
List of grape varieties
Sémillon grapes

Sémillon is a white grape variety that is particularly widespread and important in France (11,566 ha 2010). Because Sémillon is prone to noble rot due to its thin skin , sweet wines such as Sauternes can be made from it. It is the base variety for the top wines from Sauternes.

Descent, origin

It is an old French variety. Presumably selected from the Gironde forests. It appeared there in the 16th century. A DNA analysis carried out in 2009 is closely related to the Sauvignon Blanc variety.

The name Sémillon means "little seedling" or could be derived from the Saint Emillion growing area. It was mentioned in 1771 in Puy-l'Eveque (Lot).

Ampelographic variety characteristics

  • The shoot tip is open. It is white-wooly to almost tomentose, greenish with a slightly reddish tinge. The yellow, bronze-colored and slightly blistered young leaves are only slightly woolly hairy.
  • The medium-sized leaves are five-lobed and deeply indented. The stem bay is open in the shape of a lyre. The blade is bluntly serrated. The teeth are set medium-wide compared to other grape varieties.
  • The cylindrical grape is medium-sized, shouldered and dense berries. The round berries are medium-sized and golden yellow in color, which changes to a slightly pink color when the berries are fully ripe. The berries have a thin skin and have a slight note of nutmeg in the taste.

Maturity: medium-ripening approx. 20 days after the Gutedel .


With 22,047 hectares of cultivation area in 2015 (34,000 hectares in 1998), it is declining sharply worldwide, but it is still one of the particularly noble varieties. It has its greatest distribution and importance in France.


0.375 l Bouteille from Sauternes from the Château d'Yquem
Château d'Yquem castle

With Muscadelle and Sauvignon Blanc, it is involved in the great sweet wines of Bordeaux such as Sauternes and Barsac , Cérons , Loupiac , Sainte-Croix-du-Mont and Cadillac . The same applies to the sweet wines of the Sud-Ouest wine-growing region with their appellations Bergerac , Monbazillac , Montravel and Saussignac . The variety is also used in the white wines of Rosette , Côtes de Duras , Côtes de Blaye , Côtes de Bourg and Graves, as well as in the sparkling wine Crémant de Bordeaux . In Provence it is approved in the grape variety mix of the appellations Côtes de Provence , Coteaux Varois en Provence and Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence .

In 2008, 17 Bordeaux wineries , including such well-known ones as Château d'Yquem , Château Olivier , Château Suduiraut and Château La Tour Blanche, joined forces in a joint project with the aim of growing their own clones when the vineyards became scarcer.

Other wine-growing countries

Further areas can be found in Chile (846 ha, as of 2010), Argentina , South Africa (1,182 ha, as of 2010), Australia (6,112 ha, as of 2010), Israel and California .


Sémillon is often blended with Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle, with which it ideally complements. In Bordeaux, it is mainly represented on the Rive gauche (left bank of the Garonne). Here it is contained in the sweet wines of the Graves area (with Cérons and Sauternes), for example in what is probably the most famous French sweet wine, Château d'Yquem. Sémillon brings sweetness and oiliness and ensures longevity. Gold-colored, liqueur-like, strong, elegant, long-lasting. Fine scent of honey, linden and acacia blossoms. Traditionally, the wines are aged in barriques. The wines are pale yellow to amber gold when bottled. The color deepens on the bottle until it finally turns a fox-red tinge. The superficial sweetness disappears, appears almost dry and caramelized after several decades of storage.

Excellent dry wines are also made from it, for example in the Pessac-Léognan area.


Shrunken berries and botrytis infestation
Berries with noble rot
Grapes with noble rot
Sémillon grapes in Napa Valley without botrytis

The variety is hardly susceptible to powdery mildew and downy mildew , has little tendency to trickle and copes well with the drought in the summer months. In wet years, the berries are often attacked by the raw rot. However, if the berries are attacked by the Botrytis cinerea mold in autumn , the noble rot required for the sweet dessert wines occurs .


Despite medium-high yields, these are usually still too high at 80–90 hl / ha, so that a targeted thinning of the grapes has to reduce the yield in order to achieve good wine quality.


Synonyms 58: Barnawartha Pinot, Blanc Doux, Blanc Sémillon, Boal, Boal No Douro, Cheviler, Chevrier, Chevrier Blanc, Colombar, Colombarride, Colom, Daune Verte, Dausne, Feher Sémillon, Goulon Blanc, Goulu Blanc, Green Grape, Greengrape, Groendruif, Gros Semillon, Hunter River Riesling, Madeira, Maisois B., Malaga, Malaga Bianco, Mances Blanc, Mansois Blanc, Marcillac, Monsois Blanc, Oron Sémillon, Petit Sémillon, Petrichtstrich Weisse, Saint Semillon, Sauternes, Semijon, Semilao, Semilhao , Semilion, Sémillon Bianco, Sémillon Bijeli, Sémillon Blanc, Sémillon Blauen, Sémillon Crucillant, Sémillon Feher, Sémillon Grugillant, Sémillon Muscat, Semillon Picolo, Semillon Roux, Semillon Weisser, Semillon Weiss, Semilon, Semilyon., Seminon Emilion, grapes, Wynedruif.


Individual evidence

  1. a b c K. Anderson, NR Aryal: Database of Regional, National and Global Winegrape Bearing Areas by Variety, 2000 and 2010, Wine Economics Research Center, University of Adelaide, December 2013 (first revision April 2014) (second revision May 2014 ) (third revision July 2014).
  2. Hans Ambrosi , Bernd HE Hill, Erika Maul, First H. Rühl, Joachim Schmid, Fritz Schuhmann: Color Atlas Rebsorten 3rd Edition, Eugen Ulmer, 2011, ISBN 978-3-8001-5957-4 .
  3. Jane Anson: Bordeaux: Semillon shortage threatens future vintages. ( Memento of April 14, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) at: , published April 8, 2008.
  4. Hans Ambrosi , Bernd HE Hill, Erika Maul, First H. Rühl, Joachim Schmid, Fritz Schuhmann: Color Atlas Rebsorten 3rd Edition, Eugen Ulmer, 2011, ISBN 978-3-8001-5957-4 , pp. 216-217.
  5. accessed on January 2, 2017 Sémillon in the database Vitis International Variety Catalog of the Institute for Grapevine Breeding Geilweilerhof (English)