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Sémillon, France

Semillon is widely grown in Australia. And like Riesling is one of the very best grapes for demonstrating the different characters emerging from Australia's varied wine regions. There are many different styles produced, however, the Hunter Valley is by far the most famous. Semillon from the Hunter Valley is lean, pale wine with citrus, grapefruit and flintiness in its flavour. With a few years bottle age it turns into a honeyed, nutty, classic wine. The Barossa Valley tends to be the most luscious, often with oak age, it has aromas of peaches and mangoes. Margaret River’s versions are a fine balance between these two styles, and they age well too. It is most often blended with Sauvignon Blanc to produce the regions famous blends.

In France, it is the main grape for Sauternes. Elsewhere in Bordeaux it is the most widely planted white grape and is blended with Sauvignon Blanc to produce the dry whites of Graves. In Bordeaux, where it can be aged in oak, it produces wines that are high in alcohol and extract, but relatively low in aroma and acidity. Its thin skin makes it very susceptible to botrytis which is prerequisite for the making of Sauternes.
Wine is being produced throughout France and has been done for over 2,500 years with certain Châteaux dating their history back to Roman times, around 6th Century BC. Ranking second in the world in per-capita consumption and first in total production quantity. More-so than the overall quantity of wine is the quantity of truly great wines coming out of France makes the nation the envy of wine-making nations worldwide.

Two concepts pivotal to the higher end French wines, in particular, are the idea of 'terroir' and the Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée (AOC) system. Terroir refers to the way the geography, geology and climate find their way into the glass, telling a story of the origin of the wine. The AOC was set up in 1935 and has the primary goal of protecting the authenticity of the wines and the livelihoods of the producers. Appellation rules strictly define which varieties of grapes and winemaking practices are approved for classification in each of France's several hundred geographically defined appellations, which can cover entire regions, individual villages or in some cases, like in Burgundy even specific vineyards.

Classic wine regions in France include Champagne (home of Champagne), Burgundy (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), Bordeaux (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Petit Verdot), Alsace (Aromatic varietals), Loire Valley (Chenin Blanc, Crémant) and the Rhône Valley (Syrah, Grenache Mourvedre)

The Bordeaux classification of 1855 is still in use, as is the Sauternes and Barsac Classification of the same year. Wines from certain regions can be bought En Primeur, which is when the wine is sold prior to it being bottled.
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