Category Archives: Sémillon

La Croix St. Vincent 2015 Sauvignon (Blanc)

75% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Sémillon; 12% ABV
Bordeaux, France
imported by Max Beverage, South Pasadena, CA
$5 at the Richmond, CA, store on 22 May

I don’t remember seeing a white Bordeaux at the GO for some time, and the reds on this label, and from this importer in general, have been good, so I was excited to try this wine.  I found it tasty and so easily drinkable.

The nose is lovely, of yellow and green melon and gooseberries, with aromatic floral / musqué character.  On the palate, the body is light, giving the flavors – those in the nose plus some yellow grapefruit and green lime, minerality, slightly astringent bitterness on the finish – a nice delicateness.  For me, this went down way too easily, and we had no trouble finishing the whole bottle.  Highly Drinkable.


Chateau Simon Carretey 2008 Sauternes

Sauternes AOC, Bordeaux, France; 13.5% ABV
imported by Halby Marketing, Inc., Sonoma, CA
$7 for 375ml at the Richmond, CA, store on 27 Feb

chsimoncarretey_2008_sauternesOn the nose and then on the palate, the wine shows full-flavored but delicately delineated honeysuckle, yellow pear / apple, pineapple, ripe Asian pear, very slight (if any?) botrytis, and ripe apricot.  This is not the most amazing Sauternes, but it is an outstanding bargain.  Like most such sweet wines, this could probably develop well for at least another ten years in good storage.

The next day, the flavors were much the same, with the flavors more delicate and “liquidy.”

Stickybeak 2010 Semillon – Sauvignon Blanc

Sonoma County, CA; 14.3% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 29 July

Stickybeak_2010_SemSauvBlancThis wine had also intrigued me for a while.  I forget when and why, but Stickybeak has somehow impressed me as a pretty good negociant, and I also liked that they cared enough to make the traditional Bordeaux white blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc.  I finally opened a bottle and, indeed, it’s pretty good for the price.

While the flavors might be slightly washed out from age, it is still pretty fresh and tasty.  The wine shows the white melon / melon rind of Semillon and the yellow apple / lemon and a little green melon of Sauvignon Blanc, in a nice blend gently supported by oak, with an occasional hint of green bell pepper, especially as it warms.  The fruit is gently ripe, well balanced by tasty acid.

The next day, the rest in the bottle is still pretty good, but to me not quite as good as the first day.  The fruit is more forward and full, still nicely blended, but the finish is slightly more rough.  Still, I think this is pretty good for the price.  Don’t wait to drink it.

MSH Cellars Sauvignon Blanc 2009 $8.99

Produced/bottled by: MSH Cellars, Calistoga, CA
ABV 13.8%
Purchased: Albany, OR 1-16-2013

FullSizeRender 3I wasn’t sure whether to bite on this one or not, but we are having sushi tonight and none of the other whites grabbed my fancy. The 2009 was what made me hesitate, coupled with the fact that it was $9. 2009 is rather old for an SB, IMO, but that being said, according to information online, MSH is the secondary label of Source Napa or Gamble Family Vineyards. This Yountville Sauvignon Blanc was made from their holdings in Napa. I was intrigued. I have a few Cabs from Yountville aging at present, one of them is an older Gamble Family CS. It has a good pedigree, so I thought we’d try this.

Composition: 96% Sauvignon Blanc, 4% Semillon

Color: Pale greenish-yellow
Nose: Unimpressive, fruit and a bit of mineral.
Taste: 2 years ago, Cellartracker contributors said this was going down hill. It doesn’t taste like it to me. I taste pear, tropical fruit and a bit of minerality. It’s fruit forward but dry, crisp yet smooth and doesn’t have a heavy alcohol taste, nor does it have any weird or chemical aftertaste. I really expected it to be “past it” but I actually think it has aged quite nicely.  At least our bottle was well cared for because there isn’t any sign of oxidation.

So, in reference to Darrell’s comment earlier, to my surprise, I don’t think it’s time to pull the plug on this one yet. We finished it with our dinner and enjoyed it. I think it’s a bit overpriced for GO, but given how well it’s aging,  I see why. SRP Is $13-16.

2010 Geoff Tate Columbia Valley Insania White Wine, WA $3.99

Silverdale, WA    13.5% alc.    (Purchased on 9/20/14)
62% Semillon 38% Sauvignon Blanc

IMG_1757For those old-timers like me who were unaware, Geoff Tate is the lead singer of NW 80’s heavy metal band Queensryche.  His wines are/were produced by Three Rivers Winery in Walla Walla (aka. W2).  The Three Rivers site no longer appears to list his wines, but this one got a great review by Wine Enthusiast and local wine writer/wine producer Paul Gregutt in July 2012.  It’s holding up very well.

Clear pale straw; a somewhat earthy nose of roasted grain, flintstone, subtle lime zest and sage.  In the mouth, it’s bone dry and tart; nicely balanced with extract and mouthfeel (due to extended skin contact?); flavors similar to the aromas with the additional taste of grapefruit and grapefruit pith.  A pretty good facsimile of a decent white Bordeaux i.e. Graves.

This wine is very reminiscent, to me, of the first dry white WA wines I ever had…in particular a 100% Semillon that Associated Vintners (now Columbia Winery) used to produce.  Actually, if I remember correctly, Napa Valley’s Clos Du Val also used to produce a delicious and very dry Semillon.  Semillons usually age quite well and they can be the perfect accompaniment to steamed clams and mussels or oysters raw on the half shell.  I believe the Silverdale store only got one case of this wine and last I checked there were but three bottles remaining.

un4seen 2011 white

made from California Chardonnay, Semillon, Moscato, and Viognier; 13.5% ABV
$4 at the Richmond, CA, store on 14 July

un4seen_2011_whiteWhereas I was drawn to the un4seen 2009 red mostly by the grapes in the blend, here I was mostly drawn in by the un4seen red.  🙂  The white is very much in the same mould as the red: exuberantly delicious, maybe even more so than the red.

The most obvious flavors right away were yellow peach and honeysuckle from the Viognier, but that was enriched by ripe yellow apple from the Chardonnay, accentuated by aromatic melon from the Muscat, and likely supported by some white wax bean from the Semillon.  The ripe fruit is nicely balanced by acid and a little bitterness.  I often find Muscat too cloying, but this wine does not trigger that dislike.  Like this wine’s red counterpart, the flavors are a wild and tasty jumble rather than an elegant blend, but again, who cares?

Bordeaux Standard 2005 Sauternes

Bordeaux, France; 13.5% ABV
$6 for 500ml at the Richmond, CA, store on 28 Apr

BS_2005_SauternesAfter liking the Bordeaux Standard reds (2004 Haut-Medoc and 2006 St. Emilion), I jumped at this Sauternes from an outstanding year.  Although this wine is a little lighter than previous Sauternes I’ve tasted, it’s quite delicious.

The first small glass was a little reserved, but the second opened to gently viscous honeyed ripe pear and melon, butterscotch, slightly bitter caramel, and botrytis.  I am not that much into dessert wines, but this even, balanced, decently complex wine is outstanding for the price.

Note that I have here gone with a Lim13-style portrait of the whole bottle as I agree that, in this case, a close-up of the ugly label doesn’t do it justice.

NV Aja White Table Wine, Australia $3.99

Silverdale, WA    12.5% alc.    (Purchased on 12/20/13)

IMG_1341Front label states, “A unique Australian white table wine specially blended to go with spicy Asian food.”  Website indicates it’s “made from Hunter Valley Verdelho and Semillon, together with Sauvignon Blanc from the Adelaide Hills”.

Brilliant, very pretty medium golden color.  A fair amount of German diesel aroma in the nose, which is a bit strange because there is apparently no Riesling or other German varieties in the blend.  There is also a flinty, gravelly, earthy quality to the nose too.  Fairly high acidity gives it a very tart, lemony taste on the front of the tongue through the finish.  These strike me as qualities I would expect to see in Portuguese Verdelhos.  Flavors show stone fruit like underripe peach with floral qualities and more tart citrus.

What surprised me most about this wine was the lack of residual sugar…something I look for when matching a white with spicy Asian cuisine.  The sugar usually helps to soften the heat a bit.  This is a very unique wine, especially for an Aussie white.  Tasty, but too dry and tart for it’s purpose in my estimate…and I had it with chicken teriyaki with spicy hot garlic pepper sauce.  Try it for the experience…if you can find it…especially while it’s on sale at $3.19 in WA.  Not a repeat buy for me.

2011 Lake and Vine Lake County Sauvignon Blanc, CA $7.99

Silverdale, WA   13.2% alc.    (Purchased on 6/28/13)

IMG_107083% Sauvignon Blanc 9% Semillon 8% Riesling    Nice package came plugged with a “corkburger”, which really doesn’t bother me a bit.  But it seems like an excellent candidate for a screwtop (to preserve the wine’s freshness).  Back label says it’s produced and bottled by Lake and Vine in Kelseyville and that 2,026 cases were produced.  I could find no information about the wine or winery on the web.

I tasted this wine at a GO in-store tasting before buying two bottles.  Brilliant pale straw with the tiniest bit of spritz when first opened (though the spritz disappated quickly).  Very aromatic nose of grass/hay and herbal greens with some spice.  Plenty of sweet fruit on the front of the tongue through mid-palate with more grassy, herbal qualities as well as underripe pear and some lemony citrus.  Reminds me of some of the early Napa and Sonoma Sauv Blancs from the 70’s and 80’s (think Kenwood, Grgich Hills, Matanzas Creek).  There seems to be a possibility of slight residual sugar, perhaps from the Riesling.

A refreshing, uncomplicated, but very tasty wine and perhaps (by GO standards), a bit overpriced.  Acidity and texture are nicely balanced with the fruit.  Very cleanly made and fine summer quaffing material.

Castle Road 2010 Semillon-Chardonnay ($5)

Southeast Australia. 66% Semillon, 34% Chardonnay; 12.9% ABV
Purchased 4/4/2013 at the San Pablo, CA store

Castle Road 2010 Semillon-ChardonnayAn attractive label and a few good experiences with this blend from Oz landed this one in my basket. A waxy nose of white peach overlaid with a honeyed floral note reminds me of the Melaleuca trees that bloom here in the spring, another Australian import. The palate is light-bodied, tending toward thin in the middle, clean and crisp with a nice dose of sweet Bartlett pear. Lacking some of the richness from the Semillon and more Chardonnay character of better examples. Pleasant, quaffable, even somewhat interesting, but the watery midpalate and short finish keep it from getting better than drinkable. Lindemans Sem-Chard is about this price at the supermarket and probably of comparable quality (although it’s been a while since I’ve had it). Your non-Gross-Out-savvy friends might me more impressed with this label though 😉