Semillon is a golden-skinned grape used to make dry and sweet white wines, mostly in France and Australia. Sémillon, which is relatively easy to cultivate, consistently produces high yields per acre from its vigorous vines. It is fairly resistant to disease, except for rot. The grape ripens early, and when in warmer climates, it acquires a pinkish hue. Since the grape has a thin skin, there is also a risk of sunburn in hotter climates; it is best suited to areas with sunny days and cool nights. The Sémillon grape is rather heavy, with low acidity and an almost oily texture. Along with Sauvignon blanc and Muscadelle, Sémillon is one of only three approved white wine varieties in the Bordeaux region. The grape is also key to the production of sweet wines such as Sauternes.
The origin of the Sémillon grape is hard to determine. It is known that it first arrived in Australia in the early 19th century and by the 1820s the grape covered over 90 percent of South Africa's vineyards, where it was known as Wyndruif, meaning "wine grape". It was once considered to be the most planted grape in the world, although this is no longer the case. Today, for example, it accounts for just 1% of South African vines.
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