Boekenhoutskloof Wine Farm Franschhoek South Africa.
Semillon is one of the Cape’s true heritage white varietals, with origins as early as the 17th century (when it became known as Groendruif which translates as Green grape), the grape variety accounted for more than 90% of plantings in the first half of the 19th century. While South African Semillon has not quite taken off as a serious commercial category in single varietal form in the modern era, there are stunning wines being made from especially older vineyards (some of them centurions). More often, the variety plays a role in beefing up the volume of Sauvignon blancs.
The best South African Semillons have juicy fruit with often an ethereal-like citrus perfume, fine texture, herbal interest and manage to marry the intensity of flavour with finesse.
The grape is also key to the production of sweet wines such as Sauternes. For the grapes to be used for sweet wine production, they need to have been affected by Botrytis (also known as “Noble Rot”). This fungus dries out the grapes, thus concentrating the sugar and flavours in the grape berry.
Infestation by Botrytis requires moist conditions. If the weather stays wet, the damaging form, “grey rot,” can destroy crops of grapes. Grapes typically become infected with Botrytis when they are ripe. If they are then exposed to drier conditions and become partially raisined this form of infection is known as noble rot. Grapes when picked at a certain point during infestation can produce particularly fine and concentrated sweet wine. Wines produced by this method are known as botrytized wines.
“noble rot,” it is a beneficial mold that grows on ripe wine grapes in the vineyard under specific climatic conditions. The mold dehydrates the grapes, leaving them shriveled and raisinlike and concentrates the sugars and flavors. Wines made from these berries have a rich, complex, honeyed character and are often high in residual sugar.
Photos by Sandro Tasso Wide Angle photo studio Paarl Franschhoek…