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This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register. Perhaps diversity is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about Napa Valley. Especially for people who live outside of Napa, if asked what wine comes from Napa, they will always say “Cabernet Sauvignon.” But, no matter how good the Cabernet is, Napa offers so much more. According to the Napa Valley Vintners, there are 45,000 acres under cultivation in Napa Valley. There are more than 34 different wine grape varieties grown in Napa County, and 23 percent of the vineyards are planted to white wine grapes and 77 percento red wine grapes. Forty-seven percent of the grapes planted are Cabernet Sauvignon, with Chardonnay, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Zinfandel making up another 41 percent of the total grape production. That leaves 12 percent of the grapes planted to other grapes and here are six of the grapes to look out for. Semillon - Fine Disregard 2016 Milhouse Semillon, Oak Knoll District, Napa Valley ($25) In 2016, there were 724 tons of Semillon in the Napa Valley and Fine Disregard produces 218 cases of their Semillon. A personal project by winemaker Mike Schieffer, assistant winemaker at Truly, and Kate Maraden, a viticulturist and plant pathologist, the Semillon comes from a half-acre block planted on the eastern edge of Oak Knoll District in 1994. The resulting wine is clear and bright with notes of lemon curd, citrus zest, tree fruits and minerality and a lovely mouthfeel that is both round and delicate with racy acidity.

This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.

The world of white wines offers hundreds of varieties and one variety that has caught my attention is semillon, specifically from the Hunter Valley in Australia.
Semillon is perhaps best known when harvested late with botrytis to produce Sauternes and Barsac, some of the world’s greatest dessert wines. As a young wine, it is commonly blended with sauvignon blanc for Bordeaux blends. But in the Hunter Valley, Australia’s oldest wine region, semillon is a wine to watch out for.
Chuck Hayward, founder of Vinroads and the former Australian and New Zealand Wine Buyer at JJ Buckley Fine Wines, is a big proponent of Australian wines. “My interest in Aussie wine started in the late ‘80s when the first ‘cheap and cheerful’ wines entered the US. They were just really good values, full of flavor and easy to like,” he explained. Hayward started Vinroads as a consulting outfit dedicated to marketing and education for Australian and New Zealand wines in the U.S.
This story originally appeared in the Napa Valley Register.
So many times, I hear people say that they do not like white wine or they prefer red wine. To me, there is a time and a place for every wine.
And, as much as I love red wines, I am currently obsessed with white wines. Chenin blanc, assyrtiko, grenache blanc, riesling, gruner veltliner, vermentino and so on, the vast diversity of white wine in the world is what I find exciting. I have now added semillon from the Hunter Valley, Australia to that list. de-iullis-wines-2
When you think of Australian wine, you probably think about shiraz. But in the Hunter Valley, located in New South Wales, two hours from Sydney, semillon is the iconic wine of the region.
Semillon, a golden-skinned grape, is the famous variety blended with sauvignon blanc to make Bordeaux blanc. With “noble rot” from botrytis, semillon is the dominant variety in the sweet dessert wines of Sauternes, Barsac and Cérons. But outside of France, semillon’s other primary home is the Hunter Valley.