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Home News > May 2020 > New World Semillon takes home medals

This year saw a record number of Semillon entries into the Sommelier Wine Awards. Judges were wowed by the quality of the varietal and didn’t shy away from awarding plenty of medals. But, to everyone’s surprise, this year the majority of the medals weren’t awarded to Australia. Can you guess which region took the lead?

The competition judges are no strangers to hand-selling Semillon from their lists, even the biggest fans of the grape know these wines aren’t going to walk off their list unaided. ‘They are often offered as an alternative to Sauvignon Blanc’, judge after judge commented on Semillon’s exciting food-matching potential.

But this year the tables were turned slightly, Semillon’s much-loved home of Australia didn’t go home empty handed, but its New World counterparts took home the lion-share of medals. To the surprise of all, it was South Africa that dominated in the medal count in 2020.

The country wowed judges, leaving team leader, Jade Koch, applauding it for its ‘different starting price points’. Valentin Radosav, head sommelier at Gymkhana Restaurant, enjoyed the added complexity of the wines from the ‘slightly nutty, delicate oaky aromas’.

Coming up closely behind South Africa, was Napa and Argentina. The Napa Semillons were praised for their ripe yellow fruit notes that were coupled with ‘delicate oaky, vanilla aromas’. Whereas the Argentinian Semillon differed with a more tropical nose of ‘ripe peach and mango flavours’.

Overall the grape variety was greatly loved by judges, with Michael Driscoll from Careys Manor Hotel & SenSpa concluding ‘Semillon is a great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc, but with smoky richness compared to that crisp, acidic style Sauvignon is known for. And it’s usually fantastic when it comes to food pairing.’

See the Semillon winners here