Bob Henrick wrote:there are a handful (small hand) of California Semillons you can find when you get back here
Hoke, I am purposely taking you just a bit out of context, but With a purpose of my own.
I just recently picked up a bottle of 2004 Ch. Ste Michelle sauvignon blanc and found it is blended with a smidge of semillon. I usually drink my SB's from either NZ or Chile and seldom from the USA. I would love to be able to afford the French sb's but alas! This little $7.99 bottle is easily as good as most $15 white Bordeaux, and the difference in it and most west coast sauvignon is the semillon and no discernible oak. (yes I do understand that there are unoaked Cal sauvingon)
Fair enough, Bob.
Washington state has grown Semillon for as long as it has grown Sauvignon Blanc, and the Semillon is normally blended with the SB. You can find a few varietal Semillons too, as well as Semillon-Chardonnay blends and Sem-Sauv blends labelled as such. Most of those don't make it far outside the state or region though.
I think Eastern Washington is a great growing area for Semillon, and that Sem and Sauv make great blending partners, since the Sem often adds some body and flesh to the leaner SB, softens the aggressive acidity a bit, and adds "bottom" to the blend. Semillon can develop some almost tobacco-like characteristics too, which makes for interesting variations in blends.
Since the New Zealanders don't go the Semillon route (I don't believe there's much, if any, Semillon in New Zealand), I personally believe that's why they are playing around with adding a smidge of oak-influenced SB to some of their blends, to give that touch of roundness and softness and fleshiness that pure cold-climate SB usually shows.
The most controversial Semillon is easily the Hunter Valley in Australia. I confess I'm not a big fan of that style---but it is so distinctive, I think it is a "love it or hate it" decision for most people.