This blend is a modern, simplified version of the classic White Bordeaux Blend, in which Muscadelle, Sauvignon Gris, Ugni Blanc, Colombard and Merlot Blanc may be added to the mix. In the past few decades, consumer demand for fresh, flavor-forward wine styles has led many Bordeaux producers to shun simple, grapey Muscadelle and neutral-scented Ugni Blanc and Colombard. The result has been a shift away from the classic white Bordeaux blend towards the more marketable pairing of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.
Outside France, Australia's Margaret River is the New World stronghold of Sauvignon Blanc - Semillon blends. The area has developed a reputation for its "SSB" wines, which few wineries omit from their product range. Rarely restrained, Margaret River SSB wines are marked by notes of lemon and grapefruit underpinned by pungent aromas of grass, straw and fresh asparagus. Over time, they have moved steadily away from the Bordeaux style, and towards that of ever-popular, intensely grassy Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc (see Marlborough).
Dry Sauvignon - Semillon wines are most often intended for consumption within a few years of vintage, but a handful of the very finest (particularly barrel-matured examples which favor Semillon over Sauvignon) will improve in bottle for a decade or so.
Sweet wines made from this blend are among the world's longest-lived and most expensive, as exemplified by Sauternes' legendary Chateau d’Yquem. In Sauternes, and neighboring Barsac, Semillon and Sauvignon grapes are harvested in multiple sweeps (tries successives) through the vineyard, picking only grapes with optimum levels of botrytis. The resulting wines have a luscious, silky texture and rich aromas of candied lemon, marmalade, apricot and honeysuckle.