Monday, February 9, 2009

Albarino Identity?

A press release from the AWBC has cast doubt on the identity of Albarino, aka Albarinho in Australia.
Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation, Winemakers’ Federation of Australia and Wine Grape Growers’ Australia are aware that doubt has recently been expressed regarding the true identity of certain vines planted in Australia and described as “albarinho”.
Late last year one Australian viticulturist sought confirmation of the identity of some albarinho vines planted in South Australia and sent samples to France for DNA testing. Results received late January suggest the samples from this vineyard represent examples of the variety savagnin, rather than albarinho. Further work is being conducted to replicate these findings.
At this stage our investigations suggest that vines described as “albarinho” in Australia are from one of a very limited number of sources. In fact it may be that they are all from the same source. Therefore doubt about the identity of the “albarinho” vines that have been tested may have implications for many, or all, Australian plantings of this variety.
Albarinho is originally from Galicia (northwest Spain) and Monção (northwest Portugal), where it is used to make varietal white wines. It is seen as having potential to be a significant variety in McLaren Vale, and other similar climates because it is able to withstand warm and dry conditions and maintain good aromatics.
The AWBC press release infers that there maybe a confusion between Albarinho and Savagnin Blanc, an white grape from Jura in France. Savagnin is thought to be developed from ancient Tramier, and be related to Viognier.
We have some informative comments from Wayne Farquar of Elite Nursery and SAVII who feels more information is needed.
Wayne provided the photo (top) of the CSIRO's imported Albarinho mother vine and notes their are differences between that and the French text books illustration of Savagnin (left).

"There is just too much conflicting information but it is clear to me that the AWBC press release was too specific and will create much ill will. 
A more questioning response of potential identity confusion should have been made with no reference to Savagnin or comments about it being a genuine error as it may not be. The French may have it wrong as clearly their photo, pictured left, in their reference books have closed sinus for Savagnin not opened as per the CSIRO import.

Last year I spent a couple of days in France with Mr Morisson from Morisson-Courdec who has one of the largest ampelography libraries in the world dating back many hundreds of years and I came away with only two clear results and they were that Savagnin had closed sinus and Albarinho had open sinus. Clearly this is not my area of expertise and I may have it completely wrong but let’s be sure that what we are saying is correct."
DJ's grape guide will post updates as more information comes to hand.

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