CSIRO have confirmed through DNA testing that their Albarino is not Albarino but Savagnin Blanc also know as Traminer.
They have stated;
1. The DNA profiles of the Spanish Albarino and Savagnin Blanc samples were different, confirming that Albarino and Savagnin Blanc are different varieties.
2. The DNA profile of the CSIRO’s Albarino plants matched the Savagnin Blanc (Traminer) sample from Spain.
3. The DNA profile of the Spanish Savagnin Blanc (Traminer) sample was identical to the eight Traminer samples from the CSIRO’s collection.
All material supplied by McLaren Vale and other vine improvements was sourced from the SARDI collection which they received from CSIRO. Other nurseries also have been supplied directly or indirectly from CSIRO or Vine Improvement.
Either way all Albarino has been sourced originally from CSIRO and is in fact Savagnin Blanc.
To my knowledge all 'Albarino/Savagnin' except for very recent private imports from Nurseries and South Australian Vine Improvement are from the CSIRO source. Most of these recent imports are not commercially available.
It is likely that all the vineyards in the McLaren Vale area are Savagnin not Albarino as labeled. If you have concerns about this please contact me, or refer to the Australian Wine and Brandy Corporations press release here.
How did this occur?
There is some confusion in Spain about the true identity of their Albarino vineyards. It could be that some Savagnin Blanc is mixed in with Albarino vineyards, or maybe that many vineyards called Albarino in Spain are actually Savagnin Blanc.
It is also possible that during the importation process there may have been an error.
Strong wine quality
Regardless of the identity of the grape, the wine is performing very well in Australia. The grape shows the ability to hold flavour in warm ripening areas, including McLaren Vale.
For the sake of those growers and wineries with the misidentified Albarino, we need to be positive there and start telling the public how lucky we are in Australia to have discovered this fantastic wine as a result of an identity error.
Unfortunatley Savagnin sounds very similar to Sauvignon which presents a hurdle. It is likely the public will confuse the wine with Sauvignon Blanc. To add to the confusion Savagnin's alternative name is Traminer, very similar to Gewurtztraminer, in fact Gewurtz is more commonly called Traminer in Australia. The two are different grapes.