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Winemakers see red over CSIRO vine bungle -

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Winemakers see red over CSIRO vine bungle

Broadcast: 16/04/2009

Reporter: James Bennett

Winemakers in several states are furious at the CSIRO over a bungle which could cost them millions
of dollars and years in lost production, after it emerged that vines the CSIRO sources from Spain
as Albarino grapes are actually a French variety called Savagnin Blanc and cannot be sold as
Albarino.

Transcript

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Winemakers in several states are furious at the CSIRO over a bungle which
could cost them millions of dollars and years in lost production.

It's emerged that vines the CSIRO sources from Spain, its albarino, are actually a French variety
called Savagnin Blanc, not to be confused with Sauvignon Blanc.

Now it can't be sold as albarino, and despite the wine's popularity, its future is unclear.

James Bennett reports.

JAMES BENNETT: Rollo Crittenden has planted what he thought were albarino wines, established a wine
label with a Spanish flair and even bought supposed albarino grapes from other producers to kick
start production.

ROLLO CRITTENDEN, WINEMAKER: Extremely frustrating and very disappointing and certainly if the
certain bodies had of done their homework initially,, we wouldn't of been in this mess, and it
really is a mess.

JAMES BENNETT: That certain body is the CSIRO, which imported cuttings of the variety from Spain.

DR SIMON ROBINSON, CSIRO PLANT INDUSTRY: CSIRO imported the vine in good faith, but as soon as we
became aware there was a concern, we've done our utmost to use DNA typing to try and work out the
real origin of this vine.

JAMES BENNETT: The grapes are grown in South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia, and the
Wine and Brandy Corporation says all growers should now have their vines DNA tested.

For growers who thought they had the jump on the market, it's a potential setback in production of
between seven and 10 years.

MAX ALLEN, WINE JOURNALIST: It's a real shame for Australian producers if they're not going to be
able to kind of jump on the bandwagon, or ride the wave, and be able to sell this style of wine to
people when it's just become so popular.

JAMES BENNETT: Labelling laws prevent winemakers from calling these grapes albarino. The question
now is what to do with wine which is popular not just because of its Spanish name but also its
taste.

SPOKESMAN, WINE GRAPE GROWERS AUSTRALIA: There needs to be some flexibility for those people who
have produced it in good faith believing it to be albarino.

JAMES BENNETT: Growers hope that means they'll be able to sell this year's wine as albarino. Beyond
that, they'll have to either start again or teach Australians the difference between Savagnin and
Sauvignon.

James Bennett, ABC News.