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Is the premature discussion about Albarino's identity justified?

by Dr Richard Smart

The Australian Wine and Brandy Corporation released an email on 4 February with subject, Doubt expressed regarding true identity of Albarinho (sec). This email reports that an Australian viticulturist sent samples of Albarino to France for DNA analysis which returned the result as Savagnin, a minor Italian variety. Should this email have been released? Indeed, it added to the confusion by creating a new varietal name 'Albarinho', a curious blend of the Spanish name Albarino and the Portuguese one Alvarinho. This name should be retracted.

Has anything been gained by making this information public, before the appropriate ampelographic and DNA tests were done? Surely, it would have been better to hold off with an announcement until the matter was resolved.

This Albarino issue raises the question as to which local body has the responsibility to administer correct varietal identification including use of correct names and valid and invalid synonyms. It has not been possible for more than 10 years to find out which varieties have been imported into Australia, and there is no national germplasm collection to act as reference. Is this an appropriate situation for a wine sector in which alternative varieties might help restore a competitive edge?

Daily Wine News readers are welcome to respond to Richard's opinion direct at or to Lauren Jones, editor of The Australian and New Zealand Wine Industry Journal and Australian Viticulture,

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