Savagnin white wine variety in Australia

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Until very recently Savagnin was not known to be used commercially in Australia. It is now known that some vineyards in Australia which thought they were planting Albarino were in fact planting Savagnin. The wines are still excellent, it's just that the wine need to be marketed under a new name.

Savagnin is a white wine variety grown in Eastern France to make a curious style of wine called Vin Jaune - yellow wine. The wine is made from late picked grapes which and allowed to develop a yeast film or flor. If you think this sounds like sherry you are right, but the difference is that it is much cooler and there is no solero system used in Vin Jaune.

Savagnin is identical to the variety called Traminer, of which the distinctly aromatic Gewurztraminer is a mutation. Savagnin was previously thought to be confined almost exclusively to the Jura region of Eastern France, a long way from Spain, Albarino's home. The Wine Map of France will tell you where the Jura wine region is.

Bests at Great Western have had a vine or two of Savagnin in it's nursery block dating back to the middle of the nineteenth century.

Australian wineries using the Savagnin wine grape variety

919 Wines Riverland | Allinda Yarra Valley | Angullong Wines Orange | Avalon Wines King Valley | Bago Vineyards Hastings River | Banrock Station Riverland | Box Grove Vineyard Nagambie Lakes | Boyntons Feathertop Alpine Valleys | Brown Brothers King Valley | Centennial Vineyards Southern Highlands | Chalice Bridge Estate Margaret River | Chapel Hill McLaren Vale | Chrismont King Valley | Cirami Estate Riverland | Coolangatta Estate Shoalhaven Coast | Coombe Farm Vineyard Yarra Valley | Crittenden at Dromana Mornington Peninsula | Dalfarras Nagambie Lakes | Dirt Road Vignerons Barossa Valley | Drakesbrook Wines Peel | Dunn's Creek Winery Mornington Peninsula | Eumundi Winery Queensland Coastal | First Drop Barossa Valley | Fowles Wine Strathbogie Ranges | G Pattriti & Co McLaren Vale | Gemtree Vineyards McLaren Vale | Glandore Estate Hunter Valley | Golding Adelaide Hills | Gracebrook Vineyards King Valley | Hand Crafted by Geoff Hardy McLaren Vale | Heritage Estate Granite Belt | Hollick Wines Coonawarra | Irvine Eden Valley | Kangarilla Road McLaren Vale | Landhaus Estate Barossa Valley | Leabrook Estate Adelaide Hills | Loom Wine Mclaren Vale | Mad Dog Wines Barossa Valley | Mansfield Wines Mudgee | Minko Southern Fleurieu | Mosquito Hill Wines Southern Fleurieu | Omersown Wines Riverland | Parri Estate Southern Fleurieu | Pikes Clare Valley | Pindarie Wines Barossa Valley | Quarry Hill Wines Canberra | Rileys of Eden Valley Eden Valley | Rob Dolan Yarra Valley | Rusty Fig Wines South Coast Zone | Rutherglen Estates Rutherglen | Settlement Wines McLaren Vale | Soumah Yarra Valley | Stockman's Ridge Central Ranges Zone | Symphonia King Valley | Tamar Ridge Northern Tasmania | Tscharke Barossa Valley | Tuck's Ridge Mornington Peninsula | Wine by Sam Strathbogie Ranges | Zonte's Footstep Langhorne Creek

Accidents in Wine Identification

There have been many accidents in vine identification. This was quite understandable in the nineteenth century when the introduction of plant material was fairly haphazard. Nowadays we are a little surprised when this sort of thing happens. Identifying grape varieties is not a straightforward task. There are clonal variations which make the job difficult. If the vines are grown in a different environment the vines may take on different characteristics and growth forms. Viruses are quite common in grape vines and they can have profound effects on the appearance of the vine - further confusing the issue.

Chile's wine industry was based on a variety they thought was Merlot. In fact the "Merlot" vineyards there were nearly all a rare Bordeaux variety called Carmenere. When the naming issue was resolved the pragmatic Chileans said "We don't care! It makes good wine and were sticking with it." Nowadays they proudly label the wine Carmenere and are doing quite well out of it, and a few Aussie wineries are using Carmenere as well

A similar thing happened in Western Australia. A few wineries planted what they thought was Sangiovese. After a couple of years the vines were found to be a rare variety called Carnelian. This story had a happy ending for some wineries who liked the wine and have marketed it under its true varietal name.

The future of Savagnin in Australia

It seems that Savagnin has a future in Australia under its correct name, but marketing the wine is much more difficult. The similarity of the word Savagnin to Sauvignon blanc is an obvious problem for most consumers. Australian winemakers are obviously trying to distance their product from the mass produced stuff from across the Tasman. The solution may be to call the wine something else, this is permitted, as long as the new name is not the protected name of another variety or region.

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Savagnin at AAVWS 2014

Twelve Savagnin Wines were entered at the Australian Alternative Varieties Wine Show at Mildura in November 2014
  • Gold medals were awarded to Soumah, and Symphonia
  • Silver medals were awarded to Dalfarras, Pikes
  • Bronze medals were given to Bago, Drakesbrook, Glandore and Wine by Sam

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