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.
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.
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.