GRAPE growers and wine makers are fuming over a CSIRO bungle that has seen it supply vineyards with the wrong grape variety for more than a decade.
Producers who thought they had bought the promising Spanish white wine variety albarino - and poured marketing dollars into carving a niche for that variety - have been bottling the almost unheard of French variety savagnin blanc, not to be confused with sauvignon blanc.
Winemaker Rollo Crittenden, from Crittenden Estate at Dromana, is distraught.
"We've worked hard to build up this variety. Now we have to start again," he said.
It is an offence to intentionally sell, export or import wine with a false description.
"DNA testing should have been carried out before the cuttings were sold," he said.
"One would have to assume a lot of wine in Spain planted as albarino is also savagnin. Are they going to stop calling theirs albarino?"
Because its name was so similar to another variety, calling the variety savagnin blanc would be a "debacle", Mr Crittenden said.
Trentham Estate co-owner Tony Murphy was stunned that the wine fermenting in his tank had been "substantially reduced in value".
"Who will pick up a wine they've never heard of?" he said. "It cost thousands to plant it . . . something was on a roll and all of a sudden it stops.
"We'll talk to our marketing people and see whether they're even interested in selling it."
Sam Miranda Wines owner Sam Miranda was adamant that what he bought was albarino.
"The French variety has two seeds whereas ours has four seeds," Mr Miranda said.
Winegrape Growers Australia executive director Mark McKenzie said Spain's own national wine collection had made the same mistake.
"Almost all (Australian) wine previously labelled albarino will be savagnin," he said.
Mr McKenzie said there was a chance to use the publicity to promote the wine to new consumers.
CSIRO program leader Dr Rob Walker said the material had been imported in 1989 when there was no DNA typing available.
"We imported it in good faith as albarino," he said.
CSIRO sourced the material from connections it had with researchers in Spain, he said.