Wine debate rages after 40 year error uncovered
A FORTY year wine mix-up has only just been uncovered with producers inadvertently selling the wrong variety.
What growers and producers thought was the sophisticated flavours of the Petit Manseng, have been wrong all along.
The Petit Manseng grape was imported to Australia from France in 1979 by the CSIRO.
Recent inspection by a French ampelographer and confirmation from the CSIRO has in fact shown the wine is Gros Manseng.
Granite Belt winemaker Mike Hayes, who brought the variety to southern Queensland and northern NSW, says it has been disappointing to receive criticism for his role in introducing the variety.
"I have traced my source back to the purchases and it appears that the variety, according to DNA, that the vines I introduced to the north originate from CSIRO," Mr Hayes said.
"Did we know it wasn't Petit? No. Was there DNA testing of the vines back then? No.
"I have heard many furphies about Mike Hayes introducing Petit Manseng to Australia when in fact it came here in the first year of my industry experience in 1979.
"So no, I didn't bring it back from Europe and I didn't know it wasn't Petit Manseng when I sourced it from nurseries," Mr Hayes said.
The Sirromet chief winemaker introduced the variety to five wineries after first falling in love with it.
Since then, some Granite Belt wineries have been awarded for what they thought was Petit Manseng wines.
One of those was Ballandean's Symphony Hill Wines.
Owner, Ewan Macpherson, said it could be challenging to sell a wine named 'Gros', but he would have fun trying.
"I love the wine itself, the wine we make is gorgeous," he said.
"But the name, I think, is more gorgeous when it's called Petit Manseng compared to Gros Manseng.
"I'm actually looking at a great opportunity to make an interesting label out of it with the word 'Gros' being highlighted and celebrating how funny that is."
Mr Hayes said any criticism of Wine Australia over the mix up was unwarranted.
"I find it quite distressing to see a few Manseng growers in Australia attacking certain industry organisations with outlandish accusations and unwarranted retaliation.
"Some growers are upset that they can`t call their wine Petit and think now it needs to be called Gros.
"I have a simple solution, drop both the Gros and Petit and simply rename it Manseng," he said.