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Meet the Adriatic » Zinfandel is Croatian Dalmatian, wine sort!

Zinfandel has cult status in America. It's the thirds most widespread grape variety and makes up 23% of total wine production in US. It's produced by more than 250 American winemakers and bottlers in more than 4.800 various wine labels. It rose to popularity in 1991 with the founding of the not-for-profit organization ZAP (Zinfandel Advocates and Producers), which gathers fans and producers of Zinfandel. Americans considered Zinfandel to be their own grape variety and sought to protect it in 2001. By a stroke of luck that same year DNA analysis show that Zinfandel was in fact and autochthonous Croatian variety known as Crljenak Kastelanski.
After years of studying the origin of America's most popular variety Zinfandel, prof. Carole Meredith from the University of California.
Davis, confirmed that the Italian Primitivo was genetically identical to Zinfandel, and that the Croatian variety Plavac Mali was genetically similar to Zinfandel. That's when she relized she had to look for Zinfandel root's in Dalmatia. At the same time, as Croatia was preparing to join the EU, experts from Zagreb's Faculty of Agriculture, prof. Maletic and prof. Pejic, attempted to use the DNA method to prove and protect the autochthony of Plavac mali.



In late 2001, having visited old Dalmatian vineyards and collectted more than 150 various wine leaf samples, the American - Croatian team of scientists found an identical genetic profile - Crljenak Kastelanski. A full 40 years after Miljenko Grgic saw a familiar wine in Napa Valley, American's most important wine region, the mystery is finelly solved: Zinfandel's roots had been found in Kastela. Zinfandel is in fact Crljenak Kastelanski and, according to records, it's been grown in Dalmatia since the 15th century under the name Tribidrag of Pribidrag. In 2001 not a signal Croatian winemaker produced Tribidrag or Kastelanski Crljenak. It was a very rare variety , used exclusively for blending with other varieties. Today, 14 years later, Croatian winemakers have recognized the variety's importance. There are now some fifteen labels carrying it's name on the market.

The wine is produced by Croatian winemakers from the area of Dadar, through Kastela, Omis, Brac to Peljesac and Konavle. Dr. Carol Meredith was a professor at the Department of Viticulture and Enology of University of California, Davis, and a leading global expert on genetic typing of grape varieties and elucidating their parentage. Today she is retired and grows grapes in Napa Valley. Of course, she cultivates Zinfandel among othe varieties. But her Zinfandel is special, as she is the first winemaker in America that replaced Zinfandel with Tribidrag on her label. Dr. Carol Meredith has confirmed her participation in the big Tribidrag conference in Split 2017.




TRIBIDRAG IS ONE OF THE 39 ORIGINAL CROATIAN GRAPE VARIETIES

The wealth of original varieties is a proof that the countrey has wine making history and as such is predestined to plant vineyards. As many as 39 original grape varieties compared to Croatia's size roves the fact. Of all autochthonous grape varieties, Tribidrag is the only one truly geographically widespread. Known as Zinfandel, Primitivo, Kratosja or some other name, it is grown in Montenegro, Macedonia, Italy, America, South Africa, Chile, New Zealand, and even in India. Only the most important and most famous varieties have managed to take root in all global winemaking localities. It should be also noted that there's no good restaurant or bar in world whose wine chart does list doen't include at least one Tribidrag wine. And that is why Tribidrag is so important.


JANCIS ROBINSON RECOGNIZED THE IMPORTNACE OF TRIBIDRAG


This was confirmed by Jancis Robinson, globally renowned wine critic and journalist, qualified as Master of Wine. In 2012. she published a new wine variety lexicon titled "Wine grapes". In it, she described as many as 1368 globally known grape varieties, most of which are Italian (377), followed by 204 French, 77 Portuguese and as many as 39 Croatian varities. This 1300 - page wine bible, Tribidrag and its historic path are described on 6 pages. For any information on Zinfandel, Primitivo, Crljenak, the author directs you to Tribidrag. The author proved her fascination with Tribidrag at a party held for the book's publication in London, which gathered the world's wine elite and offered carefully selected wines for sting. The selection featured nine wines, one of which was Tribidrag itself. Jancis Robinsons has given great push forward for Croatian winemaking, especially the Tribidrag variety.