The red grape variety comes from Croatia. Synonyms alpabically grouped by country are Morellone, Primaticcio, Primativo, Primitivo, Primitivo di Gioia, Uva di Corato, Zagarese ( Italy ); Crljenac Kaštelanski, Crljenak Kaštelanski, Pribidrag, Trebidrag ( Croatia ); Grakošija, Gratošija, Krakošija, Kratkošica, Kratkošija, Kratkošija Crna, Kratošija, Kratošijo ( Montenegro ); Zinfandel ( United States ). Despite apparently suggesting synonyms or morphological No similarities with the varieties Blatina, Crljenak Crni, Plavac Mali or Vranac be confused. According to the two California scientists Dr. Carole Meredith and John Bowers DNA analysis at the University of California In cooperation with Croatian and Italian vine specialists from 1994 to 2011, the identity was clarified for decades:
The Croatian Tribidrag (in older sources still Crljenak Kaštelanski ), the Italian Primitivo , the California Zinfandel and the Montenegrin Kratošija are genetically (almost) the same. The variety is therefore also called ZPC = Zinfandel / Primitivo / Crljenak Kaštelanski. Primitivo and Tribidrag / Zinfandel are not 100% identical according to DNA analyzes, but are considered one vine, According to the ampelographic rule, a variety is designated by the oldest name used, which is why in the grape variety bible " Wine grapes “The name Tribidrag, already mentioned in the 15th century, was proposed. The game types have changed over the past 200 years Maturity date, Disease susceptibility and taste developed a little differently. Zinfandel has its very own history in the USA, so there is a special keyword for it.
The earliest mention of Primitivo was in 1799 by the priest and amateur botanist Francesco Filippo Indellicati (1767-1831) from the Gioia del Colle municipality (Province of Bari) in the region Apulia, The latter discovered the rare vine in his vineyard. He noticed their early maturity at the end of August (which applies to the primitivo clone at the time), which is why he coined the name "Primativo" or "Primaticcio" from the Latin "primativus" for "first maturing". At that time it was named Zagarese (supposedly after the Croatian city of Zagreb). Indellicati planted the vine near his hometown, from where it spread to other Apulian areas until 1820. But it was only around 1860 that the current name Primitivo became established.
On a trip to Puglia in 1967, the American plant pathologist Austin Goheen noticed the similarity of primitivo wine to zinfandel wine. He took Primitivo vines to the United States for comparison. Based on his investigations based purely on external criteria, he assumed that Primitivo could be identical to the Zinfandel variety. He sent the vines to the University of California at Davis for more detailed analysis, where they were planted. There, the student Wade Wolf found very similar patterns in 1975 through isozyme analyzes (DNA analyzes did not exist at that time). This was perceived as a match in public and led to the beginning of the "battle over Zinfandel". Because in the United States they didn't want to admit that the Zinfandel variety, which was regarded as "very American", should not be independent.
Already in the 18th century it was assumed in Italy that Primitivo originated from Dalmatia (Croatia). In the mid-1970s Austin Goheen contacted Prof. Franco Lamberti at the University of Bari, who had visited Croatian vineyards together with Prof. Ana Sarić from the University of Zagreb. There Lamberti had great similarities between Croatian varieties called Plavac Mali and Plavina determined with Primitivo. Goheen then received Plavac-Mali vines from Sarić in 1979 and determined by means of isozymes analysis that the two varieties are not identical. Nevertheless, the rumor of a match spread and was also fed by Croatian producers who wanted to market their wines in the USA under Zinfandel. In 1985 the BATF banned the use of the name Zinfandel. The well-known Croatian winegrower Miljenko "Mike" Grgich (* 1923) therefore suggested that more detailed investigations should be carried out.
As mentioned above, Carole Meredith and colleagues had already determined that Primitivo and Zinfandel were the same in 1994 (as a result, from 1999 onwards, the EU officially permitted the synonym Zinfandel for Primitivo, the objection on the part of the responsible US authority BATF was rejected). Now the Plavac-Mali question should also be clarified. From 1998 onwards, around 150 vines of this variety were sent from Croatia to Meredith in California. In 2000 it was determined by DNA analysis that Plavac Mali is a direct descendant of Primitivo / Zinfandel. And four years later, Croatian vine specialists Ivan Pejić and Edi Maletić from the University of Zagreb became the second parent to become the Croatian variety Dobričić determined. Finally, in 2007 it was found in Croatia that the variety Plavina a cross between the Apulian Verdeca x Primitivo / Zinfandel originated. More close Parent-offspring relationships between at least four Croatian varieties and Primitivo / Zinfandel finally confirmed the Croatian origin.
In 2000, the identity of the Croatian original variety had not yet been clarified. A descendant (Plavac Mali) was known, but the vine in question as a parent (in addition to the Dobričić identified later) had not yet been found. If the variety actually came from here, there should still be vines as the ultimate proof. Of course, the variety could already be extinct. Ivan Pejić and Edi Maletić repeatedly sent suitable vines to California, which they found in old Dalmatian vineyards. Finally, in December 2001, success was finally found when an unknown vine was found in an old vineyard owned by the winemaker Ivica Radunić in Kastel Novi near Split. After the place of discovery, it received the name Crljenak Kaštelanski (red from Kaštela). The DNA profile was identical to Primitivo / Zinfandel. A further nine vines were later found.
In 2002, a genetically identical vine called Pribidrag was discovered in the garden of an old lady in the Svinisće community near Omis south of Split. And also in Montenegro Vine grown under the name Kratošija was recognized as identical in 2008. In 2006 was in a vineyard on the Badische Bergstrasse in Germany the variety previously used here Blue Scheuchner recovered. It is suspected that it is Tribidrag, but no DNA analysis has yet been carried out. The crowning glory finally came in 2011 when Ivan Pejić and Edi Maletić identified the ancient Croatian variety called Tribidrag, which had been cultivated in the Split region since the 15th century, as the original variety. Incidentally, as with the Primitivo, this name means "early ripening". The puzzle of the variety (s) was finally solved.
As already mentioned, Primitivo (Italy) is morphologically somewhat different from the more similar Tribidrag (Croatia) and Zinfandel (California). Primitivo ripens earlier, is more productive (but smaller berries) and less prone to Botrytis, The vine produces dark-colored, spicy, alcohol-rich red wines with aromas cinnamon Mint chocolate. cloves. pepper, Black cherries, blackberries and raspberries. In Italy a total of 12,234 hectares were designated under the Primitivo name in 2010. Here it is mainly in Apulia where they grown the three DOC red wines Falerno del Massico. Gioia del Colle and Primitivo di Manduria is allowed. In Croatia the variety was almost extinct. There has been a certain boom since identity clarification; 65 hectares were designated in 2010. There are further small stocks in Europe in France (in the Languedoc under Zinfandel), Montenegro (under the name Kratkošija) and Northern Macedonia,
In the United States a total of 19,857 hectares with increasing tendency were shown under the name Zinfandel used here in 2010 (ten years before it was 18,630 hectares). The vast majority of it is located in around 19,000 hectares California (See historical information regarding the U.S. launch at Zinfandel ). With smaller quantities almost exclusively under Zinfandel, it was also in 2010 Australia (149 ha), Chile (58 ha), Israel. Canada (8 ha), Mexico. New Zealand (4 ha), South Africa (34 ha) and Tunisia (337 ha) represented. The variety occupied a total of 32,745 hectares of vineyards under its various names in 2010. It lies in the worldwide varieties ranking at rank 29.
Source: Wine Grapes / J. Robinson, J. Harding, J. Vouillamoz / Penguin Books Ltd. 2012
Images: Ursula Brühl, Doris Schneider, Julius Kühn Institute (JKI)