When it comes to wine production, Croatia may not be the first country that comes to mind. However, Croatia has a rich history of winemaking, with many unique wine varieties that are not commonly known outside of the country. One such variety is Crljenak Kaštelanski, which is believed to be the ancestor of the popular red wine grape, Zinfandel. The story of Crljenak Kaštelanski is a fascinating mystery that showcases Croatia’s contribution to the world of wine.
The History of Crljenak Kaštelanski
Crljenak Kaštelanski, also known as Tribidrag, is an ancient grape variety that has been grown in Croatia for centuries. However, it wasn’t until the late 20th century that its true identity was discovered. In the early 1990s, researchers from the University of California, Davis, led by Dr. Carole Meredith, began studying the origins of Zinfandel. Through DNA testing, they discovered that Zinfandel was genetically identical to Crljenak Kaštelanski.
The Connection to California
The discovery of the genetic link between Crljenak Kaštelanski and Zinfandel had significant implications for the wine industry. Zinfandel is one of the most popular wine varieties in California, known for its bold flavors and rich aromas. Before the discovery, it was widely believed that Zinfandel was a native grape variety of California. However, the DNA testing proved that Zinfandel had its origins in Croatia.
The Spread of Crljenak Kaštelanski
After the discovery, Crljenak Kaštelanski gained international recognition and started to be planted in other wine regions around the world. Today, you can find Crljenak Kaštelanski plantings in countries such as Italy, Slovenia, and Montenegro. However, it remains most closely associated with its Croatian origins.
The Characteristics of Crljenak Kaštelanski
Crljenak Kaštelanski is a red wine grape variety that thrives in Croatia’s Mediterranean climate. It produces medium to full-bodied wines with high levels of acidity and moderate tannins. The wines made from Crljenak Kaštelanski are known for their rich, dark fruit flavors, including blackberry, cherry, and plum. They often have a spicy, peppery undertone and can age beautifully.
Exploring Croatian Wine
While Crljenak Kaštelanski may be one of Croatia’s most famous wine varieties, it is just one example of the country’s diverse and unique winemaking traditions. Croatia is home to a wide range of indigenous grape varieties, each with its own distinct characteristics. From the crisp and refreshing white wines of Istria to the full-bodied reds of Dalmatia, Croatian wine has a lot to offer.
If you are a wine enthusiast looking to expand your horizons, consider exploring the wines of Croatia. You may be pleasantly surprised by the quality and diversity of the wines produced in this small but vibrant wine region.