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Zinfandel: The Search is Over!

Zinfandel from Seghesio Family Vineyards in Sonoma County, California

The search is over. At least for the origin of the Zinfandel wine grape...and it's not made in the US or Italy (primitivo) but in Croatia. We remember Mike Grgich telling us: "that grape look no further, it come from my country." Well he was almost right. The origin is Croatia but Mike was talking about the plavac mali, a grape varietal that descends from the newly identified crljenak kastelanski. Dr. Carole Meredith, a professor and geneticist at the University of California at Davis, is in cahoots with Croatian researchers from the University of Zagreb, Dr. Ivan Pejic and Dr. Edi Maletic, and they are proud of the discovery. This search had been going on for several years and, thanks to improvement in DNA profiling, the culprit has finally been identified.

The origin of wine grapes is fascinating (the Stoty). We acclaim Meredith's work for solving the Zin puzzle and identifying others in the past, including Cabernet, Chardonnay and Syrah. Though she's retiring from the university, she and her husband will continue producing Syrah from their winery, Lagier-Meredith. In any case, just like most other of life's basics—like pasta, sauerkraut, the compass and gunpowder—they were all brought to us by the Chinese: we recently had a Cab from the Yantai province: The Great Wall. It was not as great as its namesake wonder but look out-we hear of a couple interesting projects coming from "very old country." Back in the US, we've had Zins from Texas and New Mexico, two of the ancient wine-growing states, but nothing to write home about.

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