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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 603: VIII International Conference on Grape Genetics and Breeding

THE IDENTIFICATION OF ZINFANDEL ON THE DALMATIAN COAST OF CROATIA

Authors:   E. Maletic, I. Pejic, J. Karoglan Kontic, J. Piljac, G. Dangl, A. Vokurka, T. Lacombe, N. Miroševic, C. Meredith
Keywords:   microsatellite, SSR, DNA profiling, variety identification, Crljenak kastelanski, Primitivo, Zinfandel
Abstract:
Zinfandel is one of the most important wine cultivars in the United States. Although a European origin has long been presumed, Zinfandel was not known to exist anywhere in Europe until about thirty years ago, when it was discovered that Primitivo in southern Italy was the same cultivar. However, the history of Primitivo in Italy is relatively short and it was obviously introduced from another place. The important Dalmatian cultivar Plavac mali was suspected to be closely related to Zinfandel. The SSR genotype of Plavac mali accessions in the Davis collection, however, was not the same as that of Zinfandel. A further 150 samples of Plavac mali collected from vineyards at various locations on the Dalmatian mainland and coastal islands were found to be of the same genotype as the Davis accessions. Analysis with 25 SSR markers revealed that Zinfandel and Plavac mali share at least one allele at every locus, suggesting a parent progeny relationship. The relationship was clarified when the rare Dalmatian cultivar Dobričić was found, as part of a larger program to characterize and preserve autochthonous Croatian cultivars. SSR genotypes at 25 loci, followed by likelihood analysis, show that Zinfandel and Dobričić are the parents of Plavac mali. The close relationship of Zinfandel to Plavac mali, Dobričić and several other Dalmatian cultivars supports a Croatian origin for Zinfandel but, even after two years of prospecting in vineyards along the Dalmatian coast, it still was not found in Croatia. In the third year, a vine strongly resembling Zinfandel was found in a mixed vineyard in Kaštela, a coastal town near the city of Split. SSR analysis with 10 markers revealed that this vine, subsequently determined to be the rare cultivar Crljenak kastelanski, has the same SSR profile as Zinfandel. Crljenak kastelanski is almost extinct in Croatia. Several vines have now been found but only in mixed plantings with other varieties. The search for more extensive plantings of Crljenak kastelanski is continuing along the coast and coastal islands. Viticultural and enological comparisons of Crljenak kastelanski, Zinfandel and Primitivo are being planned.
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