DNA experts say Primitivo and Zinfandel are the same
For years Italian and Californian winemakers argued whether primitivo or zinfandel was the better grape. Imagine their chagrin, then, when DNA experts concluded they are, in effect, the same – or, to be technically correct, probably clones of an obscure Croatian grape.
There is still room for debate, though, as even DNA evidence will not make the wines identical. Factors such as latitude, terroir and, of course, what exactly the winemaker does will make sure of that. Think, for example, of the way the same grape produces both chablis and the traditional blockbuster chardonnays of Australia.
Primitivo and zinfandel are, however, pretty similar – though the former tends to ripen earlier (which is where the ‘primo’ part comes from), and that can help to keep alcohol levels a little lower. Climate also plays a part in zinfandel’s extra ripeness (and, hence, higher sugar levels and consequent alcohol). Although the traditional home of primitivo, in the heel of Italy, has the higher average summer temperatures, California tends to have more hours of sunshine and less rain.
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