Crljenak Kaštelanski — Discovering Zinfandel’s Croatian Roots

Mrcevlje vineyard

The Mrčevlje vineyard above the village of Cavtat where the Dubrovački Crljenak Kaštelanski grows.

It is a very exciting time to be a student of wine. DNA fingerprinting has led to many new discoveries about grape varietals, in particular identifying genetic relationships. One such discovery was made in 2001 by University of Davis professor, Carole Meredith. After hearing suggestions that Zinfandel may be related to a Croatian grape, Meredith went to Croatia to collect samples. What she found is that Zinfandel is actually an indigenous Croatian varietal referred to locally as Crljenak Kaštelanski. Other than California, the grape is cultivated extensively in Italy, going by the name Primitivo. Read the full story of how the Original Zinfandel was found in Croatia: here.

Dubrovački Harvest

It has been a long time since we have had a Crljenak Kaštelanski (CK for short) also known as Tribidrag in our portfolio. Many of you sent requests and inquiries so we are pleased to introduce the 2012 Dubrovački Podrumi Crljenak (Zinfandel). Dubrovački Podrumi was founded in 1877 by Kolić Pero, a wine merchant. After World War II, the winery became a state-run operation. In 2000, the winery was bought by local entrepreneurs who revitalized the winemaking program and planted new vineyards.


The winery is now comprised of 30 hectares. old vine Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot as well as 12 hectares new vineyards planted in the Konavle Valley. CK was planted in 2007 along with small quantities of other local varieties.

The wine shows a bright red color and exhibits aromas of red berries on the nose. The palate has lots of crushed tart cassis and a finish of dried herbs. Try it with a tomato-based dish like Capellini and Tomatoes and Basil.