Tribidrag is the most ancient name of a varietal that went on to have a few others: Crljenak Kaštelanski, Primitivo and Zinfandel, to name a few. Tribidrag was favored by the local Croatian nobility at least as far back as the 15th century, but why it fell out of favor in its own region is not known. Also unknown is how the grape made its way to the United States and acquired the name Zinfandel, nor how it found its way to Puglia, Italy. What we do know is that Zinfandel and Primitivo both are clones of the same original Tribidrag plant that originated in Croatia. Clones is a bit of a misnomer, however, as, technically, each time a cutting is taken from a mother plant or its progeny and grafted onto an existing rootstock or simply stuck in the ground to grow into a new plant, which is how all wine grapes are propagated, the resulting plants are clones. In common usage in the wine business, though, a clone implies a mutation of the original plant that gives a significant potential benefit to the winegrower. As grapes are particularly prone to mutations, especially ancient varietals, there are a multitude of clones and subclones grown. The Swan, Calera, Mt. Eden, and Dijon clones are just a few clones of Pinot Noir, and there are even hundreds of subclones of the Dijon clone. To further complicate matters, if a clone has enough of a degree of differentiation it is considered a separate varietal, as is the case with grapes such as Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Meunier, all of which are clones of Pinot Noir with very significant mutations. To bring the discussion back to Tribidrag, the degree of difference between the clones currently being propagated in Croatia and the Zinfandel clones in California are only just being explored. Teasing out which differences in growing characteristics and flavor are the result of the particular mutations of the clones versus the result of terroir is difficult. For instance, Super Tuscan wines may use the exact same clones as a winery in Bordeaux, but wine from Italy made with Bordeaux grapes will, in my experience, taste Italian. Conversely, the Californian Cabernet Sauvignons and Chardonnays, were thought to be French by the expert French tasters in the 1976 Judgment of Paris. Wineries in Croatia are experimenting with Zinfandel and vice versa. Those wines aren’t yet available here, but this fascinating example of local clones of Tribidrag from Croatia is similar to Zinfandel (and quite delicious) yet quite distinct. Whether Zinfandel may have been in America long enough to mutate significantly enough to justify the TTB’s prohibition on using Tribidrag or Primitivo on wines labeled as Zinfandel, you can decide for yourself. In any event, the grapes for this wine were grown organically in the locally famous Basina vineyard and fermented with ambient yeasts by Antonia and Niko Bura, the 13th and 14th generation of Bura Mrgudic winery, to give a true translation of the Dalmation Coast terroir.