Deciphering the DNA of Pisco Grapes

Pisco has captivated connoisseurs around the world with its rich history and diverse flavors. At the heart of this beloved spirit lies the DNA of pisco grapes, a topic that has fascinated specialists and enthusiasts alike. In this blog post, we embark on a journey to explore the genetic makeup of pisco grapes and the intriguing complexities that surround them.

The Ever-Evolving World of Pisco Grape DNA: In our first version of the Pisco Certificate course back in 2020, we delved into the intricate genealogy of pisco grapes, referencing the work of Jorge Jiménez, who drew from research conducted by Jorge Llanos and Jancis Robinson, among others. We even shared a family tree of pisco grapes created by Nico Vera based on this knowledge.

Since then, additional specialists such as Amanda Barnes, Karl Mendoza, and their teams have unearthed new findings about the DNA of pisco grapes, adding fascinating layers to the narrative. As you can see in the image (click to zoom), some of their research is conflicting. The question is why.Grapes Pisco DNA

The Complexity of Pisco Grape Evolution: The complexities surrounding pisco grape DNA are as multifaceted as the grapevines themselves. Here are some key factors contributing to the contradictory information:

  1. Constant Evolution: Pisco grapes are agricultural products, and the grapevines are in a state of constant change. These vines can cross-pollinate through various means like wind, insects, and self-pollination. Over centuries, the grape varieties originally brought from Spain have naturally crossbred, giving rise to the intriguing diversity we see today.
  2. Unidentified Cultivars: Another challenge is the presence of unidentified and unnamed grape cultivars in Peru. These unique and unclassified varieties add an element of mystery to the DNA puzzle.

What We Can Assume to be True: Based on the confirmed findings of prominent researchers, some aspects of pisco grape DNA seem more certain. We can assume that:

  1. Quebranta is a cross between the Mollar grape and Negra Criolla, representing Peru’s only indigenous vinifera variety.
  2. Negra Criolla is a synonym for Listán Prieto, the first grape variety planted in Peru.
  3. Mollar has DNA similarities with other grapes with similar names, though the exact match varies.
  4. Uvina is a hybrid grape, formed by the crossing of vitis vinifera and vitis aestivalis.

Outlining the Discrepancies: However, discrepancies persist in the pisco grape DNA narrative:

  1. The origins of the Italia grape remain widely disputed.
  2. Torontel is another grape with differing views on its lineage.
  3. Palomino Fino, associated with Sherry production in Spain, presents contrasting interpretations.
  4. Moscatel remains one of the most mysterious grapes in the pisco world.

A Complicated Subject Indeed: Despite differing opinions among researchers, they all agree on one thing: the DNA of pisco grapes is an exceptionally intricate subject. As Karl Mendoza’s research aptly puts it, “Within the genetic resource of each region, several synonyms and homonyms remain to be clarified… making it difficult to assess the value of a given cultivar in a region.”

Conclusion: So, as we navigate this world of complex pisco grape DNA, we invite you to embark on your own exploration. Draw your conclusions, conduct your research, and most importantly, savor the diverse origins of Peru’s beloved pisco grapes.

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