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In working with Vitis and other sources I have periodically encountered ambiguous or questionable relationships between cultivar and prime names. As I hope I have explained elsewhere, this is very much to be expected since much of the data being collected is anecdotal or traditional, not rigorously scientific. There is a huge amount of work to do to sort through all the sources, determine what is most reasonable, and, when necessary, to subject to DNA testing.

However, since encountering ambiguity is one of those things that can easily make one confused, I have created this page to provide a reference to issues which I have identified so that people who encounter them can have a place to check and verify that it is a known ambiguity. If others encounter new ones, as I am sure they will, I will happily add them here to create a more comprehensive resource. As ambiguities are resolved, they will get reported here.

Unless otherwise noted, the issues below relate to data in the Vitis database. The typical pattern to which they relate is that wine A as a cultivar name will point to both A (i.e., blank) and B as prime names and wine B as a cultivar name will point to both B (blank) and A. Thus, we have a circular reference. I should note that it is fairly common to have half of this pattern, i.e., that a given cultivar name can be either a prime name in its own right or another prime name. In some cases there are differences in berry color or country of origin to explain this pattern and sometimes there isn't.

I am not including here any patterns in which a cultivar name is not easily resolved to a prime name because there are just too many of those. Perhaps later I will consider creating some discussions on another page about how one might make such distinctions in specific cases, but for the purposes of the current list, I am only including cases where there is a circularity of some kind, i.e., the appearance of an error. I have discussed some of these with the people at Vitis and they have explained that the "error" is intentional since it best represents the current state of knowledge. I.e., it isn't known which is prime or exactly what classification is appropriate.

In the following, "points to" means that a cultivar name "points to" a prime name.

  • Rabigato points to Rabo de Ovelha and vice versa. Neither points to itself as is typical.
  • President has one entry for which every field other than the cultivar name is blank and another entry in which the prime name is blank, but species, berry color, and country of origin are provided. Vitis has clarified that the first one is actually President Carnot, a French V. vinefera from Oberlin, Colmar.
  • Arinto de Bucelas points to Arintho and vice-versa.
  • Gouveio points to Gouveio Real and vice-versa.
  • Syrah is shown as pointing to both itself and to Durif, but it is Petite Syrah which is considered the same as Durif and this is known to not be the same grape as Syrah. This would appear to be an error, but it might simply reflect old data before this relationship was clarified.
  • Alvarelhão points to itself and Brancellao points to itself and to Alvarelhão.
  • Sangiovese points to Brunello di Montalcino among others and Brunello di Montalcino points back to Sangiovese.
  • Cynthiana points to Norton and vice-versa.
  • Pignul points to Pignolo and vice-versa.
  • Boutignon points to Pardotte and vice-versa.
  • Tihany Kek points to Szekszardi which points to itself and to Szerdi. Tihanyi Kek points to Szerdi. Possibly not ambiguous, but needs checking.
  • Verdello points to Breval and vice-versa.
  • Almeria points to Ohanes and vice-versa.
  • Lungyan points to Ryugan and vice-versa.

Note, there are also cases where cultivar name A points to prime name B and cultivar name B points both to itself and to other prime names. The assumption is that A is a synonym for the version of B which is a prime name. Thus, this is not ambiguous.

Also, there are quite a few cases where the same cultivar name and prime name (often the same) is listed more than once with a different berry color, sometimes with a different country of origin and sometimes with the same country of origin. It is presumed that these are genuinely different grapes which are simply not provided with different names because of local tradition.