You may think, ‘what, Croatian wine? Really?’ And the answer would be, ‘Yes, Croatian wine. Definitely.’ Wine-making is a long-standing tradition there just like everywhere else in Europe. The wines can differ from aromatic whites in the North like those you’d find in Austria to deep, fruity reds on the coast, similar to those you may find in Italy. In fact, winemaking in the area dates back to the 5th Century B.C. during the time of the ancient Greeks. There is even evidence to show that they were making wine in Dalmatia during the Bronze and Iron Ages!
There is also a school of thought which believes that Zinfandel originated in Croatia. Mike Grgich, a very well-known winemaker in Napa, and a native Croatian is part of this school. He has argued that what we know today as Zinfandel is a descendant of the Plavac Mali grape of his homeland. DNA testing has proved that he may just be right, which makes sense to me; the Croatian coast with its Mediterranean climate and mountain ranges is not far off from the wine regions where Zinfandel flourishes in California.
The Bibich Winery is located in the town of Skradin in Northern Dalmatia. The 2006 Bibich Riserva is a blend of the grapes Babich, Plavina and Lasin, three grapes that are also thought to be descendants of Zinfandel. They only make 2000 cases of this wine which they age for one year in American Oak before bottling. It is a lighter wine, which looks like a more purple Pinot Noir in the glass. The bouquet is earthy and exotic with dusty, dark grape and candied fruit aromas. On the palate it is light bodied, with very subtle fruit and dry leathery notes. It is a fascinating wine, and perfect for lighter fair when you want to stick with red but you are itching to try something very different.