Wine Review: Bibich 2015 Debit

Text and photos © 2016 Cliff Rames

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Debit, a white variety native to Croatia’s Dalmatian coast between the cities of Šibenik and Zadar, was once considered a workhorse grape of great proficiency, so much so (the story goes) it gained its nom de plume during the Napoleonic Era when Dalmatian land owners would barter and pay off their tax debts with their crop instead of coin. This was possible because debit, when unmanaged in the vineyard and left to its own devices, will produce high yields (and consequently simple, one-dimensional wine). So, debit’s proficiency and reliability  served the locals well during the Napoleonic era–and later through the 20th century during Croatia’s time as one of the republics in Yugoslavia, when Socialist-style cooperatives demanded quantity over quality.

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An American Master Sommelier in Croatia

An exclusive interview with Fred Dexheimer, MS

In September 2015, Fred Dexheimer, one of only 230 Master Sommeliers in the world, visited Croatia and spent four days touring the Dalmatia and Istria wine regions. Wines of Croatia recently caught up with Fred (who moves very fast!) for an exclusive interview, in which he reveals his impressions of the trip and expert opinions on the wines he tasted.

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USA Today: The #5 “Best Wine Region to Visit” is Croatia

(Photo: Copyright © Cliff Rames)
(Photo: Copyright © Cliff Rames)

Okay, we already knew it. Anthony Bourdain discovered it (literally, he fell off his chair in wine-fueled amazement). And now the readers of USA Today have confirmed it: the wine-growing regions of Croatia are awesome – among the best in the world.

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Croatia’s 2014 Dalmacija Wine Expo: Three Things I Learned

By Cliff Rames © 2014

Sensory overload. That is how I would describe any one of my whirlwind visits to Croatia.

I mean it in a positive way. The country is simply brimming with vinous, culinary and natural delights. Gnarly old grapevines improbably clinging to sun baked seaside slopes. Nearly 1,200 islands sprinkled like seashells on the impossibly blue Adriatic. Countless villages and hamlets of seminal charm nestled in coves and on mountainsides. Fresh caught seafood and farm-to-table produce so succulent and cooked to perfection. The warm faces of family, old friends and new acquaintances (and an occasional donkey).  Swoon-worthy views and secret spots where you can enjoy the sights and sounds of nature that – to this New York City boy – are so intimate, pure and wonderful.

Dingač (Photo © Cliff Rames)
Dingač (Photo © Cliff Rames)

And then there is the wine. Indigenous grapes, local producers. Most of it delicious and distinct. So this is what all this beauty… this land…this Croatia tastes like, you may be inspired to declare.

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Savor This: Croatian Food & Wine Featured in Saveur Magazine!

Just when daydreams of summer sailing, bathing in the crystal waters of the Adriatic Sea, and feasting on fresh fish in a favorite island café seem within reach, Saveur magazine has devoted its entire April 2014 issue (#164) to seafood, with seven full-color, mouth-watering pages about Croatia’s coastal food and wine culture.

Saveaur April 2014

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Sunday Snapshot: BIBICh Lučica Vineyard, Skradin

High in the stoney hills above Skradin in northern Dalmatia and just off the road to BIBICh winery in Plastovo village, there is a rustic tractor path that snakes through a scrubby patch of grey oak and olive trees overgrown with nettles, spiny broom, and juniper bushes. If you trudge down this unassuming path, you will emerge into an open area and be rewarded with a tantalizing and exciting sight: the gnarly vines of Lučica.

Lučica is one of winemaker Alen Bibic’s most interesting and unique vineyards. Here about 3,500 Debit vines – most of which are about 50 years old and were planted by Alen’s grandfather – struggle in the summer heat to each produce only a cluster or two of wine grapes, enough fruit for just 150-200 cases of wine a year.

This rare treat is fermented and aged in American oak barrels and the result is an intriguing white – almost orange – wine with a slightly tannic grip and lovely dried apricot, honey, and vanilla notes that finishes with a Sherry-like sea salt savoriness. A distinctive and delicious expression of Debit, one of Dalmatia’s many fascinating native grape varieties! 🙂

BIBICh Lučica vineyard (Copyright © Cliff Rames)
BIBICh Lučica vineyard (Copyright © Cliff Rames)