If you ask people in Croatia which is the most valuable Croatian indigenous red wine variety, most people will say “plavac mali” without much thought. Most people, but not the ones from the Dalmatian inland, especially around Šibenik. They will always put babić first, the variety that has been growing in their region for ages, and that has recently gained a lot of recognition, as the winegrowers and winemakers started putting a lot of effort into bringing the best possible wines from this variety.
One of such winemakers working really hard on the quality and branding of babić is Birin winery, located in the Šibenik region, in inland Dalmatia, in a sub-region of Promina. That region is the home of babić, and the winemakers there are trying to brand the region as well, as the one where the best babić wines are coming from. Birin winery has dedicated themselves exclusively to the wine varieties indigenous to the Šibenik region: debit, maraština (the whites), plavina, lasin and of course, babić (the reds). It’s quite a young winery, open in 2012, and its run by Nikola Birin, a very young and innovative winemaker. They own some vineyards near Vodice, but they also buy some grapes from other growers, producing around 15000 litres of wine each year. The winery has received many medals and awards, and one of their greatest accomplishments is the fact that their wines are offered in Pelegrini, Šibenik restaurant almost always listed among the best Croatian restaurants (except on Michelin list!), where they are often paired with their original seafood dishes.
Their debit has the best characteristics of the variety: it is a light and fresh summer wine, with interesting pale yellow colour, quite low alcohol, citrusy with hints of herbs – it is considered to be the perfect wine for hot weather!
Maraština is quite elegant, fruity with perfect acids (not easy to achieve with this variety!) and just mineral enough. It was kept on lees for three months and that has created a complex wine, which goes perfectly with seafood dishes.
Birin winery also makes a lovely light, floral Rose, a blend of lasin and plavina grapes, much lighter than the traditional Dalmatian Opol rose wine but with perfect balance of acidity and aromas.
Their most important wine, the one with most awards is their babić, fruity and aromatic, well balanced and not as heavy as some babić wines can be, with wonderful deep ruby red colour and probably one of the best reds to have with seafood.
Feel free to visit their winery in the industrial zone in Vodice, where you’ll have the chance to taste their wines and fall in love with some of those indigenous varieties of the region.