Following our first afternoon of wine-tasting in northern Dalmatia, we spent a superb gourmet evening at BIBICh winery near Skradin. Winemaker Alen Bibich was on hand to guide us through the carefully created pairings of his wines, with wife Vesna’s gourmet creations. The whole effect is a sumptious extravaganza for all the senses. These feasts are world-famous, especially since Anthony Bourdain filmed one of his TV shows here. Now, as a veggie, I have to say at this point that it’s best to tell them any dietary restictions ahead of time, as everything is so carefully coordinated and planned. Last minute substitutions are not possible!
The winery is a short distance out of Skradin, it appears just as you’re beginning to doubt your instructions and the GPS! It’s a very stylish place, with lovely indoor and outdoor areas to accommodate any size of group. For the guided tasting, you have to book your time-slot in advance, although I see from the blackboard that they can take drop-ins for shorter pre-set tastes.
For our particular Degustacija tonight, we start with a lovely glass of sparkly Bibich Brut paired with smoked trout
The Debit 2015 is paired with tuna. Debit is a local variety, indigenous to the Šibenik-Skradin area. Aromas of fruit and slightly Sauvignon blanc-ish. Taste is grapefruit with bitter almond and a hint of saltiness.
The Pošip 2015 comes with fresh and fried prawns. Pošip grapes were planted in 1970 as an experiment. Pronounced orange colour. Herbs, Cypress, papaya, pineapple. Smooth oily. Sweet hint then acid then pineapple and grapefruit.
PS Pinot sivi (aka Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio) paired with cuttlefish cones. The cones are like crepe paper, made from cream of cuttlefish and the “caviar” are actually pellets made from cuttlefish ink. They look and taste amazing!
R5 2013 with black marinaded tuna. R5 is a blend of Chardonnay, Maraština, Debit and Pošip, each macerated and vinified separately, aged in barriques for 12 months before blending. The black tuna is a play on a traditional recipe of marinaded tuna on beluga (black) lentils on pickled black radish.
Maximilian Belo paired with pork & cuttlefish crisp. This is a joint venture with the Trošt winery in Slovenia, which is where Mrs Bibich comes from. Field blend of grapes from the Vipava valley, fermented in barriques. Lovely amber colour and full-bodied flavour. The pork & cuttlefish crisp is like a slightly chewy pork cracker
A little intermission to enjoy the gorgeous outside space as the sun goes down…
And here come the reds…
La Sin 2014 with veal tongue. La Sin 2014 is 100% local variety Lasin or Lasina from Ilinovac. Veal tongue is marinaded in horseradish, thyme, olive oil and cooked sous vide for 36 hours
R6 is a blend of Babić, Plavina and Lasina in roughly equal parts. It’s paired here with sliced pršut, cream of Pag cheese and magic olive juice ball.
Sangreal Shiraz 2013 with snail on the grass – an amazingly beautiful presentation of a ball of snail creamed in butter and parsley in in panko, with a quail egg and sweet paprika set on a bed of spinach cream with edible flowers. Too pretty to eat? The Shiraz has flavours of cherry, a hint of green pepper, spices, and smooth silky tannins
Staying with the Shiraz, we have a variation on the traditional Skradin risotto with veal and 24K edible gold!
Sangreal Merlot 2012 with deconstruction of dried & salt-cured pork roast. The merlot is aged 24 months in new French oak barriques, then 2 years in the bottle. Pomerol style – lovely hint of maraschino with spicy finish. Roasted molecular deconstruction of fermented pork, dried and salt-cured for up to 2 yrs. Really, the descriptions of the food preparation are getting more baffling as the evening wears on. Is it the alcohol or my Croatian coming adrift, I wonder?
Aleph 2010 with sliced buša beef in Nin sea salt aged in Siraz barrels and Krvavica olive oil. Buša are traditional local cattle that are small and half wild. Aleph evokes paradigms of beginning, and is a blend of 67% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, and 13% Cabernet Franc – gorgeous!
Bas de Bas crno 2013 with cheese and olive balls. The Bas de Bas is mostly (90%) Shiraz,with some Merlot and a little Plavina. The accompanying cheese balls containing olives arrived hanging off a bouqet of dried thorn branches. Such a creative presentation!
And finally Ambra, Bibich’s prošek served with an amazing dessert – a chocolate egg containing 7 different kinds of chocolate, which is then melted by pouring over hot vanilla cream. A beautifully impressive piece of culinary theatre to end with, not to mention absolutely delicious!
BIBICh wines are Blue Danube’s best-selling wines from Croatia. You can see why, not just because they are superb wines, but the marketing is skillfully done, and the wines appeal to international palettes. The labels allow for the unfamiliar grape varieties, and make them fun! All in all it’s a very impressive operation. Then why, why, why do they not have a website? To write an article about their wines you must visit the winery. Hmmm, is that all part of the strategy? Well, it certainly seems to work for them!
More wine from north Dalmatia…
Part 1: the wines of Birin and Gracin