19-10-2011

Vina Bibich: The wines of Bibich

With a recent visit from Anthony Bourdain & No Reservations, Bibich is a name (not to be confused with Babić or Babich) that is getting the attention it deserves. Oddly though, the wines that winemaker Alen Bibich produces don’t seem to be well received by some domestic wine critics in Croatia, earning a most undeserved two out of four stars from one a national wine reviewer. We would argue that not only is the rating ludicrous, but that he is one of the finest winemakers in Dalmatia.

Based in Skradin (about an hour from Zadar), the Bibich wines tend to lean more towards New World characteristics (bold and strong qualities), which always comes as a surprise for those tasting them for the first time. The staple vintages of Debit and the Riserva R6 (a blend of Plavina, Lasin and Babić) are great, food-centric wines. On the higher end, his Mantra is a heavenly Grenache, which along with his growing of Shiraz for his Sangreal again makes him a really different winemaker, as these varietals are simply not grown in the area, or barely. Shiraz is now being planted in greater amounts in Croatia, as winemakers are realizing that it is not only a hearty, easy to grow grape, but it also has great color and blends with other wines very well to enhance appearance.

Although all his reds are outstanding, one of the most stellar wines from Bibich is a white called, Lučica. It is very hard to come by, since it is made from some of Alen’s oldest vines that yield just enough grapes for about 2,400 bottles each year. It’s a wine that’s even great for red lovers with strong, well-structured tannins in the body. It makes you stand back and take notice due to its luscious honey aromas and flavors to the nose and body.

The 2009 Debit, although a much lighter wine, has more acidity and tannins to make it pair very well with food. It presents crisp green apple undertones to the body. These elements are slightly similar to the 2008 R5 Riserva which is a blend of Debit, Pošip, Maraština, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay which has 12.5% alcohol. It takes on different dimensions due to 12 months in oak. Overall it’s quite neutral, but with a pear nose and slight vanilla aspects to the body. As with the Debit, it will pair extremely well with foods.

His 2008 G6 Grenache is from old vines that are more to the north which were maintained over the years by viticulture students and eventually bought by Bibich. In turn they give the wine a lustrous, dark quality. The nose is full of spicy cinnamon and cloves while the body is balanced with shortbread aspects to it and chocolate tones that come out. The finish has great tobacco flavors and it gets quite plush the more it breaths. A very pleasant wine that is considerably less dry than the name would lead on. 13% alcohol.

You can also read our past tasting notes on the 2004 Sangreal Merlot if you want to get an even broader sense of his offer.

If one is in Croatia, it can be hard to find the Bibich wines outside of Zadar. However, Alen has teamed up with a business partner to run a small restaurant and bar called Alante (Alen and Ante) in the old town of Skradin, about an hour south of Zadar. Skradin is where Bibich cellars are based and a lovely town near the coast worth a visit. As if the town wasn’t enough of a draw on its own, the restaurant serves great dishes that pair well with all the Bibich wines that they both pour and sell there.

We talk a great deal more about the wines of Bibich as well as the other Croatian wineries in our Dalmatian wine guide.