The western coast of Dalmatia - a narrow region of Croatia that hugs the Adriatic Sea - is where Josipa and Neno Marinov make wines that could not be made anywhere else, by anyone else. Kreso Petrekovic, our rep at Zev Rovine Selections, told us “If you go to [@zevrovineselections] instagram you will see the insane premium vineyards that are the hardest to work I have seen [in the region], and to me maybe some of the best appellations in the world can be challenged here.” The soils contribute to the difficulty of tending these vines - the notoriously recalcitrant karst of the mediterranean constitutes the grapevines’ meager feed. But from such difficulty - as we’ve seen elsewhere in the world of natural wine - comes something truly special. Babic has a history as a grape tended toward overplanting in this area of Northern Dalmatia and subsequently was an overlooked variety for so long, given to blending and diluting (adding water) as in the case of the local afternoon drink Bevanda. However, with the weakly fertile karst soil (limestone/dolomite residue underneath - a soil type characterized by the previous dissolution of these more precious geologic minerals) the vines produce less fruit, are given to imbue the few fruit that they produce with much higher quality, more sugar, concentration, depth, complexity - where science meets alchemy. It is a pristine and clear example of the mystery of wine, especially of natural wine, one that prioritizes - perhaps contradictorily though we posit harmoniously - tradition and curiosity and experimentation and minimal human intervention. If we are not averse to the fear of sounding cliché’s alarm bells, then we think of Whitman’s musing on complexity, imagined from the pov of the Babic grape itself (please bear with us!): “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.” A true, eager, (large and multitudinous!) delight.
Vinification: 100% Babic hand-harvested from 25-70 year-old vines grown in karst (limestone, dolomite, red-clay subsoil) soil. The grapes undergo a 6-day maceration and spontaneous fermentation with only the help of native yeasts in stainless steel tank. The wine ages for 9 months in tank and is unfined, unfiltered, and sees 10-20mg/L (though has measured at 0) of SO2 at bottling.
Tasting Notes: Light bodied and pale red in the glass. Burning mesquite timber and balsamic on the nose. On the palate, strong rocky minerality and light chalky tannins mingle with a savory element, like artichoke or summer tomatoes. Serve slightly below room temp alongside burgers or grilled veggie kebabs.