The Zadar Wine Festival is already an important oenological event of Northern Dalmatia, and it is particularly interesting because of the series of autochthonous varieties of Zadar and Šibenik region. We went to try some new wine achievements, see the return of the old sorts and taste the imaginative ideas of Dalmatian winemakers.
Certainly, in the wine-making sense, the region of Ravni kotari is particularly interesting. This lowland, coastal and fertile area on the one hand is protected by the karstic Bukovica and Novigrad sea, and on the other it goes down to Zadar. Old olive groves, vineyards, meadows and orchards, pastures and gardens are once again returning the historical achievements of the Dalmatian landscape. For Ravni Kotari, a typical original variety of red grape Crljenak and of white grape is Maraština. There are also white varieties of debit and Pošiš, and reds Plavina, Lasina, Babić, Zadarka, Svrdlovina and Gegić, and here are also the Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Grenache Noir. There is also the Maraska/Maraška cherry, on the basis of which the famous Zadar Maraskino liqueur was created.
Debit is also called Bjelina, Čarapar, Debit Blanc, Bilina, Debić, Pagadebit, Puljižanac and is a late variety of white grapes. It is mainly grown in northern and central Dalmatia and inland Croatia. The stems are of medium size, golden yellow colour and medium or large clusters. Debit is mostly dry, fresh wine with lighter yellow colour, slightly acidic and full of aroma. In the past, it was differently made and had more yellow colour. Usually it has 11 to 13% of alcohol. Maraština (Rukatac, Maraškin, Mareština, Krizol, Višana) is considered an autochthonous Dalmatian variety. We can find it in the vineyards of Prevlaka all the way to the Croatian littoral, and more on the islands of Korčula, Lastovo and peninsula Pelješac. It served once to repair the quality of white wines and is still found in blends.
Plavina or plavka is a red grape variety grown in the vineyards of Dalmatia, but it is only in the vineyards of its subregions, Northern Dalmatia and Central and Southern Dalmatia, and in the subregion of the Croatian Littoral, among the recommended ones. The characteristic red wine produced from the Plavina sort is very suitable and harmonious, ruby red, discreet odour and mild acidity. There is also Lasina, an indigenous variety of northern Dalmatia, which is planted around Drniš, Knin, Ravni Kotar and Skradin, and is definitely the wine that returns, mostly in the blends.
The most famous wine destination of Ravni Kotar is Nadin, where traditional wine varieties are grown, as well as top newcomers. From Nadin, we met Vrsaljko winery. The brothers Mile and Željko are already widely known for their Nadinska rana, the specialty of this winery since 2010 is still a little known maraska wine! This is the work of the new generation, made by Marijan Vrsaljko, who is planting new maraska plants only for this wine under the brand Nedinum. Dark, with 14.8 per cent alcohol, has a specific smell of maraska cherry and slightly sweet taste. But not all of this festival was just wine, as the winery Fiolić also offered a liqueur from this cherished cherry.
The autochthonous wine sorts also are cared for in the Šibenik hinterland, around Skradin and Drniš. The Tošić Winery near Drniš is a centuries-old family tradition of Dalmatian karst wines, which presented their Plavina and Lasina in Zadar, two interesting Dalmatian red varieties. Their red cuvee is made of merlot, cabernet sauvignon, plavina and lasina, while the white combination of Debit and Maraština. The Sladić Winery from Skradin is also a family story that is held for generations within the borders of the Krka National Park and is also committed to keeping four local varieties - debit, maraština, plavina and lasina.
There were also some other well-known and lesser-known Northern Dalmatian winemakers. Vina Poljak from Zadar’s Diklo delivers wines of the Benkovac-Stankovo vineyard with the already recognizable brand Trifun. Matošin came with the recognizable new wave of Šibenik Babić, while the imaginative winery of Bora showed all the skill of the winemaking under the powerful winds of Velebit. The Degarra winery is steady in its performance at the Zadar wine scene, while Boškinac delighted with its wines from the Pag island.