Few things give me as much pleasure with wine as constantly looking beyond my own nose. This can be new grape varieties, grape varieties that I actually do not like to drink, wine styles that I have neglected or disliked and, of course, new growing regions for me. And Croatia as a wine country is completely off my radar, although viticulture here has a long tradition dating back to before Roman times. And we’re killing two birds with one stone, since I feel the same way about the Babić grape variety. But this is the rule rather than the exception with autochthonous grape varieties, and Babić is exactly such a variety. Today’s wine comes from Dalmatia in the south of Croatia, which most people think of as a vacation region rather than a wine-growing region. The vineyards are located here on the Adriatic coast under the influence of the Mediterranean Sea on very stony and meager soils. Vinas Mora, founded only in 2020, is a cooperative winery whose members cultivate vines very elaborately right here. The vines stand as bush vines in very small plots between dry stone walls. Since rain is basically scarce here from spring to fall, the vines have to root deeply to get water. At the same time, of course, this makes the fight against moisture-loving molds much easier. Normally, my wallet and I are friends of starting the journey of discovery from the bottom of the range, but today we do it the other way around and I reached for the top shelf with the Kaamen III. The vines for the wine are partly over 100 years old and are processed completely by hand. After a maceration period of a few days, a good half of the wine is aged in used wooden barrels, the rest in innert carbon fiber tanks. Bottling is then done without filtering or fining with a bit of sulfur added.
The wine starts off scrubby on the nose and scratchy in a pleasant way. It reminds me a bit of Cabernet Franc in the way how it feels in the nose. Then slowly more and more fruit comes in, there’s blackberry, blueberry, cassis and a few herbs. The wild and unadjusted always remains there, along with a portion of stone. This is super exciting and except for the to me fitting comparison to red wine from the Loire region in how it feels, I have a hard time finding something to compare it to in my memory. On the tongue the wine really packs a punch, the tannin scratches a bit from the inside of the cheeks but then is picked up and released by so much juiciness that I’m not even sure if you should wait until time has rounded out the tannins. Because as it is right now, this is way too good not to drink.
Overnight, it all becomes even more complex. There is a bit of strawberry and lactic added. Almost a bit in the direction of kimchi, further the dark berries, cola fruit gum and a bit of smoke. The tannin has softened considerably while retaining a bit of scratchiness. This has power and you can feel it on the tongue and cheeks and you either have to go for it and embrace that feeling or try it with more air and alternatively more time in the cellar. I like this a lot. That rustic elegance, what you would call quaint in old pubs, that charm and challenge that the wine gives you with each sip only to juicily say again that Everything will be fine. That’s pretty good. And yes, just under 50 euros is quite a lot of money for a bottle of wine and then also from a super new winery from Croatia. I have not yet tasted the levels below, so I can not say how these beat in comparison, but I have also never had the feeling over the two days that that would now be too expensive for what I have here in the glass.