Country Location: Croatia
“I like global sorts, but these are not local sorts, I work with what’s in my area Vrbić, Sansigot, Žlahtina these are the sorts I choose.” - Ivica Dobrinčić
The appellation. For thousands of years humans have relaxed on the Mediterranean island paradise of Krk and drank its wines. Once planted to 25000 hectare of vineyards, today there are just 250, the autochthonous white variety Žlahtina makes up 95% of this. Vigneron Ivica Dobrinčić, the biggest champion of the grape, is actively reintroducing other old local sorts to his vineyards, as historically Žlahtina is not the island’s only grape. Most of the vineyards on Krk are located inland from the medieval sea-cliff village of Vrbnik. The wild roses that dot the hills overlooking Vrbnik are locally known as Šipun. Three generations of Dobincic live in the family home/cellar amongst them. Ivica learned to make wine from his father, but he is the first in his family to make it commercially. Beginning in 03, the whole family helps in the business and Ivica is proud that one day, he will pass it onto his 4 sons. Proud he should be, his may be the lone world-class example Žlahtina and proof of the potential of the variety and region.
In the vineyards. East of Istria west of Continental Croatia and bisected by the 45th parallel, Krk is the largest of Croatia’s 1000+ islands. Its once bountiful vineyards have retreated to the temperate interior region where they are protected from the fierce Dalmatian winds known as “Bura”. Soils are a mixture of fertile brown forest soil and the pink Karst limestone the island is made of. Ivica farms 6 hectares, 3 are producing, commercially only Žlahtina. What Ivica praises about the variety is its difficulty in accumulating sugar. Even in very hot years the alcohol of Žlahtina modest.
In the cellar. Grapes are hand harvested and quickly transported to the nearby winery. After a final sorting they go through a special de-stemer designed to not crush the grapes or their seeds and pre-maturely oxidize the must. Fermentation with cultured yeast at controlled temperature is strictly monitored. Most of the wine ages in INOX, but a portion to later be blended back into the wine is aged in barrels of 4 different types of locally found wood. A new cellar is being built that will expand production to 60,000 bottles, but Ivica claims this is enough for him. “The new cellar will close this circle for my generation, if my children want to grow it bigger, that is their choice.”