When talking about combining modern and traditional, there is no better example in Šibenik region then Vodice. A small place only 8km away from Šibenik that has managed to keep his authenticity and combine it with modern day life – just like the star of our blog, Nikola Birin.
Although young, Nikola Birin is the guy with the thrive and knowledge for vines. In 2004 he graduated from the Faculty of Agriculture in Zagreb and after that he was a student of Leo Gracin, a wine maker from Primošten, Suha Punta winery. Equipped with the knowledge that he needed, 5 years ago, in the hinterland of Vodice, Nikola Birin decided to open his own winery.
The Birin winery builded its way up combining tradition and modern technology both in wine growing and wine making. Today Nikola has 5 acres of vineyards on which he grows 5 different indigenous varieties of wine grapes – Debit and Maraština as authentic white grapes and Babić, Plavina and Lasin that are black grapes, used to make wines of the same names.
Our visit to Birin winery was very welcoming and hopefully I can transfer a taste of Nikola’s wines on the paper as credible as it was there. We started our wine tasting with a huge success of one indigenous grape sort called Debit.
Debit is a white wine made out of the indigenous sort of grape, authentic for Vodice area, that has the same name. Perfect for seafood, white meat or something simple like noble cheeses, Debit is a wine of a straw yellow colour and a pleasant fruit smell with a hint of Dalmatian spices, sour but full of flavour and it can be perfectly blended with sparkling water in the famous spritzer. Perfect wine for hot summer afternoons and evening, easy to drink and light on the tongue.
One of the most special white wines in dalmatia is definitely Maraština. Maraština is one of the most indigenous grape variety in Šibenik area and DNA analysis has shown that Maraština is closely related to the Italian variety Malvasia del Chianti. It has extremely low acidity which makes it difficult to sustain, which creates a small problem to our wine makers. But Nikola is sucesfully fighting that. Once, during the World War II it was produced as rose wine, but now it’s mastered to be a top quality white wine. Birin’s Maraština is greenish yellow to golden yellow in color and rich with fruit smells. It fits perfectly with Dalmatian peka, grill or even seafood.
The latest success for Nikola is a wine that I think is an excellent and evoked vision of the Mediterranean life – Rose from Birin winery. Thanks to a new generation of wine makers and consumers like him, Dalmatia is quickly becoming a source of pleasing, well-made and food-friendly roses made from indigenous varieties such as Babić, Plavina and Lasin. Nikola managed to get an aromatic, soft and smooth wine in which acidity is not so expressed.
At the, unfortunately, we had a chance to try only one red wine, but if we are to judge by that, we would love the other two also. As a lover of this sort, it would be expected from Nikola to give us a taste of excellent wine and that he did – his Babić is full and beautiful with a little bit different taste in which you can feel his youth and a new modern approach to wine making. Birins Babić will wow you with its dark ruby red colour, pleasant smell and rich flavour.
Now, in the end, the perfect surprise to fit with such a beautiful story is a relationship beetwen Nikola Birin and Ivan Cukrov. What combined them together, along with their long time friendship, is the love for nature, adventure and exploring their area combined with good wine and food. Ivan started his bussiness Karika with the idea of bike rentals and bike tours and it fits him perfectly! What he offers you is a special way to see Šibenik region, like getting to know history of Vodice by biking through it with a guide or visitting the archeological sites in the area to even exploring National Park Krka or Lake Vrana by bike. It’s an expirience of nature that flourishes in a special way, combining sea, wind, stone and dirt, only in Dalmatia.
Now what is specially interesting offer for us, that’s a wine tour by bike in which you can find the best qualities of food, wine and nature alltogether getting to know the vineyards through an active and adventures way. Nikola and Ivan combined the best that their two jobs had to offer and decided to show us a really good time! After an evening of pedaling in the vineyards and the hinterland of Vodice with Ivan, you are greeted at Birin winery by Nikola who waits for you at a cooling 22 degrees with food authentic for Dalmatia – cheese, prosciutto and peka bread, and of course, exceptional Birin wines to cool you down after the ride. What better way to spend an evening in Dalmatia?