The Forgotten Father: Dobričić, Ancestor of Zinfandel and Plavac Mali

Nestled in the cerulean waters of the Adriatic Sea, a mere nine nautical miles from Split, you’ll find a true Mediterranean jewel: the inviting island of Šolta. A famed haven for honey, olive oil, and sun-kissed vistas, Šolta also cradles a beguiling ancient wine in its rocky soils: the Dobričić.

While many wine aficionados might not have encountered this specific red wine, it holds a lineage and flavor complexity that sets it apart. Dobričić, pronounced “Doh-bree-cheech,” might not have the international acclaim of Croatian varieties like Malvasia Istriana, but it has a unique charm that makes it a Dalmatian winemaking treasure. Interestingly, it has an additional claim to fame, being the genetic “father” of two world-renowned grape varieties – the Zinfandel and Plavac Mali.

The Root of Vinous Lineage

The Dobričić grape is the quiet architect behind this vigorous wine, its origins woven into the ancient viticultural tapestry of Šolta. Cultivated on the island for countless generations, this indigenous variety forms an integral part of Šolta’s winemaking chronicles. During the mid-20th century, like many heritage viticulture practices, Dobričić fell into obscurity during Yugoslavia’s socialist era, coming perilously close to vanishing altogether.

Yet, this resilient grape variety has bounced back, thanks to the relentless efforts of local vintners. Today, Dobričić is not only a badge of Šolta’s rich viticultural history, but also a shining beacon for its flourishing wine industry. Significantly, it’s the acknowledged genetic progenitor of two celebrated wine grape varieties, Zinfandel and Plavac Mali, adding another layer to its compelling narrative.

Šolta in a Glass

If Šolta’s essence were to be captured in a wine, Dobričić would be the perfect embodiment. This deep, ruby-hued wine cradles the warmth of the Mediterranean sun, the briny whisper of the Adriatic, and the mineral-rich character of Šolta’s rocky terrain in every bottle.

The wine offers an intense aromatic profile of dark berries, ripe plums, and a hint of Mediterranean herbs. The palate reveals a delightful array of robust fruit flavors harmonized with well-structured tannins. Medium to full-bodied, it’s the high acidity that injects Dobričić with its lively character, balanced by a slightly bitter finish reminiscent of dark chocolate or black tea.

Culinary Companions

Dobričić is an exceptional gastronomic wine, its bold flavors and high acidity making it an excellent companion to rich, hearty dishes. It pairs delightfully with grilled meats, game, Dalmatian prosciutto (pršut), and aged cheeses. For a quintessential local experience, pair it with ‘peka’, a traditional Dalmatian dish featuring slow-cooked meats and vegetables under a bell-like dome, or ‘pasticada’, a sweetened beef stew with prunes and dried figs.

The Testament of Tradition and Potential

From the brink of extinction to becoming a symbol of Šolta’s viticultural resurgence, the story of Dobričić underscores the resilience of tradition and the limitless potential contained within every vineyard. Dobričić represents not only the island’s past but also its promising future. With the global wine industry increasingly valuing indigenous varieties and unique terroir, Dobričić is well-positioned to seduce a broader audience.

For the adventurous oenophile looking to venture beyond the known, Dobričić awaits. This modest grape from the tranquil island of Šolta harbors a universe of flavors – a true concealed gem in the vast sea of wines. Once you’ve sipped Dobričić, you’ve tasted the soul of Šolta, and there’s no turning back. Salute!

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