The Holy Trinity of Istrian Wine: Malvazija

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November 28, 2108 – The second in a series of three articles unveiling the most important Istrian wines.

Regarded as the absolute queen of Istrian vineyards, Malvazija is the most widespread white grape variety in Istria, and the second most widespread in Croatia. The name “Malvazija” is present in various forms (Italian: Malvasia; French: Malvoisie; English: Malvesie, or Malmsey), and is of Greek origin, derived from Monemvasía, a small town in the Peloponnese historically known for extensive export of the Malvasia grape family throughout the Mediterranean. However, Istarska Malvazija is today considered to be an authentic Istrian variety, as DNA analysis had confirmed that it is different from all the other Malvasia varieties.

These grapes are capable of producing wines in versatile styles, including dry, sparkling and sweet, while their color ranges from light yellowish to amber. Istrian Malvazija is typically described as a well-rounded, harmonious wine with a notable fruity and floral character. Malvazija’s distinct aroma is reminiscent of acacia flowers, and the dominant fruit flavors are usually those of apple and apricot, whereas more ripe Malvazija wines also have a hint of bitter almond.

Though it was long believed that Malvazija is best enjoyed as young as possible, nowadays aged Malvazija wines are conquering the market as well. Ideally, this elegant Istrian white is aged in barrels made of acacia wood, as this perfectly complements its natural aroma, and in addition, some winemakers have recently started aging it in Georgian qvevri and amphorae, as well.

In Istria, you will easily find top quality Malvazija wine all across the peninsula, but the no.1 destination for its biggest fans is Brtonigla, a small town in the Istrian northwest which hosts the annual Festival of Istrian Malvasia.

On top of being a true Istrian favorite, Istrian Malvazija received world-class recognition as the first Croatian wine for which a special glass was designed by Georg Riedel of Riedel The Wine Glass Company himself. The Malvasia Istriana glass was chosen by 50 Croatian wine experts and was presented at the 2013 Vinistra wine fair in Poreč.

Depending on the style, the versatile Malvazija wines are very food friendly: they are typically enjoyed with a number of light pasta dishes, seafood, and white fish, but they also pair well with various desserts.

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