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Istria has established itself as a wine lovers’ mecca in recent years, bringing more and more wine tourists to the Croatian peninsula. It’s not surprising, since the region is considered to be the culinary leader of the whole country and enchants its visitors with its idyllic natural landscape, medieval mountain villages, endless olive groves, and thick forests filled with truffles.
Large quantities of wine are not produced, but the winemakers are bold and the quality is excellent. Even though international grape varieties are grown in some places, the popular autochthonous wines are the calling cards of the area. Anyone who has ever been to Istria knows that there is no getting around Malvazija.
Origin of Malvazija grape variety
Malvazija is considered a native Istrian strain of grape, however its exact place of origin is still not entirely clear. Although grown locally for generations, the existence of the variety on the Croatian peninsula was first documented at the beginning of the 19th century. Malvazija is also grown, albeit in smaller quantities, in areas of Slovenia and Italy, but these regions were geopolitically united for a long time in the past.
Characteristics of Malvazija white wine
This lush grape variety produces large yields which deliver medium-bodied wines with moderate acidity. The alcohol content is higher than average, typically between 11.5 and 14.5% by volume. The wine’s distinct aroma of acacia flowers is usually accompanied by the scent of lime, apple, plum, and/or apricot. Aged versions of Malvazija often have a slightly bitter taste of almond, honey, and vanilla.
Three basic wine types are derived from varied production methods. The first is a simple, straightforward version that should be consumed promptly. The second is the very popular fresh Malvazija, which is produced from first-rate grapes and has a shelf life of up to three years. The type is aged Malvazija, which matures for at least two years after harvest and has a shelf life of several years. In fact, Istrian Malvazija is one of the rare white wines that can be stored for well over ten years.
Malvazija pairs excellently with oysters, homemade pasta with green asparagus, pork tenderloin with vegetable couscous, or grilled octopus with chard and potatoes. Macerated Malvazija wines are ideal for pairing with a beef steak and grilled vegetables or a steamed veal steak and an endive mash.
A wine with potential
Malvazija’s high alcohol content is always wonderfully integrated resulting in a harmonious pleasure which makes it easy to drink, and the bottle is empty before you know it. Additionally, some of the world’s best orange wines (where the grape skins are fermented along with the mash) now come from Istria. The region is innovative and definitely still an absolute insider tip for wine connoisseurs!