Malvazija Istarska is a green grape from Croatia. It is a close relative to Malvasia Bianca Lunga but has nothing in common with several other Malvasia grapes, for example the Malvasia Bianca Candida or Malvasia Fina varieties.
Malvazij Istarska is, as several other Malvasia sub varieties, susceptible to a number of diseases. Subsequently it is a bit demanding of the viticulturist and it is not the easiest grape to grow. It has a tendency to over produce and will then produce grapes of lower quality, leading to the production of uninteresting wines. Green harvest is therefore recommended.
Flavours are of green apple, citrus, acacia and fresh cut grass. Acidity levels vary from medium to medium high.
Even though Malvazija Istarka commonly are produced as dry varietal wines, they come in many different styles. They can be anything from young and fresh to oak aged, the latter most commonly in French or Slavonian oak. There are growers who use barrels made from Acacia wood- as well. A speciality is the “orange” wines where the colour comes from an extended skin maceration.
A young and fresh dry varietal Malvazija Istarska wine will pair excellently with white fish or a risotto with seafood. Best served at 10-11°C/50-52°F.
If matured in oak, white meat or pasta with meat will be a nice choice. Best served at 11-12°C/52-54°F.
Where is it grown?
Malvazija Istarska’s heartland in, as the name indicates, the Istrian Peninsula. Apart from a couple of very small plantings, the variety’s Croatian acreage of 1.705 ha/4,213 ac, is found there. This positions it as the third most planted grape in the country.
As part of huge drop in reported planted area in Croatia between 2000 and 2010 (e.g. down from 59.448 ha/146,899 ac to 20.754 ha/51,284 ac, minus sixty-five percent), Malvazija Istarska’s is reported to have diminished with seventy-six percent in the same period.
From neighbouring Slovenia, there are reports of an acreage of 740 ha/1,829 ac. This is found in the regions of Vipava (263 ha/650 ac) and in the Slovenian part of Istria (409 ha/1,011 ac).
From the two neighbouring regions in Italy, e.g. Veneto and Friuli-Venetzia Giulia there are reports of plantings of 247 ha/610 ac. Total acreage in Italy is 296 ha/731 ac.
Malvazija Istarska is said to have been introduced in Istria by the Venetians in the fourteenth century. There is no solid proof for this, although it is quite likely as this was during the period when the Istrian Peninsula was under Venetian rule.
It is however not likely that it was brought there from Greece, as the story also tells, as there are no known ampeleographic links to known Greek varieties.