Malvasia Istriana, white wine grape variety which is part of the amorphous Malvasia group of grape varieties. Malvasia Istriana produces some of Italy’s best dry white Malvasia wines. It is described as moderate to strongly aromatic by Dr Ian D’Agata (Italy’s Native Wine Grape Terroirs, p19). See aromatic grape varietiesAs its name implies, it is thought to have originated from Croatia’s Istrian peninsula, which belonged to Italy before WWII.

Family ties | Studies show that it is genetically related to Malvasia di Lipari and Malvasia Bianca Lunga.

Where grownMalvasia Istriana is mostly found in Friuli-Venezia Giulia: Carso DOC. | Collio DOC. | Friuli Isonzo DOC. | Puglia: Marginal plantings. | Veneto: Marginal plantings.

Viticulture | Malvasia Istriana is rather distinct from all the other Malvasia-named grapes, both in its appearance and the kind of wine it makes. Marked by high intravarietal variability, Malvasia Istriana boasts many site-specific biotypes with varied morphologies. Thanks to its thick skin, it is generally disease resistant, except for powdery mildew (oidium). Its best wines tend to come from hillside vineyards with poor soils.

Wine style | Malvasia Istriana produces pale, dry white still wines, ranging from softly aromatic to more mineral and austere all the way to full-bodied with obvious alcoholic heft. The best are delicately floral and remarkably saline. With time, Malvasia Istriana develops notes of apricot, peach and wisteria and even a Riesling-like diesel note. Some macerated examples show a fuller body, a more impressive tannic structure, and deeper colour. 

Bibliography

Dr Ian d’Agata, Italy’s Native Wine Grape Terroirs (University of California Press, 2019).

Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p56-7.