Visitors to Slovenia’s coastal areas and the Karst will have a difficult time not crossing paths with the Primorska region’s most popular white, Malvazija, or Malvasia to the rest of the world.
A regular staple in the region since Venetian merchants transported cuttings from Greece in the 14th century, it’s a dry white, in its best years fairly high in alcohol, citrusy and nutty, nicely balanced with medium body and acidity, and even suitable for a bit of aging.
For most visitors who’ll see it, whether first-timers in Italy’s Friuli, Croatia’s Istra or Slovenia’s coast and Karst, they’ll draw a blank. Here’s my first go at filling in those blanks, bit by bit. Beginning with this first of what I hope will be many tasting quartets.
For this first tasting notebook, I tried to group according to price point, and feature wines that are widely available. I also included wines from three of the four Primorska districts.
Let’s get to it, beginning with the area’s largest producer, Vinakoper.
Vinakoper Malvazija Capris, Primorska, Slovenska Istra, 2013
Capris is the mid-range brand from Vinakoper, one of Slovenia’s largest wineries; for this bottling the grapes come from Debeli rtič, vineyards bathed in sunlight on the Ankaran Peninsula between the Slovenian port city of Koper and the Italian town of Muggia, across the bay from Trieste.
It’s pale yellow in color with tinges of green and gold, pleasant acacia and tropical fruit on the nose. It’s soft but full on the palate, nutty, mostly almond. on the finish. A very nice example.
Vinakoper Malvazija, Primorska, Slovenska Istra, 2015
Vinakoper’s mass-market bottling is more pale than its Capris brand cousin and not quite as concentrated, but it still packs nice fruit aromas and a decent finish for this price point. At this price, there’s nothing wrong with this wine.
Vinakras Malvazija, Primorska, Karst (Kras), 2015
Vinakras, the largest winery in the Karst (Kras), dates back to 1861. Here too Malvazija plays an important role.
Pale golden yellow, it gives off some floral notes on the nose and palate, mixed with some green apple and herbs. A little light overall, but again a decent example of the variety.
Colja Malvazija, Primorska, Vipava district, 2015
Ripening lemon in color, medium-bodied, with green apple the dominant note on the nose and palate. Soft but fairly long on the finish.
Any experience with these? Would love to here ‘em.