Istria is sparsely populated, colorfully green, hilly countryside. Away from the popular coastline on the Mediterranean, where houses spill down slopes towards the vast smooth bay that lies between the peninsula and the mainland, stone farmhouses and villages sit in a rural landscape dotted with oak, olive and blue splashes of lavender, with pretty, hilltop towns and houses clustered around the obligatory towering Roman Catholic church spire. Much of it reminds you of central and coastal Italy. Malvasia flourishes here as a crisp dry white, a Croatian answer to Spain’s Albarino or Austria’s Grüner Veltliner, not quite like one or the other, but occasionally resembling them, or Loire Chenin Blanc, especially in their refreshing dry flavors and their affinity with the local seafood and shellfish. It’s a vigorous variety, so the best results come from low-yielding vineyards. From one of Istria’s best wine producers, Coronica, this has a refreshing creamy character on the nose, and its lean streak of acidity and mineral dryness of fruit gives it an elegant fish-friendly feel. From the importer: "Moreno Coronica's Malvazija Istarska is considered a benchmark example of this indigenous variety. Vinified in stainless steel with selected neutral yeast it spent approximately 6 months on the lees. Freshly opened, it smells of peppery citrus and sea shells, bright but gentle with its typical note of salt. It is unbeatable with fresh grilled shellfish doused in Istrian olive oil."
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