Match of the week
Wild asparagus and Istrian Malvazija
This week’s wine pairing couldn’t be anything else but Istrian having spent three days in this northern part of Croatia last week. Surprisingly it turns out to be a great gastronomic destination - not from the point of view of fine dining but of respect for local traditions, ingredients and grape varieties.
We went during the wild asparagus festival, a month-long promotion called Days of Istrian Asparagus which lasts till the beginning of May. It has a stronger, slightly more bitter, herbal taste than the green asparagus we get here and is served with eggs, a rolled pasta called pljukanci and as a risotto (right. You can see a couple of the egg dishes here)
The most widely available white wine in Istria is malvazija (Malvasia) so that’s naturally what the locals drink with it. Most commonly it’s a fresh crisp, aromatic white with an attractive floral character although there are older vintages made with extended skin contact which have richer, more complex flavours, better suited to the region's other great speciality, white truffles‘.
There are apparently some 30 different types of Malvasia, mainly across the Mediterranean according to the quaintly translated website Vinistra which contains more than you probably ever need to know about the variety
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