Malvasia Istriana…
Where have you been all my life ?

Amazingly good fortune it was to step into an unexpected & quite mind-bending, mini-vertical
of Malvasia Istriana at TENUTA DI BLASIG. All thanks to Friuli’s legendary enological historian and all-round
native grape hero, Claudio Fabbro ;)

Founded in 1788, and today under the guiding hand of 8th generation family member Elisabetta Bortolotto Sarcinelli, TENUTA DI BLASIG continues to hold the Malvasia Istriana variety very close to heart. Afterall it was all those years ago when founding father Domenico Blasig had the vision to focus on cultivating this variety as the winery’s principal white grape.

At Tenuta di Blasig, we’re a stones throw from Trieste, northeast Italy.

Going back in time, at one point we’d most likely be in historical Istria. While borders and countries in these parts have undergone repeated geopolitical change over the past 3000 years, thankfully for the vines, geological upheaval is far less frequent. That’s the way the Malvasia Istriana vines appear to like it.

Thinking about it now, Domenico di Blasig was as a pretty progressive, future thinking kinda guy. Today, 228 years on, Elisabetta tells us that his vision and his wish remains steadfast amongst the family. Look after my Malvasia grapes was his passing wish.

Yep, TENUTA DI BLASIG is quite a unique Malvasia house.

Surprise Mini-Vertical 15 year span
4 Vintages – ’15, ’10, ’06, ’01



*Vintage ’15 – crystal straw yellow with light green reflection
*Vintage ’10 – straw coloured with golden reflection
*Vintage ’06 – rich yellow gold
*Vintage ’01 – amber & topaz
Note…The 3 older vintage colours display their age with both grace and aplomb. Their respective lights still shine and tell us maybe something special is still to come.


*Vintage ’15 – The current vintage is lightly aromatic and floral, rose like. With a little light spice. Elegant.
*Vintage ’10 – 6 years on from the vintage, the ’10 offers rich floral notes of yellow rose. Add in some ripe yellow stone fruit notes.
*Vintage ’06 – 10 years on, with the ’06 we’re talking aromatic, spiced and honeyed finesse
*Vintage ’01 – 15 years on we found the 2001 intense and complex with delicate aromas and perfumed notes. Meditative qualities that we’d love to mull over for as long as humanly possible :)


*Vintage ’15 – dry and well rounded structure with acidity underpinned by notable minerality that persists well. The ’15 certainly suggests potential.
*Vintage ’10 – 6 years on from the vintage, there is still good acidity that can bring the ’10 a little further down the road. After thought: It’s not as persistent on the palate as the ’06 and ’01. However to taste this again in 5-10 years will make for an interesting comparative with the other two at the same evolutionary stage.
*Vintage ’06 – 10 years on, we’ve still got lovely balance, structure, increased complexity, lightly spiced, nutty, perfumed persistence.
*Vintage ’01 – 15 years on, the ’01 is displaying concentration and persistence with super meditative qualities. While it hasn’t given up just yet, perhaps the ’01 is reaching the point of departure with its acidity showing signs it may soon wish to retire from the stage. But we think a standing ovation is in order for everything it is doing to help us learn about Malvasia Istriana’s potential as an evolutionary white.

There are numerous native grapes carrying the ‘Malvasia’ handle.

You’ll find them all over Europe and further beyond. Covering the full colour spectrum, they run from light green to yellow, often pale and pruinose, to pink and black. And as is the case with other grape groups, most Malvasia are entirely unrelated. But recent DNA analysis has thrown up a couple of fascinating spins. In particular for the variety Malvasia Istriana.

Originally believed to have originated from a Greek variety, and supposedly brought to Istria by Venetian traders in the middle ages, DNA analysis appears to challenge that story. Ian D’Agata delivers this super detailed news update in his best seller, Native Wine Grapes of Italy.

In simple terms, the latest lab research appears to set aside the former Greek grape connection in favour of a genetic relationship, tenuous though it may be, with Malvasia di Lipari.

This therefore switches the GPS co-ordinate discussion from Greece to a small group of islands just off Sicily’s north eastern coast. Look for Messina on the map and then sail north west to the island of Lipari. We’d say this news is turning the discovery dial upwards to 9.5!

As mentioned by Ian, we too add a sincere shout out to the Lab heroes Crespan, Cabello, Gianetto, Ibanez, Kontic, Maletic, Pejic, Rodriguez & Antonacci in recognition of their fine gig.

Without them we’d be lost somewhere in the Med!

So, if you pick up a Malvasia Istriana in your local store, whether it be from modern day Friuli, Slovenia or Croatia, what are you most likely to find?

Honestly, gallons & gallons of interesting stuff. Because what we’re now coming to understand is that apart from the variation of vine selections planted, even when tasting wines produced from the same vine selection, the wine-making results really do vary from vineyard to vineyard. This tells us that Malvasia Istriana responds to terroir. This means there’s some serious tasting still to do folks!

As we mentioned earlier, a significant parting gift from this particular vertical tasting was experiencing how Tenuta di Blasig’s Malvasia, traversed the bridge from simple youthful consumption to show off such incredibile capacity to evolve with age. Unlike anything we’ve experienced or imagined, at any time, when previously tasting this variety.

On reflection, our wonder & surprise have now quickly turned to great expectation.

At Tenuta di Blasig, a winery with 228 vintages of Malvasia Istriana experience behind it’s original stone cellar walls, quite literally you’ll find yourself stepping into The Soul Serene.

Everyone needs to have this feeling at least once in their life, right !

Nah, let’s make that at least twice. We’re going back !

The Soul Serene – Villagers

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