The Best Malvasia Wine from Italy
Malvasia (Italian pronunciation: : [malva’zi:a], also known as Malvazia) is a group of wine grape varieties grown historically in the Mediterranean region, Balearic islands, Canary Islands and the island of Madeira, but now grown in many of the wine making regions of the world. In the past, the names Malvasia, Malvazia, and Malmsey have been used interchangeably for Malvasia based wines; however, in modern oenology, “Malmsey” is now used almost exclusively for a sweet variety of Madeira wine made from the Malvasia grape. Grape varieties in this family include Malvasia bianca, Malvasia di Schierano, Malvasia negra, Malvasia nera, Malvasia nera di Brindisi and a number of other varieties. Malvasia wines are produced in Italy (including Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Lombardia, Apulia, Sicily, Lipari, Emilia-Romagna, and Sardinia).
Given the broad expanse of the Malvasia family, generalizations about the Malvasia wine are difficult to pin point. Most varieties of Malvasia are derived from Malvasia bianca which is characterized by its deep color, noted aromas and the presence of some residual sugar. The red varieties of Malvasia tend to make wines with pale, pinkish to light red color. In their youth, Malvasia wines are characterized by their heavy body that is often described as “round” or “fat” and soft texture in the mouth. Common aroma notes associated with Malvasia include peaches, apricots and white currants. Red Malvasia wines are characterized by a richness and chocolate notes. Fortified Malvasia, such as Madeira, are noted for their intense smokey notes and sharp acidity. As Malvasia ages, the wines tend to take on more nutty aromas and flavors.