Malvasia Bianca is an ancient, highly valued Greek grape varietal vinified in a multitude of styles throughout Italy. Malvasia Bianca is one of the most widely planted, light-coloured grape varieties in Italy and the world. On the islands of Sardinia and Sicily, it makes rare, rich and wonderfully aromatic passito wines. Similar Malvasia dessert wines, made by drying the grapes before crushing, are found throughout central and southern Italy.
Malvasia Bianca is also used as a blending grape with Trebbiano in wines such as Frascati, Malvasia Istriana of Friuli, and the legendary Vin Santo of Tuscany. Malvasia Bianca has a long history on the northwest region of Italy where it is known as Malvasia Bianca Piemonte or Moscato Greco.
The name Malvasia itself is thought to derive from the Greek word Monenbasia, which means 'port with a single entrance'. And it is the Venetians themselves who are credited with using the term Malvasia to indicate the wines coming from the eastern Mediterranean.
It was the time when the ships of the marine republics, along with luxury goods, spices and other merchandise for trading, were also loaded with these sweet wines, headed for northern Europe regions. It was because the wines of the Mediterranean were made sweeter and with higher alcohol, this meant they travelled better, lasted longer and consequently became more valuable.
Malvasia Bianca can be grown anywhere, in particular the drier styles appreciate cooler, sun-drenched hillsides with light, well-drained soils. Malvasia Bianca’s vines are moderately to very productive, though higher yields may sacrifice some flavour intensity.
Whether sweet or dry, Malvasia Bianca offers delightful aromas and flavours of honey and ripe pears with hints of spice. Round, lushly fruity flavours and a plush texture lead to a finish that is determined by the degree of residual sugar and the winemaking choices. The lightest versions offer a clean, crisp finish, while those aged in small barrels may display light tannins and a hint of vanilla, with sweeter, more opulent versions lingering on the palate. Highly flavoured wines of good to excellent quality and moderate acidity are used as a main base or as a blend in sparkling wines, as an enhancement of fruit character in Chardonnay wines, or for dessert-style premium wines.