Today we will be concluding our exploration of unusual white wines with a look at Malvasia. Actually one of the most widely planted grapes in Italy, along with Trebbiano this grape is responsible for large amounts of casual Italian bistro and table wines. It comes in both white (Bianca) and red (Nera) skinned varieties, and can be produced in both a light and full bodied style, dry or sweet. Although this grape is a component in a number of easy drinking Italian whites, Malvasia is a fairly uncommon name to find listed on a label. So today, to get this grape a little bit of attention, we will be talking about two New World Malvasias from California’s Central Coast.
Wine #1: Palmina 2009 Santa Ynez Valley “Larner Vineyard” Malvasia Bianca
The fruit for our first wine comes exclusively from Larner Vineyard in Santa Ynez. The one acre of Malvasia planted there thrives in the warm sunny days and cool foggy mornings that the coastal influenced climate provides. Mirroring the growing conditions in the grape’s native Piemonte, Larner Vineyard produces Malvasia that remains very true to its traditional style. This wine goes through full malolactic fermentation to soften its acidity and is allowed just enough time to come together in neutral oak barrels before bottling.
A very nice floral fragrance shows strongly on the nose. Orange tree flowers, honey, green apples, and a very faint gooseberry mingle with a little bit of spice toward the core and on the spin.
The palate is tender and spicy, with fresh, soft lemon flavors and a faint hint of quince. Sea stone and vanilla combined with beeswax and a sweet pea floral component unfold throughout. This is a fairly light, crisp, and enjoyable wine, with a unique flavor profile and pleasant drinking characteristics.
Worth Trying. 90 points.
Wine #2: Wild Horse 2009 San Bernabe Malvasia Bianca
Like our first wine, our second also comes from a producer that we have featured on the site before. In “Exploring Negrette” Wild Horse was behind one of the big, dark, inky reds discussed in that article. Today, we’re seeing a completely different side of the producer as we check out one of their specialty whites, coming from the San Bernabe appellation in southern Monterey.
There is a deep floral tone on the nose, with an almost spicy quality to it. Fresh wild flowers, honey, white nectarine, and a se stone component also show through.
There is a bit of sweetness to this wine that is balanced nicely by its fresh acidity. White peach and flint tones show at first, moving into orange and apple tones with a persistent floral component that lasts into the finish. This is a refreshing wine with a nice intensity, and one…
Worth Trying. 88 points.
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The Grapevine: What’s your experience with Malvasia?