The Malvasia family of grapes is ancient, hearty and prolific. Yet, it is often an overlooked component in blends—even making up a small fraction of bottlings claiming to be “single varietal” wines made from other white grapes. “I’ve been growing Malvasia Bianca for 20 years and pouring it for 16, and we still have to explain how to pronounce it and what it is,” says Victor Poulos, founder and co-owner of Zin Valle Vineyards in southwest Texas.
Oenologist Walter Filiputti of Meneghetti Winery in Istria traces Malvasia to the 13th century, with origins in Asia Minor (now Turkey and Greece). Today, Malvasia Bianca, a white subvariety, is the most frequently vinified, making light, crisp white wines as well as complex sweet wines. Both the longevity and great geographic diversity of Malvasia grape varieties, particularly Malvasia Bianca, hints at its promise and adaptability in an era of climate change.