Malvasia is a white grape variety of Greek origin generally used to produce white wines, but sometimes light reds. ‘Malvasia’ is the generalised name used for several different varieties. Most varieties are related to Malvasia Bianca and are similar to Muscat, apart from Malvasia di Candia which is vastly different.
Malvasia is extensively planted in Italy in its various styles, Malvasia Bianca is often grown and blended with Trebbiano. However in recent times this blend has dwindled in popularity, as growers have decided to replace it with international cultivars. High quality Varietal wines are made in Friuli using Malvasia Istriana in the DOCs of Collio and Isonzo. Lightly sparkling Malvasia can be found in Emilia where it is known as Champagnino. Sweet white Malvasia, generally a Passito style dessert wine, was once commonplace. However, currently only the phenotype Malvasia delle Liparir is really thriving in terms of level of production. This makes a divine sweet orange wine produced in the Lipari Islands off the north coast of Sicily.
Red Malvasia is sometimes blended with Negroamaro in Puglia. However, the introduction of perhaps more suitable international blending partners has jeopardised its sustainability. It is known as Malvoisie in Corsica, where the Corsicans maintain that it is the same as Vermentino. In Spain plantings are declining in general; however it is used in Lanzarote and La Palma to produce a sweet wine. Twelve different types of Malvasia are grown in Portugal, and it has also been used successfully cultivated in California, as well as in modern Greece.