Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Malvasia From the Piedmont

Casalone MonemvasiaNow here's something interesting: a totally dry white malvasia produced in the Piedmont. Malvasia bianco is widely found in warmer "Mediterranean" regions — it's relatively common in southern Italy and in Portugual, for example — and it's often used to make sweeter wines, such as Madeira.

Malvasia bianco (there are red sheep in the malvasia family) is known to travel inland and north somewhat. For example, Lopez de Heredia uses a small proportion of malvasia in their white Riojas, and it's found to some small degree in central Italy. The Oxford Companion to Wine even says that "The finest dry white varietal Malvasia is made in Friuli," and it's certainly news to me that any malvasia is grown there.

Casalone claims that their Monemvasia is produced from grapes initially imported from the Greek village of Monemvasia by the Venetians in the 13th century. This sounds more like marketing than literal truth to me, but this non-DOC, non-vintage (but surely young) wine sure tastes like a malvasia grown in the sandy soils of Monferrato. For one thing, it's all peachy and aromatic like a larger-framed (if less creamy) arneis. For another thing, it has a certain subtle je ne sais musk that's totally crisp and and is clean and dry on the finish.

This works well with a variety of raw and cooked vegetables and would probably be great with prosciutto and cantaloupe.

No comments: