WINELIFE was invited to 'Malvasia Day' on the idyllic volcanic islets off Sicily. In the starring role: Malvasia. TEXT KARIN LEEUWENHOEK | IMAGE CANTINE COLOSI + CAPOFARO
Pronto? Who am I speaking to?
'Malvasia is the name; pleasant. Malvasia di Lipari, the grape of the Aeolian Islands, northeast of Sicily. This archipelago of seven volcanic islands (Lipari, Salina, Vulcano, Stromboli and the even smaller Alicudi, Filicudi and Panarea) has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 2000. We have our unique, indigenous malvasia di lipari grapes here, but the malvasia 'family' consists of dozens of Mediterranean grape varieties. These are by no means all genetically related, by the way. The name malvasia probably comes from the Greek port city of Monemvasia, from where all those different malvasia grapes were already traded as wine 800 years ago. The main similarity is that you can make powerful, sweet wines from these grapes. Some malvasia varieties produce extra refined, distinctive wines.'
Like the Malvasia Di Lipari?
'Absolutely. Our islands are known for the unique Malvasia delle Lipari DOC, a honey-sweet passito wine made from dried grapes. From our local malvasia-di-lipari grapes, of course. Those extra sweet grapes give concentrated aromas of apricots, orange peel, dried figs, honey and often spices like fresh peppercorns, cardamom and mint. Our modern, dry Malvasia is also becoming famous: lemon-fresh and salty like the sea, with aromatic notes of flowers, wild herbs, honey, citrus and spices, and spicy, volcanic and salty impressions of olives, flint, salmiac and sea salt. Very mineral. True island wine. The dry Malvasia has the appellation name Salina IGT. Indeed, you will find viticulture mainly on our island Salina, known from the film Il Postino.'
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