Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia Nera di Brindisi


This Malvasia hails from Puglia or Apulia as we say in English. It tends to grow around Lecce, Taranto and Brindisi.


Malvasia Nera di Brindisi which is also sometimes called Malvasia Nera di Lecce, Malvasia di Bitonto and Malvasia di Trani is usually used in rose wines for which the Salento is very well known as well as in red wines blended with other indigenous grapes from the area such as Negro Amaro and Susamaniello. It can be found in a host of DOC wines such as Aezio, Leverano, Copertino, Lizzano, Nardò, Salice Salentino,and Squinzano. Some producers do make a 100% monovarietal.

The variety is quite resistant to hot temperatures which works perfectly in that region which is very hot for much of the spring and summer. It has a think skin and is very sensitive to various diseases such as oidium and botrytis. It makes wines that have good tannins, alcohol and body. It can bring color to the blend but it lacks a bit of acidity. I have had this wine from Cantine San Marzano made with Malvasia Nera.  Tenuta Americo, from Otranto also makes many versions of Malvasia.

I love Puglia, the people, the food, the wines. I spent a week in the Salento in 2002 and it was truly memorable. I felt as if I was swimming in an emerald. I have never seen such green water in my life despite sailing in many parts of the Mediterranean, including Greece and Turkey.

My last trip in 2010 was more wine focused. I used to find that many of the best wines from Puglia don’t make it to the USA and those that do, at times have too much oak. That has changed in recent years and I am happy about it. They have so many fantastic indigenous varieties that I would like to taste without having them layered in oak flavors. It’s all about your personal palate at the end of the day and mine tends to try to stay away from oaky wines, especially if I am having light fare or I am at the beach. I highly recommend traveling there for the wines, the food, the people, the towns and the sea, its the Mediterranean at it’s best.

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