This week’s variety is called Malvasia Nera Lunga and hails from Piedmont. It grows in the provinces of Asti and Turin. It is a grape with a long shape hence the name. It is a hard and vigorous grape. It can lose acidity relatively quickly so the picking date for these grapes is key before the alcohol and acidity gets out of balance. It works well as a dessert grape as well for its particular characteristics. The grape is often compared and contrasted with Malvasia di Schierano. Malvasia Nera Lunga is an earlier ripener that Malvasia di Schierano and it has less acidity traditionally. It is also heartier and more vigorous. Often Malvasia Nera Lunga is made into a mono-varietal wine or blended with Malvasia di Schierano. In the wine known as Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco DOC which I wrote about a few weeks ago, the rules call for 85% min. Malvasia di Schierano and/or Malvasia Nera Lunga.
This is my penultimate post on Malvasia. It has been wonderful finding out about so many versions of this amazing grape and all of the places it is grown in Italy. Both the white and the red versions of Malvasia are very interesting. This one can make a rich, full-bodied still wine and can also make beautiful sweet wines.
This week’s indigenous grape variety is called Malvasia di Schierano Nero. This aromatic grape comes from Piedmont and produces either frizzante or spumante red or rose style sweet wines. The grapes are occasionally dried and made into a passito style wine as well. The wines are said to be of low alcohol and to pair well with regional desserts. I have never had a wine from this particular denomination but it seems to be relatively popular in the Torino area. I found the names of a few producers and I think I may look them up at Vinitaly in two weeks. One is called Carlin de Paolo while another is Terre dei Santi. The grapes tend to grow near Castelnuovo Don Bosco and some other villages in the Astigiano area such as Albugnano, Passerano Marmorito, Pino d’Asti, Berzano and Moncucco. Another producer is Casa Vinicola Franco Francesco. Cascina Gilli also makes this sweet wine. I have had many of their other wines so I think this may be my first stop. The must be cooled down and then refermented with yeasts in an auto-clave. The cold temperature enables the grapes to keep their fresh, lively, primary aromas of fruit and flowers.
To have the Malvasia di Castelnuovo don Bosco DOC designation which includes sweet, sparkling, red and rose wines, the wines must be made from 85% Malvasia di Schierano grapes. This area of Piedmont is farther inland and has higher elevations. The climate is more Continental than Mediterranean and the grapes retain their freshness. I always feel that Piedmont is one area of Italy that I haven’t spent enough time in. Turin, like Milan, is a city that has undergone many changes throughout the areas. It is a city that surprises you and offers unexpected beauties. I think maybe I am due for a visit. I have some friends who live there so it could be the right time. Perhaps later this Spring. Five more Malvasia varieties to describe. This is my 169th post in this series….