Malvasia di Candia, Ancient Origins and Spread of the Vine
Malvasia di Candia originated in Ancient Greece and, in particular, on the island of Crete. This theory is confirmed by the name of the vine: Candia was the capital of Crete and was the name given to the whole island under the occupation of the Venetians between the 12th and 17th centuries. The fact that this vine belongs to the broader Malvasia family makes it possible to trace its diffusion to the activities of the merchants of the Most Serene Republic of Venice. Impressed by the qualities of the white wine, after the Greek conquest at the hands of the Turks, they began to import plants to continue production in Italy. Cretico wine was produced from a combination of different local white grape varieties, now grouped together in the same family.
Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, which is widespread today in the Emilian hills of Piacenza, Parma and Reggio Emilia, and is also present in Pavia and Lazio, belongs to a larger family that includes 17 different varieties, all of which share a Greek origin. The variant grown in Emilia is certainly the most intense and aromatic type, capable of creating very different enological expressions. The reason for its diffusion and success in the Emilia area is its versatility and high productivity: in an area that has always been suited to the production of semi-sparkling or bottle-fermented wines, productive varieties were sought after for their pleasant aromaticity that could make up for the lack of substance and structure typical of the type. The farmers of Emilia appreciated this intense and generous variety, rich in aromatic elements both on the skins and in the pulp. Thanks to this variety, they were able to produce extraordinarily pleasant semi-sparkling nectars with a unique aromaticity, comparable in intensity only to that of Moscato Bianco.
Over the last few decades, the development of this extraordinary grape variety, with its unexplored potential, has led several producers to try still vinification, with maceration on the skins, drying or late harvesting. As a result, alongside the more classic sparkling or re-fermented in the bottle versions, Emilia Romagna wines of great intensity and complexity can now be found on the market, capable of fully conveying the marvellous aromatic range of the grape variety.
A Rich Range of Primary Aromas
This is a variety that, on the vine, presents a medium-sized grape cluster and small berries, with a thick and substantial skin, rich in polyphenols. The colour of the skin is golden and opalescent when ripe, with a good presence of bloom. This is a terpenic variety, with aromatic elements present both on the skin and in the pulp, which, in terms of intensity, can be compared to Muscat or Traminer Aromatico but with its own unique characteristics. The typical aromas fall into the fruity-tropical category and are clearly distinguishable in the passito versions compared to the sparkling versions. The sparkling versions are very often produced from grapes that have not yet reached full maturity and have not yet fully developed their aromatic qualities, allowing the freshness and immediacy of the fruit to be brought out. In the more intense and mature expressions, however, it is possible to fully grasp the range of aromas that includes peaches, apricots, yellow fruit, mango, papaya, figs, honey and white flowers.
Malvasia di Candia is cultivated by many producers in the Emilia region with varying results. The most widespread version is perhaps the sparkling one produced with the Charmat or Martinotti method, capable of representing the territory's propensity for bubblies with a modern and youthful spirit. One of the most famous producers of this type is Cantina Ariola, which is also famous for its lively red Lambrusco wines made using the same method. Smaller producers such as Crocizia and Vino del Poggio, descendants of more artisanal methods, create more rustic and rural versions: the first is an immediate and pleasant re-fermented in the bottle wine, while the second is a white wine macerated on the skins with a complex and fascinating personality. Among the producers who have focused on the richest expressions, whether passito or late harvest, are Torre Fornello and Monte delle Vigne, along with many others.
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