Malvasia del Lazio, white wine grape found in Italy and which is part of the amorphous Malvasia group of grape varieties. It is described as a mildly aromatic grape variety by Dr Ian D’Agata (Italy’s Native Wine Grape Terroirs, p19). See aromatic grape varieties.

Background | Once regarded as a less desirable variety due to its low yields, Malvasia del Lazio was edged out by the lower quality Malvasia Bianca di Candia in the Frascati blends. Nowadays, Malvasia del Lazio is gradually being re-recognized as a variety that gives higher quality wines.

The name | Malvasia del Lazio is named after the region of Lazio, where most of its plantings are found. Malvasia del Lazio is also known as Malvasia Puntinata (‘puntinata’ means speckled in Italian) for its spotted berries when ripe.

Origin | Malvasia del Lazio comes from a natural crossing between Schiava Grossa and Moscato d’Alessandria, which endows it with a lightly aromatic character.

Wines | Lazio: Frascati DOC. | Cannellino di Frascati DOCG. | Castelli Romani DOC. | Colli Albani DOC. | Marino DOC. | Colli Lanuvini DOC. | Abruzzo: IGP Colline Pescaresi. | IGP Terre Aquilane. | Umbria: IGP Umbria.

Viticulture | Harvest time is crucial as Malvasia del Lazio can drop its acidity precipitously once it becomes overripe. It is a miserly producer, which leads to its lack of popularity among quantity-oriented producers. Forcing high yields on it significantly dilutes its delicately aromatic personality.

Wine styles | Still dry varietal wines are rare but show notes of sage, ripe citrus, beeswax and resin, and show a creamy texture. Blends are more common. Unfortunately, it was often blended with two lesser quality yet productive varieties, Trebbiano Toscano and Malvasia Bianca di Candia, to make the once-famous Frascati. Awareness that Malvasia del Lazio can significantly heighten the quality of Frascati is rising, and the wine’s once tarnished reputation is slowly being restored. Occasional sweet examples exists and the variety welcomes noble rot. Late harvest as well as passito versions can easily be some of the best wines Italy has to offer. These are rich and creamy with fresh acidity, boasting aromas and flavors redolent with ripe peach and tropical fruits.

Bibliography

Dr Ian d’Agata, Italy’s Native Wine Grape Terroirs (University of California Press, 2019).

Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p55-6.