Last week our Malvasia Bianca was awarded ‘Best Wine’ in Livermore Valley for 2021. It had survived a preliminary screening round by our local winemakers and then a final evaluation by an outside panel of esteemed judges. At the end, our little Malvasia was the last one standing.
This is our sixth vintage of Malvasia – each vintage a refinement on the previous year. The fruit possesses the heady aromas of a spring bouquet backed by notes of honey and exotic spices. The winemaker’s goal is to capture and frame these aromas in the finished wine. This is not an easy task.
From our first vintage, we have believed that the best way to showcase the beauty of Malvasia is to leave a little residual sugar in the wine. The first years were spent capturing a balance between the acidity and the sugar that would act as a frame to the fruit while, at the same time, retaining a slight amount of residual CO2 (petulance) to carry it to your nose. Yet, as good as the wine was becoming, we still weren’t capturing all the potential in the fruit.
Unlike red grapes, the skins in most white varietals do not transfer flavors to the finished wine. Instead, the flavors in white wine are created by the yeast during fermentation from precursor molecules in the pulp. Also, white wine skins have undeveloped tannins that, if extracted during processing, can lead to bitterness in the finished wine. These are the reasons why most white wines are made by pressing off the juice and removing the skins prior to fermentation.
Malvasia Bianca appears to be an exception, which is why we decided this year to soak the juice with the skins for a few hours prior to pressing and fermentation. This is not without risk – there is a chance that the undeveloped skin tannins (catechins) might extract into the wine. But we went ahead with the soak – and we are glad we did. At last, we have captured the heady aromas of the fruit with perfect balance in the finished wine.
Harvest Date: September 3, 2020
Bottling Date: January 14, 2021
Release Date: May 21, 2021