Malvasia is a white dessert wine from the south of La Palma. The grapes are harvested late, when they’re half way to raisins, so the juice is very concentrated and very sweet, and the wine they produce is to strong and too sweet to drink with fish (or to drink like a fish). In fact it’s similar to Maderia or a sweet sherry – more something you’d have at the very end of a meal with the local sweet almond biscuits.
In Shakespear’s day Malvasia wine was known as Malmsey, and it was very popular indeed. In the play Richard III, the Duke of Clarence is drowned in a butt of Malmsey, which seems like a dreadful waste of good wine to me.
Malvasia comes from Fuencaliente in the south of the island, and most of the vines are trained very low to the ground to prevent the grapes from dying out, which must make for back-breaking work. I love the stuff.
Bodegas Teneguia have a new, extra-special Malvasia on sale, where the grapes are selected by hand and the finl wine is aged for 16 years. It’s called “Calidad Estelar” – Star Quality, in honour of La Palma’s amazing dark skies. It seems to be winning prizes all over the place. Most recently, it won “Best Canarian Wine” at Agrocanarias2012, and a gold medal at the international Wine Festival Vinalies Internationales 2012 in Paris.
Obviously I’m not the only one who thinks it’s heaven in a glass.