Malvasia (Istriana), as far as it is known, originates from Greece. Cuttings were traded in the 14th century by the Venetian merchants, more than likely through the port at Trieste, less than an hour’s drive from the border of Croatia, and near the breathtakingly beautiful Istrian coast.
This variety is grown throughout Europe and the Americas, with small plantings in Australia. Traditionally the variety was blended with Trebbiano, a variety that was once widely grown in the warmer regions of Australia. In Italy, it is grown more around the Milano region. Malvasia was primarily grown to make a sweeter style of white wine, similar to white Tokay or white port, also known as Madeira.
Nick Butler, Steve’s very good University friend living in the UK, often vacationed in Istria from where Steve’s family originates. Nick raved about what a fantastical wine Malvasia made.
Nick motivated Steve to visit Istria and he too fell in love with the country and Malvasia. Soon after, a plan was hatched and 6 rows were added to our Yellow chardonnay block. 2018 was the first wine made and it quickly sold out. There was not enough fruit from the 2019 vintage to make a worthwhile amount so the faithful have been patiently waiting, until now! Steve has carefully crafted the next 100% Malvasia biodynamic Amphora from the 2020 vintage now available to those lovers of skin fermented whites and or those who enjoy thrill of trying alternative varieties.
Unfamiliar with term Amphora? This is the name of an egg shaped vessel used to ferment the white Malvasia grapes on their skins. Our Amphora is a ceramic vessel made by the ‘Living Forms’ folks based in the Byron Bay region. The benefits of the ceramic amphora are the ability of the shell to perspire, allowing self-cooling during fermentation. This is not possible in a concrete, timber or glazed clay amphora.
Let’s get back to how we make this wine and what it taste and smells like. Simple, natural and traditional winemaking is employed. The biodynamic grapes are hand harvested weighed then processed through the destemmer, removing the stalks but the berries remain whole this is now called must. The must is then conveyed into the Amphora where it sits until the natural yeasts spontaneously start to ferment. Once fermented it is basket pressed straight to barrel. It is then left on full solids until it’s ready to bottle.
The nose of the 2020 Stefano Lubiana Malvasia Amphora Biodynamic is one that is lifted with hints of musk, marmalade, and crème brûlée. The palate is rich and voluptuous with honeycomb, iced tea, sour plums and spice. This wine finishes lean and clean with a dusty minerality and some skin grip that lingers on the palate.
There is no rush to drink this wine once opened. It will keep for well over a few days, and is resistant to oxidation.