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Malvasia is an ancient family of grapes that includes a diverse collection of varieties. These grapes are capable of producing wine of any feasible color in dry, sparkling and sweet styles. Malvasia is believed to be of Greek origin and has been commercially important in the Mediterranean for more than 2000 years. The name Malvasia is a derivation of the coastal Greek town of Monemvasia where the Venetians had a strategically important fortress and trading post during the time of their empire. Today Malvasia is produced in Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Croatia, Slovenia and the United States. Malvasia is particularly known for the Malmsey wine which is made from various members of the Malvasia group on the Portuguese island of Madeira. Malmsey is characterized by its dark coloring and rich, ripe and nutty flavors. Other regions known for their production of Malvasia include Lipari (off Sicily's northeastern coast), the Canary Islands and Greece’s Aegean group. In terms of flavor and aroma, Malvasia wines typically have light stonefruit flavors and a pronounced floral bouquet.
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