Malvar is a white grape variety typical of the area around Madrid. The fairly large and loose bunches are made up of large, oval grapes, yellowish-green in color. Malvar was first mentioned as being typical of the province of Madrid in 1885. In 1914, García de los Salmones noted that Malvar was cultivated not only in Madrid but also Guadalajara (Mondéjar), Cuenca and Villanueva de la Vera (Cáceres). In 1932, in the archives of “El Encìn,” Garcia de los Salmones described the Madrid Malvar as a “late-budding” variety. This raises the suspicion that Malvar was being confused with Airén, as the former ac-tually buds early, while the latter has a very late budding.
Despite its early maturation, Malvar produces wines with a higher alcohol level than other white varieties grown in the central region, like Airén, Jaén, Chelva and Pardillo. Perhaps this is why Madrid’s wines became famous in the 16th century, a period dur-ing which wine quality was closely linked to a high alcohol level.
Before the phylloxera epidemic at the end of the 19th century, Malvar was grown to-gether with Airén, because the former contributed aromatic quality and a high alcohol level while the latter ensured an adequate yield. They were planted in a ratio of one Malvar plant to every four Airén vines. In the post-phylloxera period Malvar practically disappeared from its historic cultivation area, remaining only in the south of Aranjuez (Madrid) and Dos Barrios (Toledo). As Airén was more productive, this variety was re-planted more frequently, but because the fame of Madrid’s wine was linked primarily to Malvar, both varieties began to be called by that name.
The grapes from the variety are still used today to create blends with red wines, and historically it was rare to make single-variety wines with Malvar. The total surface area planted with Malvar in Spain is 39 hectares, all within Castilla-La Mancha and Madrid. Since 1994, measures have been taken to revive this traditional variety, even though there is little commercial demand for it. Currently it is grown in the areas of Aranjuez, Titulcia, Pozuelo del Rey, Villaconejos, Guadalajara, Cuenca and Toledo.Back to the archive >