maltese wine

Vineyards to Visit During your stay in Malta and Must-Try Maltese Wines

  • Dec 15, 2018

Whilst in Malta one should visit a Maltese vineyard & enjoy a glass or two of these popular Maltese wines!

Malta is considered to be one of the smallest wine-producing nations in the world even though it has been producing wine for over 2000 years.  The people of Malta themselves drink almost all the wine that the handful of wineries on the island produces, so very little of it is exported. So to truly enjoy Maltese wine, you must take a trip to Malta and the local vineyards.

Malta’s wine history

Malta’s wine history is as eventful as it cultural and military history.  Wine was thought to be first introduced to Malta by the Phoenicians. The Greeks and Romans helped to evolve the Maltese wine offering, and then the trade was almost forgotten in Malta’s Muslim years, then brought back to life by the Knights of the Order of Saint John and then almost destroyed by the British who replaced the vines with cotton.  The industry has finally been embedded within the culture of the nation in the last 20 years following Malta becoming a Member of the EU in 2004.

Since 2004 Malta’s wine production has moved on leaps and bounds. Firstly, there has been a focus on international grape varieties such as Syrah, Merlot and Chardonnay. This has been mainly due to the influx of foreign investment, including the considerable wine weight of the house of Antinori of Tuscany. Winemakers from France and further afield are also on board, which has resulted in modern wineries popping up across the landscape. Secondly, the native grapes of Ġellewża and Girgentina, which were once dismissed as being of inferior quality have been snatched back from the brink of extinction in the last decade.  Finally, the blending of more widely known varieties with Malta’s indigenous grapes is creating a whole new generation that is fast becoming Malta’s wine signature.

Popular Maltese wines

“Girgentina is fruity and delicate, with good acidity: a light wine,” says Matthew Delicata of Delicata, a winery started by this family in 1907. “Then you blend Girgentina with Chardonnay and you have a totally new wine.  Chardonnay adds depth.”

Ġellewża, is a type of red grape, that creates the palate hints of prune and cherry and yields wines that are closer to rosé than to red. It’s commonly used for sparkling pink wines, which are very much envogue.

Marsovin is the other major player in Malta’s burgeoning wine industry that has never abandoned the homegrown grapes and is currently experimenting with sun-drying Ġellewża to give the grapes more energy, as the Italians do with Valpolicella.

With the excitement and buzz around Maltese wine, once you are on the island trying these varieties is easy, as they are on every wine list and most of them are reasonably priced.  The growing number of vineyards across the island are also looking to promote Maltese wine, its history and its future with the many tourists that holiday on the sun filled isle.  The major wineries organise guided tours and depending on the season the tours cover the entire production process from fermentation through to the ageing process.  They also include the history of wine making on the island and of course the all-important opportunity to taste and buy the wonderful vintages.

Tours and tastings not to be missed

The oldest wine maker in Malta, Delicata, welcomes visitors to its cellars where they offer tutored tastings of their wines between November and May.

They also hold Wine Festivals and events from the stunning location on Valletta’s Grand Harbour. Visit their website for further details, www.delicata.com.

The other big name, Marsovin Cellars, also offer tours of their “Ageing Cellars” with a walk through the 400-year-old Cellars.  The wine tasting is held in their own wine bar, where the expert staff guide you through the varietals accompanied by a selection of local delicacies.  There is also the opportunity to purchase some wine to drink as the sun sets on your balcony too.  Marsovin also hold a Wine Festival and host several events at their Cellars. Visit their website for further details www.marsovin.com.

Meridiana Wine Estate lies perfectly below Malta’s medieval, walled capital of Mdina.  The estate’s 19-hectare site at Ta’Qali is in the beating heart of Malta’s agricultural community and provides a tranquil setting for a tour of one of the island’s most notable winemakers.  A tour of this impressive estate includes a visit to the fermentation hall and the underground cellar, both of which are set within a picture-perfect Maltese farmhouse.  For many, the highlight of the tour is at the end with the tasting of the sublime wines on the panoramic terrace overlooking the vineyards that yield the grapes.  Visit their website for further details, www.meridiana.com.mt.

Maltese Wines not to be missed

There is a myriad of Maltese wines to try on the island however, here are a few of our favourites to get you started.  Isis Chardonnay by Meridiana, which has a beautiful straw-yellow hue with a pale green rim.  It has a fresh, complex bouquet of grapefruit with gentle floral notes.  The well-structured citrus taste leaves a pleasantly acidic aftertaste on the palate, one to be enjoyed again and again.

Nexus Merlot by Meridiana has a beautiful ripe cherry and plum aroma and is a rich, well-structured wine with fruit flavours, soft tannins and a long finish to savour.  The wine is aged for 10 months in French oak barrels and after bottling it rests for a further 8 months.

The blend of Chardonnay and Girgentina by Marsovin is their 1919 White.  It’s an elegant and complex wine which is full of character and smooth on the palate. It has a well-balanced aroma of citrus, mangoes and apples and a sweet spicy undertone with a pleasant finish that lingers beautifully.

Ġellewża Frizzante by Delicata is a démi-sec rosé Frizzante from the Maltese native red grape Ġellewża. There is a subtle hint of sweetness in this glass full of sunshine and bags of fruity goodness that dances on the tongue.

Finally, Astarte Vermentino Meridiana has a vibrant yellow tone, with its intense aromas of tropical and citrus fruits it has a pleasantly acidic finish.  The 2017 vintage is not one to be missed.

Where to stay in Malta

While you are trying all these tempting wines, where should you spend your stay in Malta? Well, Casa Ellul on Old Theatre Street in the heart of Valletta is truly the perfect hotel offering luxurious boutique accommodation in the perfect location.  Overlooking the Carmelite Church, Casa Ellul is at the centre of vibrant city life.  It blends together the classic grandeur of old Valletta and yet gives it a contemporary edge that speaks of Valletta’s present.  Casa Ellul is within easy reach of all that one would want from a stay in Valletta, shops, bars, restaurants as well as the history of the city to soak up whilst sightseeing.