If you ask for the wine list in any Maltese restaurant, at the top of the list you will find gellewza and girgentina. Chances are you will not have heard of these two native Maltese wines. While many have heard of popular Italian, French, South African and Chilean wine varieties, few know that Malta has been producing wine for centuries. It is actually the smallest wine producing country in the world.
History of Maltese wines
The Phoenicians introduced gellewza (red) and girgentina (white) grape varieties to Malta over 2000 years ago. For the longest time they were the only grapes grown in this little country in the Mediterranean and mostly for consumption purposes with very little used in wine production. In the early 1900s, the two major wineries in Malta were established and in the 1970s other grape varieties started being planted, including Chardonnay, Syrah and Merlot. The last 20 years have seen the wineries step up the quality of wines which has seen some varieties win at international competitions.
Girgentina is a light, white wine with a fruity and delicate flavor. Blend it with Chardonnay and enjoy an absolutely new wine with a unique depth. Gellewza produces wines that are more rose’ than red. It is often used for blending, frequently to soften Syrah. Buy Maltese wine at www.viniecapricci.com/
Wineries in Malta
Located in Paola, on the waterfront overlooking the Grand Harbour, Delicata is the oldest and most renowned winery in Malta having been established in 1907. Today, it is being managed by the fourth generation of the Delicata family who also run its 380 vineyards which grow both international grape varieties as well as the indigenous types. This winemaker seeks to produce quality wine to accommodate everyone’s palate. Grand Cavalier, Victoria Heights and Medina are some the wine categories in Delicata’s broad spectrum of wines that feature Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet rose, Shiraz Cabernet among others.
Marsovin is the other pioneer of Malta’s viniculture practice. It was founded in 1919 and boasts of its long tradition of producing premium single-estate wine in its five vineyards located in Malta and its sister island Gozo. It is the only winery in Malta that grows grapes in specific vineyards for the production of particular wines. Marsovin has classified its wines in the following categories: I.G.T Maltese Island Wines, D.O.K Malta Wines, D.O.K Gozo Wines, D.O.K Superior Wines, Boutique Wines and Estate Wines. Each of these categories hold some of Malta’s premium red and white wines.
- Meridiana Wine Estate
Meridiana Wine Estate started its operations in 1994 with the growing of its first vines and the construction of its winery in Ta Qali. The harvest took place in 1996 and produced a limited quantity of red and white wine. Since then, Meridiana has a portfolio of ten labels – four whites, a rose’ and five reds.
- Camilleri Wines
Owned and run by the Camilleri family, Camilleri Wines is one of the younger wineries in Malta. The winemaker was set up in 1999 and immediately started contracting vine growers to grow grapes as specified by its own team of viticulturists. At the same time, the winery started experimenting its wine making techniques with grapes harvested in Italy for five years. In 2005, Camilleri Wines began to exclusively produce wines from Maltese grapes and now produces twenty wines under seven different labels.
All the above wineries hold wine tours and wine tasting sessions. If you are a wine enthusiast and ever find yourself in Malta, why not go on a cellar tour excursion and learn all there is to know about Malta wines.