Raise a Glass to Maltese Wines and This Month’s International Wine Festival

Written by Albert Fenech
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In Malta, I was in a room with a number of Italian colleagues. One of them set out a number of glasses and filled them with wine. He handed each of us a glass, solemnly raised his and shouted “Brindisi” – and they all did the same! I of course complied.

Later I asked a pal what the “Brindisi” meant. Of course, as well as being a Province in southern Italy on the Adriatic Sea, my friend kindly explained that back in the time when Julius Cesare won a famous military victory, he held up a glass of wine and shouted “Brindisi” and all his thousands of troops did the same.

wine malta
Wineries like Marsovin  are making a name for themselves at home and abroad

These days, we raise a glass to friends and family, to celebrate and commemorate occasions, momentous and minute. Though Malta is the smallest independent wine-producing country in the world, our history of winemaking (and drinking) runs deep into the sun-baked Mediterranean soil, and these days, visitors can enjoy Maltese elixirs while honouring centuries of viticulture and heritage in every glass.

This month, the Malta International Wine Festival unfurls from Wednesday 19th June to Sunday 23rd at the Floriana Botanic Gardens. It’s the largest wine festival in the islands where vintners from around the globe and Malta showcase their unique flavours and traditions. There will also be live music, food, and an opportunity to taste around 300 different wines.

Malta wine
Despite the island’s small size, there’s a wide selection of white, red and rosé wines to choose from (Photo by Florival fr – CC BY-SA 3.0)

 

Wine Roots in Malta

When the Romans came into Malta after ousting the Phoenicians, they brought their own wines and grapes, olives and wheat. The Romans were followed by 200 years of Arabic Ottoman rule and of course wine and all forms of alcohol were prohibited, but farmers continued privately to make their own stash from their cultivated vines.

The arrival of the Order of the Knights of St John in 1530 brought about a complete revolution in wine development. Of deep European roots, the Knights were keen wine-lovers themselves enjoying some of the finest wines in the world at the time and would ship copious amounts of it from the mainland for them to indulge in.

Wine Blossoms

The culture of wine has evolved to new heights in Malta, though local vine growers and wine makers face stiff competition with some of the richest and most advanced wine regions in the world, and with far less experience and resources.

Independence from Britain in 1964 brought about dramatic changes to our wine culture, and it was the start of Maltese and Gozitan wines to make their own mark.  Today, grape growing and their processing into wine has become one of the main economic pillars of the Maltese Islands.

How to taste Maltese and Gozitan Wine

If you can’t make it to the festival, fear not. Malta and Gozo are certainly not “dry” places. There are thousands of bars and restaurants all serving Maltese wine with gusto. As foreign wines have an extra tax to protect local producers, it’s a good idea to drink Malta wine.

Malta and Gozo also have around a dozen wineries, two of which—Marsovin and XXX— were set up over 100 years ago, the sum of which produce several thousand of bottles annually and a total yearly production of just over 1.5 million bottles.

These volumes have a very limited export, which means only one thing: Whoever wishes to discover more about the wines of Malta and Gozo need to physically visit this wonderfully sun-blessed archipelago in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea.

Malta wine
Meridiana makes world-class wine with Maltese character. Book online

 

Wineries for Tasting

Marsovin has five private estates in Malta and Gozo, specifically intended for the production of premium quality, single-estate wines. Marsovin welcomes visitor to experience and sample premium wines. Bookings need to be made in advance on +356 7923 1919 or email cellars@marsovinwinery.com

Family-owned Delicata is the most awarded winery of Malta ( and its oldest). They host seated indoor wine-tasting sessions that last about 60 to 90 minutes and are hosted in English.

Internationally-acclaimed wines made from grapes grown exclusively in Maltese soil is the hallmark of award-winning Meridiana, a 19 hectares (47 acres) estate near Malta’s former capital of Mdina that includes the winery building, cellars, and offices. Book a tour online.

Lose yourself in the Gozitan countryside at Ta’ Mena Estate, between Victoria and Marsalforn Bay. Take a tour to sip fruity and full-bodied wines and nibble on some delicious snacks cultivated on the same grounds.

Plan a trip to Malta at www.VisitMalta.com

***

BeSeeingYou In: Malta

Good To Know: Malta wines are available at almost every restaurant

WOW! Factor: Meghan Markle once spent time exploring the wines of Malta (where her great grandmother was born and raised

Tip: Foreign wines have an extra tax to protect local production, so drink Maltese wine!

Author bio: Albert Fenech

salina46af@gmail.com

Find more travel inspiration at BeSeeingYou

Albert Fenech
Born in 1946, Albert Fenech’s family took up UK residence in 1954 where he spent his boyhood and youth before temporarily returning to Malta between 1957 and 1959 and then coming back to Malta permanently in 1965. He spent eight years as a full-time journalist with “The Times of Malta” before taking up a career in HR Management and Administration with a leading construction company building the Benghazi Hospital in Libya, later with Malta Insurance Brokers, Malta’s leading insurance Broker and finally STMicroelectronics Malta, employing 3,000 employees and Malta’s leading industrial manufacturer. Throughout he actively pursued freelance journalism and broadcasting for various media outlets covering social issues, current affairs, sports and travel. He was Publications Editor for the Malta Football Association for 25 years and has written for a number of publications both in Malta and overseas, as well as publishing two e-books.

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