The Mediterranean lifestyle is well-known as one which gives prominence to fresh natural food, good drink, and healthy living. Any Maltese worth his salt, when asked how he’d rather spend his ideal day, would include a large plate of tasty food and a chilled wine into the bargain.
Malta is a country rich in its warm climate and yet quite cold and rainy between the months of November and April – the optimal weather conditions, in fact, for the production of grapevines. Malta is a country which prizes its vineyards and its wine-makers, so much so, that throughout the year there are numerous festivals and events promoting and showcasing Maltese viticulture. No good meal is complete without a strong robust red wine, a crisp white wine or a delicate effervescent Rose, depending on one’s meal and palate.
Some international grape varieties grown in the Maltese islands include; the Cabernet, Merlot, Sauvignon, Syrah, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. Then, there are the indigenous varieties of grape, of which I personally prefer the Gellewza and the Ghirghentina. Local main wineries even organise guided tours and tastings within their establishments, in order to cater to those who are interested in knowing more about the process of fermentation, as well as the ageing process of wine-making.
Summer is a particularly optimal time of the year to celebrate and enjoy the local wine-making culture. There have already been, in fact, a number of festivals around Malta and Gozo giving both locals and tourists the opportunity to enjoy themselves while tasting some of the newest, as well as most prestigious, vintages available. Most of these wine-festivals are yearly staples on the Maltese calendar.
All such festivals generally offer not just wine-tasting stations and opportunities, but full-blown family entertainment, including live acts and performances, food stalls, wine bars, wine educational areas, collectors’ wine glasses, as well as a number of competitions, children’s areas, and even local artisan markets. The main wine festivals this summer included:
- The Marsovin Wine Summer Festival – This festival took place between the 15 – 17 of July at Hastings Gardens in Valletta, and was hosted by Marsovin Ltd, Malta’s largest wine producer. This annual event, overlooking majestic views of Valletta’s bastions, is highly cultural and entertaining, offering a myriad of different musicians and bands stationed in different areas, as well as showcasing over 30 different wines from grapes gown around Malta and Gozo. All you have to do is pay a token fee of €15 at the entrance, which will be given back in wine tokens and a free Premium festival wine glass.
- The Delicata Classic Wine Festival – took place between 4 – 7 August at the Upper Barrakka Gardens in Valletta. This was the 15th year the festival took place. Top local bands performed throughout the four nights, typical Maltese cuisine was on offer, and there was also a dining area on the Saluting Battery. The event was hosted by Emanuel Delicata Winemakers Ltd, who provided more than 20 wines for sampling. Entrance was free – one simply had to purchase a wristband and a souvenir glass upon entrance if one wished to sample the wines free of charge.
- The Delicata Classic Wine Festival in Gozo – Nadur, found within the green viticultural heart of Gozo, set the stage for this festival, also hosted by Delicata Winemakers. The Festival took place between 19 – 21 August and brought together local entertainers, great food and exquisite wines. Surely a weekend to remember. Again, entrance was free but one had to purchase a wristband and souvenir glass in order to taste as many wines and varieties as one wished.
- The Marsovin Grape Harvest Festival – which took place between 13 – 14 August at the Marsovin Marsini Estate in Marsaxlokk, was a new event this year. Its aim was to celebrate the grape harvest vintage for 2016, while allowing patrons to admire the Marsovin vineyards as well as take a guided tour. Music and food were plentifully provided. Tickets were quite limited and were sold on a first come, first served basis at €25 each, which included the Entrance, Wineyard Tour, a wineglass to take home, and free-flowing Marsovin premium wine throughout the evening. Quite a bargain!
- Summer is not over yet! Next up is the 12th edition of the Qormi Wine Festival, which will be taking place between the 2nd and 3rd of September in Main Street, Qormi, next to Saint George’s Parish Church. This will surely be a massive event replete with good wines, local foods, live entertainment, as well as showcasing local historical and cultural treasures like the majestic Parish Church, and a World War I shelter, which will be open to the public. The Qormi Wine Festival will be teaming up with Marsovin to present a number of exclusive wines, which will include Cittadella, La Vallette, Verdala Rose` and La Torre, amongst others. There will also be a number of Wine Tasting Sessions, as well as a Wine Competition for people who produce home-made wines. The Qormi Wine Festival is organised by Kumitat Festi Esterni, with the help of Qormi Local Council and the Secretariat for Agriculture and Fisheries.