Monday, October 15, 2012

Malta Makes Wines?

Well yes, yes they do.  And some good ones at that. 

Last night I met with Karl from Meridiana Wine Estate to discuss Maltese wines and how they can fit into the Hong Kong market. 

I don't know about you, but once I googled Malta to figure out where it was, I immediately assumed cheap bulk wine.  And apparently that was true until a forward thinking wine trader decided to take advantage of the climate, terroir, and technology to create something worth drinking.

Malta is only 47 kilometers long by 23 kilometers wide.

Malta has a population of 450,000 people. 

 Malta has 320 days of sunshine a year. 

'Malta' comes from the Greek word for honey. 

Malta has five major wine producers. 

Maltese wine production dates back to the Phoenicians two thousand years ago.

But it just started getting good in the past few decades (according to some)... 

Despite my preconceived notions, there are only 2 crazy funky grapes here; Gellewza and Ghirgentina.  There are also quite a few Italian varietals including Nero D'Avola and Vermentino, but the predominate varietals include:

Cabernet Sauvignon

Karl walked me through five of their wines.  We started with their entry level Fenici line.  Fenici is the word for the Phoenician boats used all those thousands of years ago. 

First up, a blend of Vermentino & Viognier.  Good body with notes of citrus, melon, it was crisp and aromatice. 

Next was the Astarte made from 100% Vermentino.  Again, loved this wine and I can definitley see the potential for Asian food pairings.  Thai curry anyone?

Third, back the Fenici for a blend of Syrah and Merlot.  This is just a people pleaser.  Blackberry and spice notes, it managed to go down easily with its soft tannins.  Karl informed me these wines are not meant for aging, but instead for consumption within two years.  And you can taste that.  They are fruity, subtle, refined without the powerhouse tannins required for aging.

Second to last we enjoyed the Melqart, a Bordeaux blend of Cab and Merlot.  This burst with aromas and flavors of dark chocolate.  This was definitely my favorite of the bunch!  This is also the most popular in Malta.

The reds
Finally we rounded off the evening with Nexus, a 2009 100% Merlot based wine.  This was deep purple, with a big red nose, with flavors of caramel and spice, and a long lingering finish. Impeccable. 

I'm looking forward to seeing Maltese wines make their way into the HK market.  What do you think HK?  Are you up for it?

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