The streets of Valetta glitter in burnt orange as the sun kisses the historic Baroque architecture goodnight in a breathtaking finale. Sitting in a quaint café amidst the cobbled streets, we munch on delicious customary pastizzi and people-watch as the streets fill with passers by finishing work.
This being my first time in Malta, I was quite entranced by the magic of the fortified capital, which was amplified by the gentle lighting, and sharing the moment with a good Maltese friend, I had the perfect guide. The suggestion for the evening was The Delicata Wine Festival, which was in its 10th year and had been growing in strength and success alongside Malta’s reputation for good wine. As a lover of the grape, and with a particular interest in the renaissance of the Maltese wine industry, I was looking forward to the experience.
A heavenly location
The festival inaugurates the beginning of the Maltese grape harvest and is stunningly located amidst the Barrakka Gardens, a Maltese sight in itself. Considered to be Valletta’s most beautiful park, the garden was a gift from an eighteenth century Italian Knight. Situated breathtakingly on the highest and most impressive point of the city walls, the gardens offer a magnificent view over the Grand Harbour and the old towns of Senglea and Vittoriosaa, making for a remarkable venue, steeped in rich history.
Nectar for the Gods
The festival itself attracts thousands of visitors over its four-day period. Guests simply pay €10.00 a glass and can drink and try as many wines as they like. Whether your preference is for a glass of inexpensive dry white wine or a top of the range barrel matured Gran Cavalier red, the price remains the same. With an extensive array of stalls offering so many styles of wine and grape varieties, the festival is every wine lover’s dream. Moving through the striking gardens, we sampled quality wine brands such as Gran Cavalier, Grand vin de Hauteville, Piazza Regina, Medina, and of course Delicata’s Frizzantes, all produced from locally grown grape varieties. The quality of all the Delicata wines we tasted was nothing short of outstanding. The whites all showed good varietal characteristics and were crisp and refreshing, while the reds boasted a smooth quality with soft tannins, ideal for drinking when just released, but also with good maturing potential. I was impressed.
The Mediterranean was the birthplace of viticulture and the vast majority of the most famous wines in the world were once produced under the Mediterranean’s ideal climatic conditions. For 4,000 years, the Phoenicians, the Romans, the Knights from the Order of St. John of Jerusalem and the Maltese people have continued to grow vines and produce wine. Malta is now witnessing a revival in this ancient art, as viticulture positions itself to become one of the island’s leading agricultural activities. At the forefront of this revival, it would seem, is the island’s oldest and largest wine producer, Delicata. The vineyard’s dedication has paid off, and as the festival highlighted, resulted in the gold, silver and bronze awards at International wine competitions organised under the patronage of the O.I.V.
Sitting beneath the summer night sky, feasting on food and wine in the historic setting of the Saluting battery, I relished the moment. Magnificent views of the Grand Harbour and the floodlit ancient 3 cities surrounded us, mouthwatering selections of Maltese dishes filled our table and fine Maltese wine flowed like water. It could almost have been a scene from a classic movie, one I was pleased to have a part in.
The summer months in Malta feature a collection of wine festivals in breathtaking locations across the country’s archipelago.
- Delicata Wine Festival Valetta: On 9,10th,11th and 12th August in the gorgeous Barrakka Gardens, Valetta. Fine wine, food and live music in historic surroundings.
- Delicata Wine Festival Gozo: On 31st August & 1st, 2nd September the wine festival will take place in the viticultural heart of Gozo, in the idyllic Gozitan village of Nadur.
- Marsovin Summer Wine Festival 2012: On the 13th, 14th and 15th July 2012 Marsovin is planning to hold the Fifth edition of the Marsovin Summer Wine Festival at Hastings Gardens, Valletta. The aim of the event is not only to promote Marsovin’s wines but also to present a cultural event tied to a Mediterranean theme.