While you can practically pick up any bottle of any kind you like from any wine producing country in the world – from Sweden to Tasmania, China to Ecuador – Maltese wines are hardly available outside the Maltese Islands which are located in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea.
The good news is that with less than 750 hectares of suitable land to grow grape vines, tiny Malta simply can't afford to produce bad bulk wines. There's no chance of producing huge volumes to hit supermarket shelves at tightly defined price points.
Known for her heroic past, Malta must be the tiniest independent wine-producing nation in the world. Here, making wine is a legacy that goes back to Phoenician times. However, until the late 1980s, Malta, the rock in the heart of the Mediterranean, was as much in touch with modern viticulture as Alcatraz with San Francisco.
Internationally Awarded Wines
Today is a different story. Maltese winemakers skillfully craft interesting, tasty wines that have received international acclaim. Malta's skilled producers are forging a growing respect for their fresh wines of unprecedented, new character. Given the small quantity of exported wines, skeptics will still have to travel to sunny Malta to convince themselves of the worth of Maltese boutique wines.
The driving force behind today's Maltese wine scene consists of less than a handful of wineries: the quality conscious and ceaselessly innovating Delicata winery (Malta's most internationally awarded, family-owned producer), followed by the new joint venture CassarCamilleri (formerly known as Marsovin and Camilleri Wines), and a small estate called Meridiana.
Vines are still planted on narrow terraces, smaller in size than a football field and on poor rocky soils. In fact, the Maltese wine craft is still best described as uneconomical and labour-intensive. It's heroic wine-growing but with unprecedented care and precision. Indeed, there is renewed enthusiasm. Cellars are equipped with the latest state-of-the-art technology and there are noticeable change in vineyards, too.
The types of grape varieties found in Maltese vineyards has changed dramatically over the last two decades. Malta vineyards are now home to new plantings of over 20 international grape varieties that were previously uncommon to the Islands.