Welcome to this week’s edition of The Grape Vine.
As a professional working in the world of wine, it is essential to keep trying and tasting new wines, to keep exploring new grapes and terroirs, to build one’s knowledge, and to keep one’s palate up to date with different wine regions.
When you taste a wine, you taste not just the grapes that have gone into it, but the terroir, and the dedication with which a wine maker makes the wine. The “terroir”, is different in every region, everywhere in the world. It comprises of not just the soil type, but also micro and macro climate, the aspect and topography, amount of sunlight, distance from water bodies, etc.
On this note, a while ago I had the opportunity to taste two Maltese wines.
The first was the Astarte Vermentino (DOK Superior), 2016. It was a white wine, with green reflects which indicated the youth of the wine. It was bright, medium bodied, with a medium thick disk and was a beautiful straw yellow colour, indicating that the vineyard this is from receives plenty of sunshine.
On the nose, it had strong citrus aromas of quince and perhaps some white citrus flowers. On the palate, it had a sharp attack, a citrus evolution that lasted at least 3 minutes, and an end palate that lasted 5-6 minutes. This wine contains selected regional grapes, and at 12.5% alcohol, it’s just right- not too light, nor too heavy.
I would recommend pairing this dish with light vegetarian fare -appams with beans podiyal, or if you much choose non vegetarian fare, I would suggest pairing it with white fish in a light lemon sauce.
The next wine from Malta that I had the pleasure of tasting was the Meridiana estate’s Bel, Syrah Superior (DOK Superior) 2014. This was a red wine with purple tints, indicating once again the youth of the wine. It was bright, and with a medium thick disk. On the nose it had aromas of vanilla (indicating it has been oaked), lots of dark red and black fruit such as cherries and cassis, and pepper. On the palate, the attack is sharp. The evolution has firm tannins. There is plenty of dark fruit and pepper on the mid palate. The end palate lasts a good 6 minutes.
While this wine tasted good without decanting, it would taste even better were it decanted for 20 minutes prior to serving the wine. It will age 5-7 years in the cellar with ease, so it’s a wine that is meant to be drunk young, but not too young either.
This wine is different in that it is unfiltered and barrel aged. At 13% alcohol, it’s on the lighter side for a Syrah, but will go well with meat based dishes such as a mutton galaouti kebab on a varkhi parantha.
There is a relatively huge depth in the world of wine, and I would encourage wine drinkers and enthusiasts to try wines from lesser known regions, and countries in the world. You may be pleasantly surprised…. Your palate and your wallet might be pleased.