3 courses and 8 wines – what else to wish for?
In Malta, wine has been bottled for several thousand years, but it was only at the end of the seventies that they started to seriously produce it. Why have we never heard anything about Maltese wines? Namely, production is more or less equivalent to consumption and thus it is quite difficult to find Maltese wines outside the country. At the same time, the level and popularity of Maltese wines is on the increase, so there is actually a constant demand for growing grapes in Malta. At present, many vineyards also bring grapes from elsewhere, as it is difficult to increase productivity due to the hot climate and the rocky soil.
In Malta, all concerning wine, is done earlier than elsewhere in Europe, due to its southern location. This means that grapes are usually harvested in July-August when they are harvested elsewhere in September-October. Btw, one of my great dreams is to volunteer or otherwise experience grape harvesting and wine making.
So, to Malta’s wine experience. A couple of years ago, A.’d dad started collecting wines, and he is also taking wine training, and I and A. are self-proclaimed wine enjoyers + some of our company also value the same, so the only choice was to find a place where we could get a private wine tasting with dinner.
Our choice was Maldonado Bistro on the island of Gozo, which also offered us a walking tour of Victoria lasting couple of hours. I just love walking tours, as you get top-notch information about the place, and if you need to, ask for suggestions which places to visit and where to eat. This time the choice was already made and we didn’t have to regret it.
We were welcomed by the bistro owner, George, with a sommelier, of whom the first to prepared the dishes before our eyes and talked about the wines and the other served the wines. While downstairs there was a restaurant that was working at a normal pace, we were separated on the second floor.
The list contained three white wines, rosé, three red wines and dessert wine. Beside this, we were served three different breads / pastries made on the spot, of which my favourite was definitely rosemary bread. And apparently this was also the reason why my belly was full before the main dish. To accompany the breads they had prepared from the local ingredients red pesto and vegetable and herb paste.
The whole evening was prepared to last for three hours, so what else to do than start with the first wine. Under our wine glasses there were papers that gave us the opportunity to evaluate the fruitiness and body of the wines and note if we liked it or not. We started with the lightest and moved on to fuller ones. After the first wine, we also served an appetiser, which was a local sheep’s milk cheese served with tomatoes with freshly peeled beans, pesto and herbs. When the first wine was a little light for me, then when trying the next one in the list and closing my eyes, I could freely imagine myself in a fruit garden. However, for the third wine, I liked especially the spiciness of the oak barrel in the aftertaste. But this round really ended up with a very good rosé. I have a strange experience with them in general – I really like to drink them at a picnic or summer gathering, but most of the time their quality is below the expected.
There was always a chance to ask for a refill, as these eight wines were meant for us, and the idea would have been that all the bottles could be consumed as long as those who wished were still there. The white wines were followed by a round of red wines with a main dish – roasted vegetable pasta with capers and herbs. JUST UNBELIEVABLE! How is it possible that just roasted vegetables and capers provide such an incredible taste experience? Really on my top 3 pastas I have tried.
With the wines, I rather like fuller body red wines, so the first one was a bit light for me and the second one was perhaps too young – it was just too acidic. We were also told that Malta has few vineyards that would wait for wines to be of the best age, but most sell cellars empty as they are ready to be consumed in order to make a profit. At the same time, in Malta it is not common that restaurants buy wines and have their own wine cellar, where after a few years they will only open their wines if their age is better for drinking. The third wine was, however, divine and exactly to my taste.
For the last one to try we had a dessert wine, something similar to port wine. To be honest, it lacked sourness for me because I am not especially a sweet dessert wine person. If we order digestive in restaurants we A., I always choose something rather strong and A. rather something sweeter. Next to the wine, we were offered chocolate mousse with whipped cream and strawberries.
This three-course dinner and tasting with eight wines costs 45 €, so the price is quite reasonable and I think it was certainly worth the price. What I particularly appreciate when travelling is the opportunity to talk to local people to ask about different topics, and George was so open that we didn’t just talk about wines but also education, transport, politics and much more.
If you ever come to Malta and especially to Gozo, I would definitely recommend contacting them for wine tasting. They often change wines to offer the most diverse experience.