Stuart Walton, who according to Tom Cannavan’s wine-pages is “one of Britain's most gifted, but also most controversial wine writers” visited Malta and Gozo last week and took time out to visit Delicata and taste some of its wines. Stuart, who is working on the fourth edition of his World Encyclopedia of Wine, was given a guided tour of Delicata’s brand new grape receiving area and winemaking facility. He was also given a tasting of the new 2009 vintage wines straight from the fermentation tanks. The wines he tasted included a 2009 Vermentino, which will eventually be blended with Zibibbo and go into the winery’s Medina range. The 2009 Victoria Heights D.O.K. Gozo Chardonnay and the two indigenous wines Girgentina and Gellewza Rose were also tasted. Finally, two robust 2009 reds, the Gran Cavalier Merlot and Syrah, both of which will go off and spend 12 months maturing in 225 litre French barriques before eventually being bottled and released onto the market.
Stuart Walton’s work, as described on wine-pages.com “frequently touches on taboo issues and sets out to debunk accepted truths. Though reference books like his "World Encyclopedia of Wine" have established his credentials as a knowledgeable communicator on wine, Stuart is a highly political animal whose most recent books have strayed into areas that have made some sections of the wine trade and press a little nervous. "You Heard It Through the Grapevine" is subtitled "shattering the myths of the wine business", whilst "Out of It - a cultural history of intoxication", looks at drink, drugs and altered states of consciousness. For wine-pages Stuart will offer plenty of strong opinion”.
Stuart however is no newcomer to Delicata wines, haven written a piece in the 1996 October issue of Wine Magazine commenting on their award winning wines in the 1996 London International Wine Challenge. He wrote “And for those of you fascinated by Strange But True Facts, last year’s Commendation for Malta’s Emmanuel Delicata has now turned to Bronze. Honours go to his 1995 Chardonnay and Green Label medium dry blend. Malta’s tiny wine industry still relies to some extent on grapes brought in from Italy (in this case Fruili) but the technical ability is clearly there. The only way is up”.
Since those comments over 13 years ago the technical ability at Delicata, as predicted, has gone up! The medal count for one has increased to an impressive 75, many of those being Silvers and Gold and the recent technical investment of €2.1 million is testament to the faith Delicata has in the future of its winemaking skills. Due to a lot of hard work in the mid 1990’s the viticultural situation in the wine industry has also changed dramatically and although Italian grapes are still used in many Table Wines, the quality wines of Malta and Gozo (IGT / DOK) are all now made entirely from Malta grown grapes. So in a relatively short period of time we have seen massive changes in the Maltese Wine Industry and those changes, most importantly, can be witnessed by the consumer, time after time, in the quality of the liquid in the glass.