Total Pageviews


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Taste of Italy: Campania (1)

Mount Vesuvius.
CAMPANIA - The Campania region of South Western Italy, has historically been plagued not only by the eruptions of Mount Vesuvius, the last recorded massive eruption which had destroyed the city of Pompeii occured in 79 AD, but it is still rocked even today by frequent earthquakes. Thus the Campania region has both lived in fear of Vesuvius for centuries, as well as having benefitted greatly when it comes to agriculture. Years and years of eruptions have left the sandstone soils rich with deposits of volcanic ash, a combination that seems to suit grapevines extremely well. Rainfall in the region is ample on the hills of Irpina, and coupled with cooler temperatures than surrounding areas, Campania provides an exceptional region for grape cultivation.

The fertile and lush vineyards of Irpinia.
Campania is renowned for the South's most impressive grape varieties, namely Aglianico for robust red wines; and Fiano Di Avellino and Greco Di Tufo for crispy and citrusy white wines. These grape varieties are referred to in Campania as the archeological varieties.

The Aglianico of Irpinia.
Aglianico is an important Italian red grape variety, that together with Piedmont's Nebbiolo and Tuscany's Sangiovese, is one of the robust and noble grapes of Italy. In the same way as Nebbiolo is famous for Barolo and Barbaresco, and Sangiovese (in various clones) is famous for Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino, Aglianico's DOCG wine is known as Taurasi, which like the former four wines has to be produced under very exacting and strict rules and methods.

One of the most renowned winemakers in Campania, and whose wines we are reviewing in this feature is:
FEUDI DI SAN GREGORIO of Sorbo Serpico, in Campania's Irpinia region.
This company was started in 1986, six years after a massive earthquake had destroyed other winemaking estates in 1980. This winemaker in the 25 years of its existence, has achieved a very enviable reputation for producing a range of excellent wines, some of which are among those most highly acclaimed in Italy.

FEUDI DI SAN GREGORIO's production of Aglianico red wine is mainly concentrated around four exceptional wines branded as follows:

The Premium Aglianico Selections from Feudi di San Gregorio.
Apart from these four Aglianico wines, this estate produce and extraordinary, icon wine from MERLOT grapes that are grown and harvested in the heart of Irpina. This unique and prestigous interpretaion of this international variety produced by Feudi di San Gregorio, in brandeD under the name of PATRIMO.

For this first feature about Campania, as well as of this winemaker we are just reviewing here, the five red wines listed above. A selection of the top white wines will be reviewed in part 2.

Patrimo 2006 Merlot IGT
1. PATRIMO Campania Rosso IGT 2006.

The two best Merlots in the world come either from France or from Italy. This Italian Merlot, grown on the hills of Irpina, coupled with volcanic soil, weather, rain and sun, is tremendous and this wine fits this description admirably.

PATRIMO is produced from 100% Merlot, grown and harvested in the best estates of Irpina.
After destemming and crushing, maceration and alcoholic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks, followed by a period of malolactic fermentation in wood.

The wine is then matured for 24 months in French oak barriques of medium toast.
The wine is then bottled unfiltered and spends a minimum of 10 months aging in the bottle under controlled conditions in the winemaker's cellars prior to release. The 2006 vintage is the latest release of this wine and is still very young, although supple enough to be enjoyed now, this vintage requires more aging in the bottle to evolve and develop further.
Almost black ruby red in colour. Perfumed with liquorice, coffe beans, dark chocolate, vanilla from the oak barriques and ripe plum. On the palate it is full-bodied, the taste is reminiscent of of dark chocolate and blackberry. Tannins are sweet and mellow, with good balance. Long finish with an aftertaste and sensations of plum, cherry and spices A robust Merlot that pairs well roast, grilled and stewed red meats.

Alcohol content: 14.5%
Price range: Eur78


Feudi di San Gregorio Serpico 2005
2.  SERPICO Dei Feudi Di San Gregorio 2005 Irpinia Aglianico DOC.

Produced from 100% AGLIANICO grapes, harvested exclusively from patriarch, extremely old vines.
Fermentation and maceration takes place in stainless steel tanks for about three weeks, after which the wine is matured for 18 months in medium-toasted French oak barriques.
The wine is then bottled unfiltered and is aged in the bottle for a further 8 months prior to release.

Serpico, is a full-bodied wine, and has a deep, intense ruby red colour. Bouquet is long and complex cherry, spices and rich dark chocolate. On the palate it has a distinctive taste of blackberries, spicy minerality and toasted oak. Finish is persistent with good density, firm and admirable balance between its tannins, structure acidity and alcohol.

Alcohol content: 13%
Price range: Eur46.


Piano di Monte Vergine Taurasi Riserva 2002.

2002 was niot a year that led itself to great vintages in Italy, due to boisterous and adverse weather conditions in Italy through that year. For this reason the winemaker did not produce the prestigious SERPICO for 2002, but instead carefully selected grapes from the very best vineyards and the oldest patriarch vines earmarked for the SERPICO,  which were handpickedto produce this 2002 TAURASI RISERVA. This vintage resulted in a slightly lighter wine than a typical full vintage year, although still quite a powerfull wine. This can be described as a truly excellent effort for 2002.

Produced from 100% AGLIANICO grapes. Fermentation and maceration occurs in stainless steel tanks for a period of three weeks, after which the wine was matured for 18 months in French oak barriques of medium-toast. The wine is bottled unfiltered, and aged in the bottle for a further 24 months.
Taurasi Riserva, must be aged for four years before release, but notwithstanding this, full development and evolvement of this wine is expected to be complete in ten years time from the vintage year.

The wine is dark and dense ruby red in colour, full-bodied, unfiltered and powerful. On the nose the wine eminates sensations of ripe blackcurrant, blasckberry, cherry and pepper with hints of balsamico. Very strong on the nose when the bottled is opened, and requires breathing for at least one hour or decanting to be fully appreciated.
In the mouth, this wine has a mineral and fruity feel, balanced and elegant. Firm tannins slightly dry, robust lingering finish and aftertaste of liquorice.

Alcohol content: 13%
Price range: Eur37.


Taurasi DOC Dei Feudi Di San Gregorio 2006
4. TAURASI DOC 2005 AND 2006 -Dei Feudi Di San Gregorio.

These are two excellent examples of this Taurasi from two good vintage years.

Produced from 100% Aglianico grapes grown and harvested from the hills of Taurasi, Pietradefusi and Sant Angelo all-Esca.

Fermentation and maceration takes place in stailess steel tanks for aboit three weeks.
Matured in French oak barriques for 18 months, after which tyhe wine spends another 9 months aging, unfiltered, in the bottle prior to release in the estate's cellars.

Dense, ruby red in colour with aromas of cherries, cinamon, vanilla and blacl pepper integrated with the oak from the barriques. Good balancing acidity with a rasberry, hazlenut and almonds palate and a lingering finish reminiscent of  ripe red cherries. Medium tro full-bodied, a very good Taurasi.

Alcohol content: 13.5%
Price range: Eur 24.


Rubrato Aglianico 2008.
6. RUBRATO -Irpinia Alglianico 2008 DOC.

This wine is produced to express the pleasure of Aglianico wine in its youth, produced in the modern style.
Hand harvested in late October, the grapes are de-stalked and crushed into stainless steel tanks for fermentation at a controlled temperature of 26Deg.C for one week after which it spends two weeks in maceration. Maturation takes place for 8 to 10  months in stainless steel tanks. After bottling the wine is further aged for another 6 months in the bottle.

Ruby red with aromas of black fruit, liquorice typical of Aglianico and blackberry. Medium bodied on the palate, full of ripe fruit, well balanced structure consisting of well rounded tannins and spicy balsamic nuances.Nice soft finish.
Can be drank young and is ready now, but it can still evolve and develop for some five more years.

Alcohol content: 13.5%
Price range: Eur12.


These wines are still young and can all develop and evolve and soften further in the bottle for a number of years. Long aging is possible for the Patrimo and Serpico. The Taurasi's can age well beyond 10 years to 15 years from the vintage date. Rubrato 2008 up to 2014.
For best results if drank now, as these are all robust wines,they are to be opend between 1 to 3 hours before drinking. Decanting is also advisable so that the wines are aerated adeqautely to maximize exposure to the surrounding air so that their aromas will open up, the flavour profile will soften and mellow and for the overall characteristics to improve and be enjoyed fully.

Very rare beef fillet steak.
Lamb cutlet
FOOD PAIRING: Roast red meats; prime steaks; poultry; game; grilled and roast lamb; aged and strong cheese.

Part two of this feature about Campania will cover the white wine selections from Feudi Di San Gregorio, namely Campanaro 2009; Fiano Di Avellino 2009 and Greco di Tufo 2009.

Feudi Di San Gregorio Cellars - Campania.

Nectar sediment from the Taurasi Riserva.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Taste of Malta:The Wine Selections in Pictures (5).

The following  are a set of photographs of selected wines produced by the leading winemakers in Malta who participated in our Malta wine reviews. Wines are obtained directly from the winemakers cellars, regardless of country and/or region, so that it is ensured that wines are in pristine condition prior to our review and rating. Wines that are taste-tested and found not to reach our exacting quality ratings, and which score less than 85 points are not featured on this website. For full information about our rating format, go to the "Introduction" feature. Just click on it in the Index and you're there.

Ta' Mena Premium Collection -Gozo.

Meridiana Wines of Malta.
The wines of Malta from Camilleri Wines.
Gran Cavalier and Gran Vin de Hauteville from Delicata.
Parts 1 to 5 of the topic "A Taste of Malta", are aimed to guide you to make good choices when selecting wines from Malta. The various parts are divided as follows: Part 1 - The Blends; Part 2 -The Blends, Gozo; Part 3- The White Wines; Part 4 - The Red Varietals; Part 5- The Wine Selections. Keep up to date with us and enjoy.

Reno Spiteri.

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Taste of Malta: The Red Varietals (4)

Cabernet Sauvignon Grapes.
 One of the most frustrating issues when, as a wine reviewer, I am researching a wine is the lack of information that is sometimes left out by various winemakers with reference to the production processes applied to make certain wines. Alas, winemakers in Malta, for some reason or other do not supply this information as if the production of wine is a well guarded secret that no one but themselves know about or have access too.

Merlot Grapes.

Syrah Grape on the vine.
 When one buys wine, especially if it is labeled "premium", and/or when the price tag per bottle is a bit on the high side, wine lovers make it a point to know what they are purchasing: the quality, the winemaker and the production process. Every wine is made basically, by crushing grapes, fermenting the juice, maturing and bottling. Adding a little information with reference to the vinification process: fermentation, maceration and/or malolactic fermentation, and duration; whether or not fermentation is carried out in barriques or stainless steel tanks and duration; oak aging and duration; aging in the bottle prior to release and duration; etc., etc., are all relevant information that serious winemakers supply and provide, through pdf's on their websites or through a direct request. Alas, once again, this information is not forthcoming from winemakers in Malta, which is a pity, as lack of information and disclosures mean lack of scoring points in ratings, and maybe moves the consumer, especially if he is buying wine to age in his cellar, to pick a wine which he knows much more about, rather than just the grape variety. I do certainly hope, that winemakers will take this suggestion on board.

This feature is designed to highlight the premium red wines of the two participating winemakers in this topic, namely: MERIDIANA WINE ESTATE and EMM. DELICATA & SONS LTD. The following six excellent wines have been taste-tested, reviewed and rated during a blind tasting session.

Meridiana Nexus Merlot 2007

This wine is produced from 100% Merlot grapes, grown and harvested in its own estate on the Meridiana Wine Estate. The wine is barrel aged and bottled unfiltered to maintain and preserve the wines full-body and fruit flavours.
This wine has an intense dark red colour, and has a rich intense nose of black cherry, plums, dark chocolate and a hint of liquorice. On the mouth it has a round feel character and a dense texture with  firm tannins, and with elements of chocolate and ripe cherry fruit. Finish is long with a good aftertaste of dark chocolate.
This wine can be consumed now, but would develop further through more bottle aging. Must be opened at least from 1 to 3 hours before consuming as it requires breathing.
Alcohol: 12.5%
Price range: Eur16.

Meridiana Celsius Cabernet Sauvignon Riserva 2006.

Produced from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes harvested from its own estate on the Meridiana Wine Estate. Barrel aged, unfiltered, wine which is dark red in colour with chocolate and blackcurrant flavours. Full-bodied and filled with blackberries, blackcurrant and plum flavours with a hint of black pepper and mint; well integrated in astringent chunky ripe tannins. Good long finish.
Longer aging in the bottle will further soften its tannins while its more subtle flavours will develop further and intensify.
Alcohol: 12.5%
Price Range: Eur21

Meridiana Bel Syrah 2008.

Unfiltered, barrel-aged, 100% Syrah, extremely dark purple with ruby red highlights in colour, full-bodied fruity wine, with aromas and flavours of peppers berries currants, prune and chocolate. Very distinctive tannins and high acidity. It's warm alcohol leaves a strong aftertaste and lasting finish. A very good example of Syrah varietal.
Alcohol: 13%
Price Range: Eur15

Delicata Gran Cavalier Merlot 2009.
     Vintage Tardive- Late Harvest-Barrel Matured.
     Winemaker: Emm. Delicata & Sons, Malta.

Produced from 100% merlot grapes, grown and harvested in selected family vineyards. Full-bodied, elegant robust red wine, matured and softened in French oak barriques, and bottled unfiltered.
Dark red in colour, with ruby colour on the edges, flavours and aromas of black cherry, blackberries, plum and chocolate with a hint of herbs. Mellow tannins which make it easy to drink especially with lighter food. Medium to full bodied with high alcohol content, round texture and low acidity with soft tannins, this wine is an excellent companion to light meats, salmon, tuna and even shellfish.
Alcohol content: 13.5%
Price Range: Eur13.50

Gran Cavalier and Hauteville 2009 Red Varietals.
    Vintage tardive-Late harvest- barrel aged.

Produced from 100% Syrah grapes, handpicked from individual pocket sized vineyards.This hot climate Syrah is matured and softened in French oak barriques for a number of months under controlled conditions. Bottled unfiltered to preserve the Syrah characteristics to the fullest.
Dark purple in colour with ruby highlights. Pronounced nose of chocolate, vanilla, toasted oak and plums. On the palate it is intense with fruit with plums, blackberry and chocolate flavours. Rounded  mouth feel followed by lingering tannis. very good finish.
Alcohol: 13.5%
Price Range: Eur13.80

    Vintage tardive- Late harvest- barrel matured.
     Winemaker: Emm. Delicata & Sons, Malta.

Full-bodied, Cabernet Sauvignon, quite rich red along the edges and nearly black in the center. Balanced ripe fruit from the late harvest and good structure. On the nose it exhibits scents of rasberry and black cherry. In the mouth the tannins are dense and lush, leading to a lingering velvety finish.
Alcohol: 13.5%
Price range: Eur9.50

Premium Red Varietals from Malta.
These wines are still relatively young, even the Meridiana Celsius 2006, and they can still devlop and evolve further. I would suggest a 5 to 10 year aging period would result in a more textured and complex set of wines.
For best results these wines should be opened well before serving and to be decanted if possible. Most are unfiltered  to preserve their full characteristics, therefore ample breathing time is recommended.

Prime Beef Rib-Eye Steaks.
Bistecca Ala Fiorentina -T Bone
FOOD PAIRINGS: Red meats- roast beef, grilled prime steaks, mature cheese, pasta, French cuisine, poultry and meaty stews- rabbit, beef, veal. Roast lamb. For the Cabernet Sauvignon: red meats;cream and butter sauces; For the Merlot: Veal, Salmon and tuna, chicken, shellfish; For the Syrah: pairs well with all foods listed here.

Stuffed pork fillet, aubergine..

Prime beef Fillet
More food selections. The pork and salmon pair well with a good, mellow Merlot as well as with a good white wine. The beef fillet is strictly for the Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon or one of the red blends.
Poached salmon in herbs-Pairs well with Merlot.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Taste of Malta:The White Wines (3).

Chardonnay Ripe Grape Cluster.

To continue our topic "A Taste of Malta", we now go to part 3 of this feature by covering several selected white wines from various winemakers in Malta.

This phenomenal fruit on the vine to make
these fantastic wines. Man's ingenuity is supreme.

Selected white wines of Malta.
All of the wine brands covered here are among the topmost brands of these winemakers and cover a range of grape varieties from Chardonnay, Vermentino, Viogner and Sauvignon Blanc. Some wines are barrel fermented, others are oak-aged, whereas others are fermented in stainless steel tanks. All have their distinctive characteristics, aromas, flavours, and finishing lenghts. White wine, due to its lack of tannins, is best drunk young, in most cases in this instance, by the time that they are three years old from the vintage date. It is advisable to always check the vintage date on the bottle's label when purchasing white wine in a wine shop or enoteca, and more so when wine is ordered in a restaurant. If the date shown on the label is beyond three years from the vintage year to the day of purchase, in my humble opinion, the wine is to be changed (prior to opening in a restaurant, of course). If buying from a wine shop always buy the latest vintage, for example, the current vintage on sale at this time, January 2011, is the 2009 vintage.
As white wine ages, its fruit flavour fades away and what one gets in return is complexity, which most people do not understand. Other wines simply become bland. Therefore, to enjoy these fine wines to the full, drink them young and fresh, within two years, or to three years maximum from vintage, at the correct temperature, 11 to 12 deg.C, on their own, or with the correct food pairing.

Enchor-Chardonnay 2009.
1. TA' MENA ENCHOR GOZO 2009 DOK - Barrel Fermented CHARDONNAY.

Produced from handpicked grapes, harvested from the Ta' Mena Estate in the Ramla Valley vineyards on the Isle of Gozo.
Barrel-fermented and matured for 6 months in new French barrels to give a full-bodied, intense and elegant wine. Rich golden yellow in colour, having aromas of tropical fruit and vanilla, with a soft toasty oak palate integrated with the wine's intense tangerine and citrus flavours. The wine finishes with bright acidity, giving it a crisp, fresh and very elegant finish.
Alcohol content:13.5%
Price range: Eur13.5
Rating: RS92.


Enchor and 1551 Chardonnay 2009 Gozo DOK.
Produced from handpicked grapes selected from vines in the Ramla Valley vineyard, yielding not more than 2kg per vine. It is fermented and matured in stainless steel tanks for 9 months under strictly temperature controlled conditions. Deep, golden yellow colour, pristinely fresh in its aroma and flavours of pineapple, ripe apples and nuanced lees treatment. The wine has a good a good medium-body with a tangy acidity to give it a good crisp finish.
Alcohol content: 12.5%
Price range: Eur8.80

Winemaker: Emm Delicata Winery-Malta.

Produced from Malta grown Chardonnay grapes, handpicked from individual pocket sized vineyards.Fermented in French Oak barriques. Typical hot climate deep yellow golden colour, with a bouquet of citrus. pineapple and tropical fruits. In the mouth a crisp citrus flavour with a good mineral structure. Elegant wine, good finish and crsip aftertaste with crisp acidity.
Alcohol content: 13%
Price range: Eur 13.50

Delicata Grand Vin de Hauteville Chardonnay 2009.

Winemaker: Emm. Delicata Winery, Malta.

Deep yellow colour, medium-bodied, full flavoured ripe Chardonnay with strong vanilla overtones from the French oak barriques during maturation. Slightly astringent. Aromatic and spicy on the nose, Ripe fruit flavours, fresh acidity. Buttery with a hint of hazelnuts. Good tangy finish.
Alcohol content: 12.7%
Price Range: EUR8.50

Clear whitish yellow

Winemaker: Emm. delicata Winery.

Produced from 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes hravested and handpicked in family owned pocket sized vineyards. Left in contact with the skins for some days prior to pressing to extract the full flavour of the grape varietal. Light-bodied, crisp and refreshing white wine with notable refreshing acidity. On the palate it gives a herbal sensation. mineral and light, citrus flavour mix. Dry with a good finish.
Alcohol content: 12.5%
Price range: Eur11.


Meridiana Isis and Astarte 2009.
Unoaked Chardonnay. Very little information is available regarding vinification, fermentation, maturing and aging processes.
Greenish yellow in colour, fresh, citrus and apple notes, crisply refreshing.
Alcohol content: 12%
Price range: Eur11.25


Produced from a novel blend of Vermentino, Chardonnay and other Mediterranean varietals.
Citrus and apricot flavour, rich greenish yellow wine of intrinsic clarity.  Very good structure and complexity,. Dry with good acidity. Bouquet of citrus with hints of summer fruits. On the palate the flavours are citrusy and ripe apricot and plum. Very good, linegring finish, fresh and refreshing.
Alcohol content: 12%
Price range: Eur 10.50

Winemaker: Camilleri Wines Limited - Malta.

Fine white wine fermented in French oak barriques, which gives the wine a complex bouquet of ripe summer fruit with overtones of vanilla and spice. On the palate the flavours are fruit forward, citrus flavour, very subtle oak, with a fresh crisp finish.
Alcohol content: 13%
Price Range Eur10.

Laurenti and Pinoforte 2009.
Winemaker: Camilleri Wines Limited, Malta.

Pale yellow straw colour.  Vibrant, refreshing summer wine. Refreshing tropical with optimal freshness. Aromatic, crisp and cleansing. On the nose it has aromas of crunchy pear, spice and lemon rind. On the palate it shows grapefruit and melons undertones with lemon zest acidity which gives a lingering fresh finish.

Alcohol content: 12.5%
Price range: Eur10.

Winemaker: Camilleri Wines Limited, Malta.

Un-oaked blend of Viogner and Vermentino grapes. Aromas of orange blossom, lemon zest and summer fruit. On the palate the wine is dry, with a fruity characteristic of peach, grapefruit and pineapple. The wine is complimented by gentle and fresh acidity.
Alcohol content: 12%
Price range: Eur10

Cheese selections for wine- Red; White and Sweet.
 For oaked white wine:   Cheese: Brie, Camembert, Gouda, Jack, Parmessan; Chicken baked, fried roast or in creamsauce; Crab, prawns and lobster especially in cream sauce;  Sauted fish or fish cooked in salt crust; oysters; pasta with cream sauce, or ricotta filled ravioli, cannelloni, etc. White fish. Seafood grilled or sauted; swordfish.
Avoid: Red meat; raw meat; oriental food; suhi and shasimi; salty food; sweet dishes.

Seafood for un-oaked white wine.

For un-oaked white wine: Fish poached, grilled or steamed when citrus or lemon is being used; stuffed bell pepper; grilled or roast pork; veal; poultry; rabbit; risotto; salads; salmon; pizza; Seafood and shellfish in broth with lemon juice; sushi and shasimi.
Avoid: red meat.

Camilleri Wines-Dolce Vita Dessert Wine 2009 DOK

Winemaker: Camilleri Wines Limited.

Blended from late harvested Viogner,Vermentino and Sauvignon Blanc grapes that were harvested three weeks later than the normal vendemia. The grape cluster stalk is severed half-way through wilst the cluster is still hanging from the vine, and left to dry out on the vine, but at the same time recieving nutrients from the vine and soil. The dried out cluster is then harvested and handpicked carefully. After some more drying out inside the winery, the grapes are crushed and the nectar is fermented under natural conditions, resulting in an excellent dessert wine with a high level of natural sweetness in the wine accompanied by sweet ripe apple and honey notes.
Alcohol content: 10%
Price range: Eur13.50

Can't be any sweeter- yummy yum.

Ricotta cannoli.
Food pairing: Sweet desserts; flans, tarts, pies, gateaux, cassatella siciliana. Cheese;tropical fruit; espressos.

Monday, January 17, 2011

A Taste of Malta:The Blends - Gozo (2).

For the second part of our feature about the "Malta Blends", we are this time reviewing some excellent blends produced in Malta's sister island - The Island of Calypso formally known as GOZO.

Viniculture in Gozo is not a new thing, in fact excavations which were carried out in 2005, by the Superintendence of Cultural Heritage at Mgarr Ix-Xini, on this small island, situated right in the center of the Mediterranean, confirmed results of past studies that viniculture, grape pressing and wine production, had an important role in the Maltese economy since the classic period.

Punic wine pan and basin hacked in rock - 500BC Gozo.
Some 15 wine and olive oil presses have been discovered and successfully excavated, and which date back to the 5th century, that is 500BC. These presses can be clearly seen embedded in the Gozitan valley for what they are. The presses were dug into the rock and form a shallow pan on top of which was mounted the pressing mechanism, ancient as it was, to press the grapes, after which the juice would flow through a channel to a lower deep basin. After pressing the wine juice used to be collected and stored in amphora for it to be shipped by galley to Sicily.

Similar presses have also been discovered in Malta in the Mgarr Valley and at Mnajdra in an area known as the Misqa tanks.

Modern Stainless Steel Tanks -Ta' Mena Estate, Gozo.
Wine making in Malta and in Gozo have come a long, long way since then, and today Gozo boasts a state of the art winemaking estate, which is producing some excellent wines, strictly from grapes grown and harvested on their estate.

For the purpose of this feature, I am reviewing here the top brands from this winemaker, which qualify admirable to be listed in our review of the "Malta Blends". Quality and originality of the blends have been taken well into account for these reviews.
The selected wines are the :

Marsamana- five grape variety- Premium Blend.
This wine is produced from a blend of five grape varieties, grown and harvested from the Ta' Mena Estate in the Marsalforn Valley, in Gozo. The grape varieties chosen for this unique blend are : MERLOT; CABERNET SAUVIGNON; CABERNET FRANC; SYRAH AND SERKUZAN; hand picked and selected carefully from low yielding vines.
After pressing, maceration and fermentation, the wine is blended and matured for 10 months in new French oak barrels. Bottling takes place with very little filtering or fining so that the full flavours and aromas of the blend are preserved.
The wine has a dark red ruby colour,and  is a full-bodied red, with a bouquet of ripe cherries, prune and blackberries. On the palate it is well structured and spicy with flavours of cinamon and vanilla, chocolate and ripe fruit. Tannins are strong and firm with excellent acidity. The finish is long, with sweet tannins reminiscent of fine Marsala and Vermouth.

An excellent wine blend which had to be taste-tested against the benchmark wine to verify the rating given.
Alcohol content: 13% by volume.
Price range: Eur 13.50
Serving temperature: 18 deg.C


The Premium Blends from the Ta' Mena Estate-Gozo.

Like the MARSAMENA, the GABILLOTT  is  blended from the same five grape varieties but with Merlot being the predominant variety. Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Syrah and Serkuzan are blended in, in lesser quantities.
The wine blend is aged for 9 months in stainless steel tanks after maceration and fermentation is completed, resulting in a full-bodied, unoaked, ruby red wine that pairs well with lighter meats such as veal, rabbit and pasta.
Due to its Merlot content this wine has  a floral bouquet with tinges of caramel, clove and spice. On the palate it has hints of black pepper, plums, and black currants with supple tannins which are offset by the inclusion of the Cabernet Sauvignon and the Cabernet Franc to give a well balanced red wine. The finish is medium lenght but enjoyable..

Alcohol content: 13% by volume.
Price range: Eur9.50



This wine is produced from a blend of 50% Syrah and 50% Serkuzan, grown and harvested in the Ta' Mena - Marsalforn Valley estate, handpicked from grapes from vines yielding a controlled yield of about 2kg. per vine. The wine is fermented and matured for 12 months in stainless steel tanks resulting in a mediuml-bodied, deep red wine with firm tannins.
Aromas and flavours are distinctly of blackcurrant with overtones of black pepper and spice. The fruit sensations in the mouth of the blend are complemented by warm alcohol and firm but sweet tannins and good acidity. Good finish and very enjoyable.

Alcohol content: 13% by volume.
Price range: Eur8.80.
Serving temperature: 18Deg.C


The Ta' Mena 1551 Brand.

Composed from an estimated 65% Merlot and 35% Cabernet Franc grape varieties, this wine blend is fermented and matured in stainless steel tanks for 12 months.
Dark red in colour with a bouquet of blackberry, plums and herbs. In the mouth it is soft and mellow due to the Merlot content; black cherries with mineral notes and good acidity come from the Cabernet Franc. Finish is mellow and lingering.

Alcohol content: 13% by volume.
Price range: Eur8.80
Serving temperature: 18 deg.C.


The 1551 branded red wines reviewed here are considered to be in the 85 to 89 points range which is defined as: Very Good- Quality at a good price.

Food Pairings: All of the above four wines pair well with red meats; roast beef; grilled prime steaks; rabbit; veal and turkey. Pasta with red and meat sauces or fillings; mature cheese; Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

The Ta' Mena Chardonnay's shall be reviewed in the forthcoming review under the title of:: "A TASTE OF MALTA: THE WHITE WINES".

Gabillott, Marsamena and Enchor  - Exceptionally good wines from the Ta' Mena Wine Estate - Isle of Gozo. Ratings: RS90; RS92; RS92.