Summer in Malta is long and hot, and having spent most of the month on the little island in the Mediterranean, drinking red wine was not really an option except on rare occasions late in the evening when the temperature drops below 30 degrees and the cool summer breeze is welcomed by people who are trying to rest before they face another hot day.
Close to the sea, it is normal to try and eat fish as much as possible and although I am not fixated with having to always match a white wine with fish, the focus for the month of August has mainly been white wines such as Chablis, Sancerre, Falaghina and Zibibbo among others though here I share with you three whites and two reds.
Hugel Riesling 2008 (Alsace, France): Riesling is a grape you either love or hate. It is one of my favourite grapes for white wine because aside from its intense acidity and fragrance it is very refreshing and easy to enjoy. Many associate Riesling with sweet wines, which is clearly the case, but in the hands of good wine producers, a dry Riesling is exceptional and is one of those white wines which defies logic and can age extremely well. In this case, the Hugel Riesling from the pretty village of Riquewihr in Alscase had all the freshness of a young wine despite its six years. We paired it with a seafood platter made up of a mix of raw and cooked fish dishes.
Meridiana Baltis – Moscato 2012 (Malta): If there is one winery in Malta which you need to remember, this is Meridiana. The winery produces around 140,000 bottles of which there is a relatively new addition, a Passito with the Moscato of Malta grape variety, This wine is made with raisined Moscato grapes. This was the first time I tasted this wine and it was excellent. It had a golden yellow colour and had a crisp finish for a sweet wine. This is clearly one to keep in the cellar.
Lunae, Etichetta Nera 2012 (Liguria, Italy): I find the Vermentino to be a perfect grape for matching with seafood and fish. Grown mainly in Sardegna, Tuscany and Liguria, Vermentino is an easy drinking grape. In the hands of a good producer, however, it can develop complex notes. The black label wine from Lunae is an excellent wine with very pleasant aromas and freshness.
Chateau Grand Mayne 2006 (St Emillion, Bordeaux, France): The 2006 blend of Chateau Grand Mayne is made up of 75% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Although still relatively young, this wine was already drinking very well. Decanted for over two hours, it was complex on the nose but well balanced for its age. One to try.
Cusumano Noa 2002 (Sicily, Italy): The Noa is a blend of Nero d’Avola, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Served blind, this wine can be surprising for the right and wrong reasons. It is an incredibly good wine which is now perfectly balanced. What it has lost in power, it has gained in finesse. The only negative point is that it is incredibly difficult to guess that this is a Sicilian wine and while the Nero d’Avola is a distinct Sicilian grape, in this case, if it is served blind, many wine experts could easily confuse it for a Bordeaux blend. Nevertheless, this is an exceptional wine.
Links to the wineries of the above wines