Anticipation for the market release of Delicata’s Gran Cavalier Sauvignon Blanc D.O.K. Malta of the latest 2016 vintage is heightening.
This quality Maltese wine has found a steady following locally by lovers of aromatic white wines and become sought-after by our restaurateurs. Especially discerning foreign scouting organisers of hospitality events seem to want to secure their cache of this unique wine well ahead of their lunches and dinners in Malta.
So it is a common occurrence that this vintage wine, which is made only in tiny quantities, gets snapped up quickly before its next vintage is ready for distribution.
The good news for all Delicata Sauvignon Blanc fans, though, is that the latest 2016 vintage is scheduled for imminent release from the winery. And, judging by a recent tank sample: it tastes just lovely.
What seems to set such quality Maltese Sauvignon Blanc apart is the interplay between cooling coastal breezes, specific sites carefully matched to the precise vine type with consideration for its rootstock and fruiting clone and modern viticultural techniques to further help mitigate the effects of Malta’s warm climate.
In fine vintage years, this combination helps to preserve the variety’s natural freshness and typical flavours. Controlling sun exposure by skilful vine canopy management also safeguards the grape’s delicate aromatics.
In fact, the 2016 example entices with mouth-watering citrus and elderflower scents on top of layers of ripe lemons and limes. It is light and vibrant on the palate, showing well-balanced and structured.
Delicata’s two Malta-grown Sauvignon Blanc varietals, the Gran Cavalier but also the Medina label (of which the 2016 vintage has already gone on sale) are both D.O.K. Malta wines fermented in inox tanks.
The Gran Cavalier, however, is made exclusively from hand-picked bunches and sorted berries from specific clos or walled vineyard parcels that have undergone macération pelliculaire.
This is a winemaking technique whereby the free-run juice of crushed berries is carefully left in contact with the grape skins for a minimum period of time prior to fermentation. This process gives the wine more weight, depth and aging potential, and preserves the aromatic goodness fine Sauvignon Blanc is known and loved for.
Despite the fact that the 2016 national grape crop was small, Delicata has managed to secure a fair amount of Sauvignon Blanc grapes thanks to the winery’s previous viticultural efforts.
Instigated by changing consumer preferences, a number of red-skinned vines were changed over to the Sauvignon Blanc fruiting variety in a 2011 re-grafting project and 4000 new vines got planted on seven tumoli of land in Żebbuġ in 2013 which started to produce quality fruit last summer.
The Gran Cavalier range of wines, first launched in 2000, consists of two white and two red wines made exclusively from hand-picked Malta-grown noble grape varieties. Between them, the quartet has won 22 awards at wine competitions held in France, Italy and the UK.
The 2016 Chardonnay was barrel fermented in its purposely build cool chai. The 2015 Syrah got chosen by Vinum magazine as wine of the month “having the wow-factor” whereas the 2014 Merlot shone at a gala dinner at one of Milan’s best 2-star Michelin restaurants in March.
This article by Georges Meekers appeared first in the Times of Malta, 21 April 2017.