As the last of the ‘big’ red Cabernet grapes roll in to the Delicata winery (Sauvignon and Franc), this year’s pressing comes to a close. Once again, the winery is smashing through the one-million-kilo barrier of local grapes pressed.

The last two grapes to be harvested are Malta’s very own unique, indigenous varieties, Girgentina and Ġellewża.

As is the case every year, these traditional bush-trained varieties are the last to be hand-picked by the army of Delicata growers, all of whom are anxious to pick early rather than late, due to the sporadic but sometimes heavy rainfall that can (and often does) occur during September. But as far as the winemaker is concerned, leaving the grapes on the vine just that little bit longer yields better results quality-wise.

This year the wait paid off and by mid-September there was still no rain, ergo great grapes.

The principal advantage is the sanitary state of the grapes. It is the winemaker’s yearly objective to receive disease- and mildew-free grapes that have achieved optimum ripeness by these late varieties every year, but this is not always possible.

The indigenous grape varieties of Malta have been championed by Delicata for years. The white Girgentina is a large, loose bunched variety, with amber-coloured, thick-skinned berries that are both fragrant and fruity. The resulting wines are crisp, slightly ‘mineral’ and full-flavoured, producing good quality dry, white wines which can be used exclusively on their own, like in the semi-sparkling brut IGT Girgentina Frizzante, or blended with Chardonnay as in the DOK Malta Medina Chardonnay Girgentina, or with Vermentino and Viognier to produce the company’s ever-popular Pjazza Regina IGT Maltese Islands white.

The large berried, pale red Ġellewża variety is packed with ripe and aromatic fruit flavours and is nearly all fermented as a rosé wine.

This then goes into the IGT wine Pjazza Regina Rosé (often blended with either Grenache or Syrah) and exclusively into the IGT Maltese Falcon Rosé.

However, it is most popularly used in Delicata’s award-winning IGT ‘lifestyle’ rosé Ġellewża Frizzante, which is also bottled for export under the Swedish premium own label brand, Bodvar of Sweden.

Finally, for all lovers of wine trivia, just to put one million kilos of grapes into perspective, if you lined up all of the vines needed to produce that amount of grapes they would stretch from Valletta to Athens (some 850 kilometres) or go around the shoreline of Malta (137 kilometres) just over six times. They would also produce enough wine to fill an average family bath tub 8,250 times!