If Maltese and Gozitan wines were athletes they would be heroes.

Imagine the victorious welcome they would get if they were medallists returning home after having stood next to some of the greatest players from the world’s biggest sporting countries on the highest podium of a grand champions cup, be that one of football, snooker, volleyball, tennis or any other sport.

In a way, that is the kind of accomplishment achieved by a locally grown wine crafted by Malta’s Delicata winery, namely their Victoria Heights Chardonnay, DOK Gozo, superior.

Recently, the 2017 vintage of this Gozitan mono-varietal won a silver medal at the 25th edition of the prestigious Chardonnay du Monde wine competition governed by the Forum Oenologie. It was the only entry by Emmanuel Delicata Winemaker and the only Maltese wine to win this year.

Delicata has been very successful before at this wine judging event. The winery has amassed a total of 15 medals to date for their Chardonnay wines in the Victoria Heights (four), Grand Vin de Hauteville (six) and Gran Cavalier (five) ranges.

To industry outsiders, the weight of these winemaking laurels is understandably more difficult to grasp than achievements in the realm of sports.

The Chardonnay du Monde contest is organised at the Château des Ravatys, the wine estate of the Pasteur Institute at Saint Lager in the Burgundy wine region of France, which is actually the heartland of the Chardonnay grape variety.

The long-standing wine competition bills itself as the challenge between the world’s best Chardonnays. Highly regarded, the contest is to Chardonnay what the Wimbledon Championships is to tennis, Circuit de Monaco to Formula one or FIFA World Cup to football.

The contest is to Chardonnay what the Wimbledon Championships is to tennis, Circuit de Monaco to Formula one or FIFA World Cup to football

Chardonnays from the world over compete here on a level playing field for the recognition of expert judges who taste the wines blind, which means they are kept unaware of the wines’ identities.

This year’s silver-medal-winning Gozitan Chardonnay by Delicata vied for the wine judges’ appreciation amid 679 wine samples from 39 countries. After three days of judging in March, the expert panels awarded 226 wines.

The contest covers all wine styles, including champagnes and other sparkling wines made from the Chardonnay grape variety, from lighter, dry types from cool European regions to weightier, oaked examples from chief wine-producing countries like Australia and California.

Entries included some of France’s top Chardonnay appellations such as grands and premiers crus from Rully (in the Côte Chalonnaise area), Chablis (located mid-way between Beaune and Paris), Meursault (in the Côte de Beaune sub-region of Burgundy) and Pouilly-Fuissé (from the Mâconnais district).

The 2017 unoaked Victoria Heights Chardonnay, grown in calcareous soils and made from hand-picked grapes from pocket-sized vineyards in Gozo, is a delicate, gallant bottle and a must-try if you like the tropical fruit flavours the grape can offer.

The wine is vegan-friendly and sold in a returnable, eco-friendly glass bottle. Its silver medal award commemorates a jubilant moment that helps us lift our eyes a little higher and see what we as a nation nowadays can achieve in spite of size.

Like keen athletes passionate about their discipline, Maltese winemakers rise to the occasion and accomplish feats of triumphant beauty, the kind you can proudly toast to and with.

All the results are available on www.chardonnay-du-monde.com.

Georges Meekers is Delicata’s head of sales and an award-winning wine writer.