So you know Prosecco, Italy’s most exported sparkling wine with worldwide sales exceeding 500 million bottles a year. But, have you heard of the vogue happening here, right now? Say hello to our very own and ultra-rare Maltese Frizzante!
The general term ‘frizzante’ is used in the world of wine to describe a gently sparkling style (with less than 3 bars of pressure in bottle at 20°C). Spumante, on the other hand, is another common Italian loanword for fully sparkling bottles (with 3 and often 5 to 6 bars of pressure).
Frizzante is called vino con aguja in Spain, perlwein in Germany, sternliwein in Switzerland and perlant in France.
As far as Maltese wine is concerned, frizzante is practically synonymous with just one wine, namely Ġellewża Frizzante by Delicata.
It’s the Delicata winery that first introduced the frizzante style decades ago, pioneering with a semi-sparkling wine made from the red Ġellewża grape but also from the other indigenous green-skinned Girgentina variety.
Nowadays, the term ‘frizzante’ sits on the tongue of many fizz lovers as a brand name and it is becoming trendier than ever.
It’s easy to see why. Both the dry Girgentina, with appley and peachy goodness, and the slightly sweetish Ġellewża Frizzante, liked for its inimitable strawberry flavour, are fun and flirty drinks. They have a pretty floral nose, a fruit-packed palate and that particular spritzy freshness we all love on a hot summer’s day.
Frizzante from Malta, in my book the antithesis to boring bubbly, probably won’t get a stronghold on the fizz category. Like all good things, it’s fleeting: made only in boutique-like quantities.
Delicata’s Ġellewża and Girgentina Frizzante are crafted by a fourth generation family winemaker using ultra-local and extremely rare grapes from the country’s few old bush vines that are largely dry-farmed and carefully hand-picked.
Although frivolous and fun in the glass, both wines tell a seriously good story of how challenging and exciting local winemaking really is.
They are little pearls in an ocean of foreign sparkling wines. I would snap up a case; get it while you can!
Bronze for Medina Vermentino Zibibbo
Delicata’s 2018 Medina Vermentino Zibibbo DOK Malta has landed a bronze medal at the Decanter World Wine Awards, judged by the world’s top wine experts.
This dry white wine by Delicata was characterised as having “a fresh, aromatic nose of white flesh fruit and white flowers with good fruit intensity on the palate and persistent length”.
Ten years ago, we had a hard time even spelling Vermentino. Yet today it’s one of the most promising white wine grapes in Malta and it blends well with that other Mediterranean grape, Zibibbo (aka Moscato).
The appreciation and growing thirst for well-made Vermentino, locally as well as internationally, goes to show how much things can change in a decade.
In the story of wine the final chapter is always waiting to be written. Meanwhile, let Delicata’s refreshing Medina Vermentino Zibibbo rule your shopping list this summer.
Delicata is the only Maltese winery to win at the 2019 DWWA in London.