Once upon a time, people drunk just ‘wine’ but it wasn’t long before they took in masses to Chardonnay and generic Chablis (unless they wanted Bordeaux or lighter red Burgundy).
Soon enough white wine simply became known by the C-word.Its following spread fast like a wildfire, from aristocratic, double-barrelled Corton-Charlemagne to hip California on the West Coast and China in the Far East, to the Canterbury Plains around Christchurch down south back up to Cornwall and even farther north.
It became a cult with solid foundations like those a big church is built on. And so, for quite a while, many wine drinkers all over the civilised world found comfort gathered around C-adorned labels.
However, once bored by a vinous alphabet abbreviated to the trinity of ABC, steno for ‘Always Booze Chardonnay’, many of the C-faithfuls started to stray and experiment with other wines made from more gratifying grape varieties.
But strong is the spell of darling Chardonnay; so strong is its pull that it compels many of us to rekindle every now and then. So I do, too, but rare are the occasions on which I really rejoice at its taste, for few are the terroirs that deliver greatness.
As far as Chardonnay from the Maltese Islands goes, its story is no different to that of the white wines from any country in the world where the grape has taken root. There are many good local examples being produced which offer true value for money. But dare I confess that so far just two bottles have well and truly amazed me without any reservation?
A stunning revelation is the latest vintage of Victoria Heights Chardonnay coming from pocket-sized vineyards from Malta’s smaller sister island Gozo made by Delicata, the winery in which I have an interest.
Only twice have I been amazed by Maltese Chardonnay’s grace. No, although it is of good quality, that other great bottle is not Malta’s Chardonnay often hailed as the only wholesome one. If we were only all blind when tasting flights of wine: we would see so much clearer than when we are led to believe.
The other occasion when I honestly realised the true potential of Maltese Chardonnay was when I tasted my winemaking neighbour’s 1999 vintage. Curious? Well, let me tell you, it was once upon a wine.
Victoria Heights Chardonnay of Gozo – 2012 vintage
Tasting Note (18.11.2012 G.M.) Georges’ Score: B-2 Ġeez
“Long overshadowed by the better examples of the New World and Burgundy, this Chardonnay from Gozo makes you sit up and indulge. A bright and inviting nose is fruity and slightly minerally with faint hints of Golden Delicious dusted with cashews and a pleasantness of oak. This well balanced fuller flavoured dry white wine has a creamy palate full of precise citrusy notes with a sappy finish. If you like Meursault, then this one comes recommended without trepidation!”