Malta & Gozo
We have visited the fascinating Islands of Malta and Gozo plenty of times on our New Year wine tours and Wine Cruises, however 2012 is the first dedicated wine tour for our Early Spring escape to the sun!
Malta is 98km south of Sicily and 288km north of Africa and the island is the largest of the Maltese archipelago, with Gozo being the next largest, the weather is superbly sunny for a winter break and there are expansive beaches.
If you know nothing about the wines, or are slightly bemused to hear that these wines are worthy of interest – you will be pleasantly surprised. There are a handful of dedicated wine producers striving to make world quality wines from vineyards on Malta and Gozo as opposed to from grapes shipped in from Italy as was historically done. The classic grape varieties of Chardonnay, Cabernet, Merlot and Viognier are grown as well as two indigenous varieties named Gellewza (red) and Ghirgentina (white).
The unspoilt and more rural island of Gozo has very different countryside to that of its larger sister island of Malta, with the Azure Window, one of the loveliest natural features of the island.
The history of the Maltese Islands is varied and interesting. From the Neolithic period, of which you can still visit the remains of the megalithic temples (the Hypogeum on Malta is UNESCO World Heritage listed), through the Phoenicians, the Carthaginians, the Romans and the Byzantines, all of whom left their traces on the Islands. The Knights of St John oversaw one of the Islands most powerful eras, followed briefly by the French but Malta was under British Rule until 1964 and remnants of these are omnipresent in the islands culture today. The narrow and meadering streets reveal Renaissance cathedrals and Baroque palaces, a great place to explore on foot.