Malta Food and Wine

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Cooler and wetter winter expected to yield better vendemmia
"A much cooler winter and 50% more rain than the average 500mm of the previous winter are expected to be the main factors that should yield an exciting and positive wine harvest this year.” Such is the opinion of Louie Camilleri, General Manager of Camilleri Wines during a visit to one of the winery’s main vine growers, in the vineyards limits of Siggiewi.

“Although as a result of the substantial amount of rain, Syrah and Viognier will most probably produce less grapes, we are still of the opinion that from the forthcoming 2009 Vendemmia, the whites wines are going to perform very well this year. In particular, the Sauvignon Blanc should be one of the best ones to date. When it comes to red wines, we are reserving a special anticipation for the Cabernet Franc and Merlot varieties which should result in very good quality reds for 2009,” said Louie.

Camilleri Wines currently manages 70 hectares of vineyards around Malta and Gozo and is constantly on call assisting the 96 vine growers on contract with the winery.
Louie also explained how “a much colder winter meant that the bud burst around 15 days later than normal and that the new vine shoots are very strong and healthy. This condition is due to the good amount of rain that drained out the yearly accumulation of sea salt from the soil whilst the mild wind conditions saved the young tender vine leaves and shoots.”

Referring to Gozo where the average mean temperature is always one or two degrees lower than Malta, Louie explained that “due to the high levels of rainfall, since all our Gozo vineyards are on clayish soils, the tillage of the soil that we usually carry out in early March could not be done since the soils were still too wet to be cultivated. In fact, soil cultivation was carried out in the first week of April. Apart from this, practically the conditions observed in the Gozitan vineyards were similar to the ones observed in Malta.”

Asked about this week’s sudden rise in temperature, Louie outlined that although sudden, this week’s increase of around 5º is not an alarming factor but a normal one at this time of the year. “Thanks to the high amount of rainfall, our water reservoirs are full to the brim and this year, we are expecting to start vine irrigation a month later. Insect population is also lower due to the cooler temperatures and the adequate amounts of rain.”

“We only hope that we won’t experience any abrupt heat waves this summer as any temperatures above 35º will cause the vines to block all their growing systems and only concentrate on surviving. In that case though, we always recommend that the best way to counter a heat wave is to immediately provide enough irrigation to keep the vines from wilting,” concluded Louie.