Founded in 1919 by Anthony Cassar, Marsovin is one of the oldest wine producers in Malta. With an annual production of almost two million bottles, it is today the main producer and exporter of wine in Malta, just ahead of the other major producer on the island, Delicata.
Marsovin owns a little more than 20 hectares of vineyards which are spread over 5 vineyards on the island of Malta and Gozo, in the localities of Marsaxlokk, Wardija, Ghajn, Rihana and Ramla il-Hamra. Each vineyard has been selected to plant the most suitable grape varieties for the local soil and microclimate. The grapes from these 5 vineyards are used for the production of plot wines and blended in the best cuvées of the domain. Marsovin also buys grapes from about 300 Maltese winegrowers, representing about 200 hectares of vineyards. These grapes are destined for the production of entry-level and mid-range wines, marketed under other labels.
An exceptional cellar
The arrival at the cellar of Marsovin does not give any indication of the treasure that lies within its walls. The cellar is indeed located in the locality of Paola, the port area of the island of Malta. Inside the Marsovin cellar, originally built by the Order of the Knights of St. John in the 17th century, are stored over 100,000 bottles and 220 oak barrels. It is also where Cassar de Malta is produced, the only sparkling wine produced according to the traditional method in Malta (and surely one of the only ones in the whole Mediterranean!). A visit to the cellar is a must for any wine lover visiting the island of Malta. You can finish the visit by tasting some of the best vintages of the house.
Marsovin produces a wide range of products, from table wines to plot wines and the only sparkling wine made by the traditional (or Champagne) method in Malta! In the 70’s, Marsovin was a pioneer in the production of single varietal wines on the island. In the 90s, he acquired one of his most prestigious vineyards, Marnisi, in Marsaxlokk, in the south of the island. From this vineyard, one of the largest in Malta (8.5 hectares), were born two of the wines that made the reputation of the estate and quickly became very successful in the export market: the Antonin and Marnisi vintages. Philip Tonna, the oenologist of Marsovin, studied oenology in Bordeaux. He lived there for a few years and worked at Chateau Belgrave before returning to Malta and working for Marsovin.
I will obviously not give you a complete review of the 43 wines produced by the house, but I had the chance to taste several vintages. Generally, I preferred the reds to the whites. Here is my review:
- Cassar of Malta: a white of white in Malta? Well yes, it is possible. The chardonnay is harvested early enough to keep the grapes with enough acidity. The wine is aged on lees for a period varying between 12 and 24 months. An extra brut sparkling wine, only 6,000 bottles are produced each year. Nice citrus nose, nice freshness. Rather well made. The bubble falls a bit quickly though.
- Caravaggio chenin blanc: I did not expect to drink chenin blanc in Malta! Blind, it didn’t have the characteristics… Wine without defect, but which will not make you vibrate either…
Antonin: this wine comes from a vineyard on the island of Gozo, whose vines have a view of the beach 😉 100% Chardonnay, aged 3 months in new oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. Lacks a bit of acidity, which makes it a bit soft.
- Marnisi: this Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot is an example of a wine with great ageing potential that the island can produce. The vines are about 20 years old. Nice nose of red fruits, nice tannic structure, made for ageing.
- Primus: this blend of Syrah and Gellewza (the majority) is produced according to traditional processes to produce amarone. The grapes are dried before fermentation in new barrels. Gellewza is a red grape variety indigenous to the island of Malta, often used in blends. This Primus is a very beautiful wine, powerful, full-bodied, which would not have to be ashamed of the comparison with its Italian cousins… Amazing!
- Guze Passito: this dessert wine is produced with Syrah grapes completely dried before fermentation. Not cheap, but very well made. It is the perfect accompaniment to a dark chocolate dessert..
The visit of the cellar, followed by a tasting, is organized on request.