2007 has marked a hallmark in the production of Maltese wines. In line with EU regulations two new categories of wine have been produced for the first time. The highest category is that of Quality Wines produced in specified regions (Q.W.P.S.R.) which carry the designation of “Denominazzjoni ta’ Oriġini Kontrollata” (D.O.K.). The second category falls under that of Table wines with a Geographic Indication which have the designation of “Indikazzjoni Ġeografika
Tipika”. As the category names imply in both cases the emphasis is on the origin of the grapes from which the wine is made together with minimum quality parameters being adhered to. The latter are known as production protocols and to-date three have been recognized by the Department of Agriculture after being reviewed by the Wine Regulation Board, which is the official consultation body of the Ministry with regards to policies on wines. Two of the approved protocols belong to the D.O.K. denomination covering “MALTA” and “GOZO” D.O.K. wines and the third belongs to the I.Ġ.T. category covering “Maltese Islands” I.Ġ.T. wines.
These production protocols, which have been presented by a consortium made up of wineries, producer organisations and farmer associations specify the minimum quality parameters of the wine grapes being utilized, those of the wine itself and the processes allowed and last but not least labelling. The latter is of utmost importance since under these two quality schemes it is not up to the winemaker to declare the category of the wine but it will be the Ministry for Rural Affairs and the Environment which shall be awarding the category after rigorous controls and final approval of all labeling content. The controls and certification are being carried out by the Viticulture and Oenology Unit through its officials who have taken samples from vineyards which have been registered under these schemes and from participating wineries. The ultimate goal is to assure the level of quality specified by the production protocols and the true origin of the grapes used through a traceability exercise.
The MRAE has created the necessary legal framework for the production of these wines through various legal notices which establish and regulates the process of certification and the production protocols in line with EU regulations. The Unit is currently processing various applications received under both quality schemes from the participating wineries. Samples of wines submitted for certification under the D.O.K. scheme were collected from the participating wineries and sent for further quality checks, which are also required by EU legislation, including an organoleptic analysis (organoleptic testing involves inspection through visual examination, tasting and smelling of the wines by a professionally trained and experienced judging committee to exclude wines which have defects and to define a wine’s profile).
The requirement for laboratory testing and organoleptic analysis will be fulfilled through an agreement which has been signed between the MRAE and the Enoteca di Siena. The Enoteca has a history of excellence in its field and the MRAE has felt that through its service the certification process for Maltese quality wines will offer greater guarantees for the consumer.
Minister George Pullicino
Minister for Rural Affairs and the Environment