The Unique Wines of Mar Casar in Malta: Qvevri Vinification Method

The journey of Mar Casar wines started when Mark Cassar, its owner, realized how beneficial the sea is to his mental health. Because he had suffered from depression for a long time, he was advised to spend time walking by the sea to mitigate the effects of the strong medical disorder. After heeding the advice, he has seen the positive effects on his health. Just the sound of the waves and visual stimulation of the ocean encourages relaxation and reduces stress. More importantly, studies show that higher concentrations of negative ions are prevalent in nature most especially to coastal environments which is associated with overall well-being and can have mood-boosting effects. After realizing the numerous benefits of these walks including stopping all medications, Mark decided to buy fields by the sea. This marked the beginning of his journey to viticulture, carrying out his passion in making organic wines with no chemical additives.

The location of the 3-hectare vineyards of Mar Casar is the highest in Malta at 235 meters above sea level with a very close proximity to the Mediterranean Sea at 2 kilometers. They are planted with Chardonnay, Merlot and Petit Verdot. The terraced vineyards have a southern orientation with the prevailing winds from the north and northeast, surrounded by a wide variety of indigenous medicinal plants and shrubs. The Chardonnay vines are planted in clay-based soil while the Merlot and Petit Verdot are cultivated in limestone soil. The vineyards are grown with a holistic approach to viticulture, embracing a philosophy that views the vineyard as a self-sustaining ecosystem. It integrates sustainable practices, environmental awareness and a full focus on the entire healthy development of the grapes. They are maintained with no synthetic chemicals, pesticides and herbicides. Irrigation is used, with harvested rain water.

Unique to Malta, Mar Casar has adopted the vinification method in qvevri which is used in the country of Georgia. Qvevri is a large clay vessel used for fermenting and aging wine that originated in Georgia. This ancient winemaking technique that is still widely practiced in Georgia dates back 8,000 years ago. The qvevris which are buried underground are the containers used to ferment the grapes, including their skins and stems. This method is known for its unique characteristics, imparting a distinct taste and texture to the wine. This vinification method is a part of Georgia's cultural heritage and is recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.

The conical terracotta qvevris of Mar Casar are imported from Georgia, which are handmade by George Kopadze from Shroa, Imereti. The best Caucasian clay is used, containing large amounts of gold. silver, magnesium and other minerals. They are then fired in a wood-fueled kiln to harden the clay then lined with beeswax to give a protective layer for the wine. The qvevris are then buried until the neck to maintain stable temperature for the wine during the fermentation and aging. Marcasar's qvevris were imported in 2015 and presently under 4th vintage.

In the cellar, the qvevris are buried in particular sand with high magnetic conductivity, brought in from Sicily. The grapes go through a long skin contact and with the fermentation involving indigenous yeasts in the temperature-controlled qvevris. Because of the conical shape of the qvevris, there is a constant circulation of the wine inside. There is no filtration and no fining additives used while the addition of sulfides is kept at a low level.

The Wines

Chardonnay Amber Natural Wine 2017
An amber wine that went through long skin and seed maceration, 22 months of maturation in qvevri and bottled in 2019. Because of the long skin contact of the Chardonnay, it attained a brilliant amber color with a complex nose with obscured characteristics of the variety, wherein deep earthy aromas dominate, salted olives, saline, dried apricots and dried spices while on the mouth it becomes quite interesting as it opens to a thin layer of tannins, savory notes and freshness that accompanies every sip. 

Merlot - Petit Verdot Natural Wine 2017
A blend of Merlot and Petit Verdot that went through long skin and seed maceration, 22 months of maturation in qvevri and bottled in 2019. A vibrant ruby red - purplish color in the glass gives out a nose with earthiness, saltiness and dark fruits while with the sip, it opens to mature fruits with supple tannins, creamy, and well-balanced.

Sacrum Merlot Chocolate Kush 2020
Then the bottle of Sacrum Merlot Chocolate Kush 2020 comes out. It is a very particular one because it is a CBD natural wine which is allowed in Malta. The fermentation of the grapes is combined with the hemp buds. This way, the cannabidiol from the hemp are extracted efficiently as they gain the polyphenols and antioxidants from the grapes during the process. This combination aims to bring together the potential health and relaxation benefits associated with CBD and the enjoyment of wine. CBD itself doesn't have a strong flavor but it can, if it does at all, impart subtle earthy or herbal notes to the wine. Contents: 14.5% Alcohol, 2.2 ng/ml THC, 43.8 ng/ml CBD, and 12 ng/ml CBDA. In the glass? It has a dense ruby red color, decidedly Merlot in the nose a rustic and savory tone with blueberries, dark stone fruits and chocolate while with the sip, it envelopes the mouth, dark berries and sapidity are prominent, full-bodied, creamy and has velvety tannins playing.

Mar Casar

Address: Triq San Lawrenz ta' L-Gholja, Siġġiewi, Malta
Tel: +356 9945 1332