TIPS ON WINE SELECTION FOR YACHT GUESTS
Last updated: 13/11/2018
Ordering wine for superyacht owners and their guests can be a challenging task for chefs and wine stewards. It requires an understanding of the different types of wines available on the market, the trending wines in a particular superyacht hub, along with the specifics needs of each owner and their guests – which let’s face – is not easy!
Luckily, wine suppliers have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to understanding the wine industry. By visiting vineyards – old and new, building relationships with winegrowers and makers, learning from those they source from, and even hosting wine tasting events as a tribute to their product range they are a valuable source to offer guidance to chefs and stews.
With the help of leading wine suppliers No.12 Wines, 1862 Wines & Spirits, VSF France and Berba Wines we discuss the factors a wine supplier considers when sourcing wine, along with tips for when chefs and stews make their next superyacht wine order.
Wine suppliers’ secrets to sourcing quality wines
Sourcing wine is the most important factor for a wine supplier as it determines how they are perceived in the market. Many will buy directly from winemakers, rather than purchasing bottles considered second hand or from an open market.
Berba Wines stated, “This allows for complete control over how the wine is treated and stored from the moment it’s bottled until the moment it’s delivered.” 1862 Wines & Spirits added, “We are always listening to the comments from professionals and winemakers.”
A particular type of wine will be undoubtedly sourced on the region it is commonly produced from – as these particular regions have been producing excellent wine varieties for decades now. 1862 Wine & Spirits continued, “In Provence, Cabernet-Sauvignon was implemented 40 years ago producing today amazing wine varieties.”
VSF France believes that “regions such as Bordeaux are best for Cabernet Merlot, Burgundy for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the Loire and New Zealand for Sauvignon Blanc, Australia and the Languedoc for Syrah, Spain for Grenache Noir.”
The wine vintage is another important element that will be considered when sourcing quality wines. A vintage will vary based on the type of wine and therefore the latest vintage may not necessarily be the most desirable one.
Berba Wines explained, “In Bordeaux, for example, we only offer wines from the 2010 vintage or older, reserving less mature wines for later release. Given the nature of our clientele, we focus on premium vintages like 2000, 2003, 2005, 2009 and 2010.”
Choosing an appropriate range of wine
For many chefs and stews, choosing an appropriate range of wine can be a difficult duty. When in doubt, unload your uncertainty upon a wine supplier as they are always available to answer any queries or offer advice on a particular style of wine.
No.12 Wines further explained, “Wine provenance is the key to purchasing good quality wines with low risk factors - especially when purchasing mature wines. Trusting your wine merchant or provisioner is paramount to receiving genuine, quality, and thus best value, possible.”
Some wines suppliers will take part in a thorough wine tasting session, to ensure they select only the highest quality of wines, while others will devise a catalogue which includes a range of tasting notes. “We taste at least 95% of wines prior to selling them to our clientele,” 1862 Wine & Spirits acknowledged.
Popular varieties to know about
Trending wines and suggested varieties will vary depending on the location and time of year in which superyachts are sailing. While a selection of wines might be popular in a particular location, they may not be as highly recommended in another. Wherever in the world you may be, the appropriate wine supplier will be able to assist with a suitable selection of wines relevant to the time of year and location in which you are cruising.
According to VSF France, “Todays trends are towards spicy reds such as Syrah and Grenache. Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio lead the white wine category, with some exciting red styles such as ripe Cabernet Sauvignon from warm climates and for white, Albarino is becoming popular.”
Across the world, red varieties such as Bordeaux blends of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc have become predominately more popular over the years, along with Pinot Noirs due to their “extremely summer-friendly, lighter bodies” stated No.12 Wines. “Whether it’s a savoury Burgundy Pinot Noir paired with pigeon or a chilled fruity New Zealand Pinot Noir paired with BBQ salmon and fruity compotes, these are becoming rather fashionable."
While wines from classic regions are still dominating the wine market, those from evolving regions - such as Canadian Pinot Noirs, New York Chardonnays and English sparkling wines - are becoming more sought after.
Superyacht owners and guests are becoming more interested in trying local wines from the region they are cruising. Berba Wines stated, “Many local wines are delicious, unique, produced in small quantities and are not exported, so this may be the only chance to try them!”
A well-rounded wine list
If you are struggling to put together a well-rounded package of wines a great starting point is focusing on regional classics and including a range of varieties.
Italian wines – from Tuscany, Barlo and Sassicaia – are sure to be crowd pleasers, along with South Australian reds, such as Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon, New Zealand Pinot Noirs or Sauvignon Blancs and California Chardonnays. VSF France further stated, “For everyday drinking single varietal whites such as Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, and for reds Cabernet Sauvignon, Cotes du Rhone, Spanish Tempranillo (Rioja), all without forgetting good quality Provence Rose.”
No.12 Wines recommends a selection which includes “Champagne/ sparkling wine, Rose, easy-drinking whites and reds, fuller bodied whites and reds, a sweet wine and of course your go-to-show-stopper, surprise me wine, which is often brought out when guests ask for something different.”
Berba Wines stated, “It’s hard to go wrong with a good selection of the classics.”
“Stay classic in the appellation,” added 1862 Wine & Spirits
Storing wine aboard superyachts
Sailing the open seas comes with a price for those who love to drink wine. Extreme heat, light and time can encourage the maturity of a wine, along with the sway of the yacht and the vibration of the engine.
VSF France explained, “Put simply, the molecules move around and bump into each other. Some stick together, eventually becoming heavier than the liquid and falling out as sediment, and others break apart, which is part of the development of flavour in a maturing wine. Extremes of heat, light and vibration accelerate this process.”
To avoid this, No.12 Wines suggests, “Finding a cool, dry spot with no direct sunlight and minimal vibrations and temperature variances. So please remove that wines from the bilges and the engine room.”
If it is not particularly easy to store wine in your superyacht’s storage facilities then storing wine onshore is another option.
No.12 Wines stated, “We suggest finding a wine provisioner and/ or merchant who can store your wines for the long term in a good wine storage facility in order to not spoil the wines. The wines can then be bought on board before the beginning of the season to be consumed within a ‘short’ time.”
Having wine storage and cellaring solutions onshore allows for each bottle to remain in optimum condition at all times. Preserving a bottle of wine is a challenging task, even for those with normal cellaring conditions.
It’s clear to see that there are a multitude of things to consider when finding wine for your superyacht owner and their guests. No wonder it can be such a challenging and sometimes daunting prospect for any chef or steward. Rest assured though, if you’re ever in doubt there will be a wine supplier who answer any queries or offer advice.