In the know: On board wine cellars
Camper & Nicholsons talk to the experts in their field on how to establish your own on board wine cellar.
The deck of a superyacht must be one of the best spots to enjoy a bottle of fine wine, but behind the scenes the manner in which your wine is delivered and stored is a challenging task. Professional wine suppliers can guarantee that your magnificent grand cru ventures safely into the undulating world of luxury on board and can be comfortably accommodated thanks to today’s high-tech cellars on board. Here we talk to industry experts.
Riviera Yacht Support
Renowned for the quality of service, Riviera Yacht Support deals with all aspects of superyacht provisioning and supplies the world’s most sought after wines, spirits and Champagnes. Louise Sydbeck’s knowledge of wine is profound and she shares her passion in her position as the wine educator at RYS.
EGP Fine Yacht Suppliers
EGP Fine Yacht Suppliers offers a wide range of fine wines, Champagnes, Cognacs and spirits, as well as other fresh produce to superyachts around the world.
Mega Yacht Services
Based out of the Caribbean, Mega Yacht Services is the main port of call for assistance to super and mega yachts when cruising the Caribbean. From provisioning of food to wines, Champagnes, flowers and logistics, they have a wealth of knowledge of the islands.
Just as menus on your yacht can be customised to suit your taste buds and cruising grounds, so too can your choice of wine. The matching of food and wine is very personal and before stepping on board, your chef will be made aware of your wine choices so that he or she can create menus that are complementary to your wines. There are a number of guidelines to follow that find the best pairings, but gone are the days of classic combinations. ‘Lately, we have seen a different, more modern view focusing on four key components: sweetness, umami (savoury taste), acidity and salt,’ explains Riviera Yacht Support’s wine consultant Sydbeck. ‘Many wines, especially in the Old World, are made to suit local cuisine. A lot of Italian dishes, for example, use the basic ingredients of tomato and garlic. Both of these ingredients are high in acid and the majority of Italian wines are also high in acid therefore often making a good match.’
Nathalie Mayet is the wine expert at EGP Fine Yacht Suppliers. Mayet’s principal advice when it comes to wine pairings is to be consistent. ‘Spicy wines go with spicy foods, intense wines complement complex dishes, and fresh, light dishes and salads are best accompanied by something light and chilled.’ Mayet recommends having a selection of well-known classics on board. ‘A Pomerol will rarely disappoint, as well as the increasingly popular New World wines.’
With the tropical climate comes a different demand. The weather in the Caribbean, for example, is warm year round and rosé wines are the most popular there as they are easy to drink in such a climate. ‘Provençal rosés are the top sellers in the Caribbean. Clos Beylesse, Whispering Angel, Domaine Ott seem to be the most popular,’ says Jane Harrison of Mega Yacht Services.
Though you may have a preference for a well-known name, be sure to try the local wines wherever you cruise. Many excellent wines are from smaller producers but often don’t make it to the export market and cruising provides a great opportunity to enrich your understanding and appreciation of wines on the advice of local connoisseurs.
When cruising in the South of France take advantage of your proximity to some of the finest vineyards and enjoy local Provençal cuisine with a light rosé for lunch. Sydbeck recommends Les Clans from Chateau d’Esclans; Minuty Rosé & Or from Cotes de Provence and Chateau de Pibarnon from Bandol. ‘For all rosés always choose the most recent available vintage.’ When it comes to whites and reds, try Condrieu from the Rhone Valley. Sydbeck’s favourite producers include George Verney, René Rostaing and Yves Cuilleron. Mayet highly recommends Clos Saint Joseph’s red wine from 2010. ‘It is fruity and lively and true to the crisp taste of Provence.’
In Italy there are many more wines to discover. No other country has more to offer in terms of indigenous grape varieties and obscure regions. An hour from Naples lies the region of Taurasi, producing stunning, powerful wines from the grape aglianico. Another highly recommended white is Fiano d’Avellino, which is rich yet refreshing with notes of peach and herbs.
When cruising further east, Sydbeck recommends trying some of the Balkan wines from vineyards in the former Yugoslavia, which are rarely found on the export markets in southern Europe but where enormous progress has been made over the past few years in terms of wine making and viticulture. And, when in Greece, try a white from Santorini made of the grape assyrtiko, which is high in acid, peachy and very mineral. Two famous reds to try in Greece are the full-bodied agiorgitiko from Nemea and the lighter and more fragrant xynomavro from Naoussa.
When selecting wines for your cruise take into account the storage capabilities and the local availability of wines. Many superyachts have their own wine cellars, the majority of storage areas, however, are spread throughout the yacht to make the most of the available space. Vibration is tricky to get around on yachts but a good rule of thumb is to avoid keeping wine near the engine room. Sydbeck advises that the perfect cellar should be dark, with the right humidity and right temperature. ‘Wines should be stored away from light and vibration. The light speeds up certain chemical reactions and can result in loss of flavour, while vibration will keep sediment in the wine moving around the bottle’ says Sydbeck. The wine storage area should be cool, with a constant temperature between 10 and 15 degrees Celsius, and humidity between 70 and 75 per cent. Bottles with a cork should be stored on their sides so that the cork is kept in contact with the wine to prevent it from drying out, which leads to oxidation. Light wines are more likely to be rapidly affected through bad storage – whites, rosés and mature reds. Powerful red wines with plenty of tannins and full-bodied and concentrated white wines are the ones that tend to withstand moderate storage conditions the best.
Just as menus on your yacht can be customised to suit your taste buds and cruising grounds, so too can your choice of wine. The matching of food and wine is very personal and before stepping on board, your chef will be made aware of your wine choices so that he or she can create menus that are complementary to your wines.