A Stella Cellar

ANY CREW MEMBER WITH A HOSPITALITY BACKGROUND KNOWS THAT THERE ARE SEVERAL FACTORS UNIQUE TO THE YACHTING INDUSTRY THAT MAKES MANAGING A WINE CELLAR ON A YACHT FAR MORE COMPLEX THAN IN A RESTAURANT. LOUISE SYDBECK MW LOOKS AT SOME GUIDELINES AND SOLUTIONS TO MAKE CELLAR MANAGEMENT EASIER AND MORE LOGICALInstead of a Sommelier, most onboard cellars are managed by the Chief Steward/ess, with varying degrees of wine knowledge, whom in addition to being responsible for the wine cellar also have several other important and time consuming tasks to concentrate on.

Another challenge is the frequent crew turnover; new crew members may wish to add their preferences to the wine list which may not necessarily be in tune with the existing list resulting in sometimes illogical selections. The fact that many yachts have one wine list for the owner and another for charter guests also further adds to the equation.

Additionally, we have the owner’s guidelines and requests that need to be followed and storage space that may also be of major concern.

With respect to these and many other issues, it would be impossible to suggest a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. Instead, I’ll give practical guidelines on how to create a good, balanced and broad wine selection that will have something for all palates, allows for capable food and wine pairing and offer tips on making management an easier task.

The first thing to consider is style; a good wine list should contain different styles of wine to allow for both food pairing and different preferences. For example, a list with only oaked Chardonnay (which is not that uncommon on yachts) is not to everybody’s taste and will not be suitable for all types of food.

Let’s begin with the sparkling wines as this is where a meal tends to start. I recommend stocking at least one Brut Champagne, one rosé Champagne and one or two prestige Champagnes, such as Cristal or Krug. Prosecco is very popular and thus may make a welcome addition.

For white wine, it’s important to have at least three or four different styles represented. First, you’ll want crisp, light and unoaked whites, like most Sauvignon Blanc, Chablis and Pinot Grigio. The second should be medium to full-bodied oaked whites like Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault, and New World Chardonnay. A third style would be aromatic whites with some residual sugar, such as an off-dry Gewürztraminer or Pinot Gris, to go with more exotic spicy dishes.

For rosé, most people like crisp, fresh and fruit-driven styles so often this style will be enough. For the red wine selection try and stock light, medium and fuller-bodied styles. Lighter styles relevant to yachting will typically be quality red Burgundy, from the Pinot Noir grape. Fuller-bodied wines can include Bordeaux, Tuscany and lots of New World reds, though of course, this is a broad generalisation. If possible, also try to have a variation in maturity levels, so that all wines are not from the same vintage and your guests can enjoy both young and old wines.

Dessert wine is a category that is very limited in yachting – and, sadly, in the rest of the world! Nonetheless, one or two wines should be present on all wine lists.

Regarding producers and origin, try and look beyond largescale famous brands and well-known names. Though it´s often necessary to stock some top labels, ask your supplier for smaller lesser known producers whom may offer more interesting and better value wines. With regards to origin, France and Italy are the most important wine countries in the yachting industry and will probably continue to be for a long time, however in order to shape an interesting and broad selection aim to stock a few wines from other countries too.

As we have seen, the challenges of managing a cellar onboard are part of yachting and it is likely not going to change any time soon unless outsourced to a wine consultant.

To make things as manageable as possible I recommend having a good inventory system where you can easily monitor maturity and quantities of your selection. This will notbe new information to most of you, but is key for efficient management. Look for wines that are too old for consumption that can be discarded to free up space. For example, Provence rosé, Pinot Grigio and most New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc should all be consumed within a couple of years to show their best. On the other end of the spectrum, you may have some old and expensive Bordeaux wines that are heading towards the end of their drinking window and should be consumed within a year or two.

Taking stock and making regular evaluations allows you to keep track of what you have and you can suggest wines to the guests accordingly. For example, if you have a single bottle of an expensive, mature Burgundy from a top producer, perhaps suggest that the owner/s have it over dinner so that it’s not forgotten about. For young and fresh wines, parties and events where wine is not the focus it is an ideal opportunity to serve those that are approaching the end of their drinking window but are still showing fine. Other ways of ‘cleaning up your wine cellar’ is to create themed wine tasting dinners.

Vitally, the most important aspect is to plan purchases in advance as much as possible. We all know that there are many last-minute requests in our industry, therefore planning can save you both time and money and you are more likely to find the wines you need. To summarise, creating a sound wine selection and managing it properly requires some thought and knowledge. If you feel that you don’t have the experience or time to research, please get in touch! RIVIERA WINE
With over 15 years’ experience of supplying fine wines to yachts on the French Riviera and beyond, Riviera Wine is considered to be one of the most experienced and respected wine suppliers in the industry. Riviera Wine is also the only yacht wine supplier to have a Master of Wine at the helm and. as such, are able to combine the highest wine knowledge with a vital focus and understanding of the yachting industry. In 2014, Louise Sydbeck, Owner and Founder, became the 100th woman in the world to earn the MW title which is viewed as the pinnacle of wine education. Riviera Wine has a dedicated and experienced
team with an excellent track record in the yachting industry and an enormous passion for wine and service. They focus on attention to detail, efficiency and competitive pricing. In the climate-controlled cellar they hold stock of the most popular wines and Champagnes available for same day delivery, along the French and some of the Italian Riviera. Their extensive network of suppliers means they can source any specific request quickly, efficiently and economically.
For more details Tel: +33 (0)4 93 34 49 66
or visit www.rivierawine.wine