If you happen to be on the Côte d’Azur, you’ll no doubt have noticed that it’s beginning to look a lot like summer. It’s hard not to be dazzled by the clear blue skies, delighted to rediscover the warmth of the sun on your skin and excited by the array of new vintage rosé wines starting to appear on wine shop shelves.
Yes, yet another yachting season is amongst us. Whilst many Mediterranean yacht charters start on our sparkling coast before undertaking journeys to Corsica, the Amalfi Coast and beyond, many charterers don’t feel the need to leave the Côte d’Azur; whether cruising between St Tropez and Monaco and all the bays in between, or using one port as a base for an array of entertaining. The latter is especially the case during premier events such as the Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix.
Such charters, often referred to as static charters, boast a busy schedule of events themselves, from casual aperitifs to exclusive parties. As such, the wine selection is less about what matches the menu proposed by the chef. Instead, the priority becomes choosing easy-drinking wines that will appeal to a wide variety of wine drinkers.
So what are the best styles of wines for your onboard events?
Let’s start with the easiest first, rosé. Here on the French Riviera you don’t need to travel far to find the finest examples of the pink drink in the world. Provence rosé is dry, refreshing, light, and fruity – a winning blend of characteristics sure to appeal to most palates. It’s a combination which is utterly thirst quenching and dangerously drinkable, and there’s no better a setting in which to enjoy it than on the aft deck of a yacht.
Famous names, such as Château d’Esclans, Château Miraval and Château Minuty boast a price tag to reflect their popularity, however Domaines Ott, the quintessential name in Provence rosé, has just released a new cuvée called By Ott, an utterly sippable introduction to their range and the perfect choice for entertaining.
When it comes to white wines, here you can definitely have some fun, perhaps even choosing a few different wines to offer. I’d steer clear of anything overtly oaked, as they offer more buttery, creamy characteristics than crisp, fruit flavours, so avoid most new world Chardonnays. Instead consider varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc which is high in acidity (ie refreshing) and offers an interesting array of flavor characteristics, from the explosive gooseberry and passionfruit aromas of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to the more minerally tones found in a bottle of French Sancerre or Pouilly Fumé.
Other popular choices would include basic Chablis, a cool climate, unoaked Chardonnay that offers loads of citrus/green apple flavours, or a Trocken (dry) German Riesling, tantalizing the taste buds with fruity and floral characteristics and boasting one of the lowest alcohol contents around, often less than 10%.
Reds are, understandably, the trickiest choice as most of the most renowned varieties, such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz, are the antithesis of easy drinking; big, powerful, high-alcohol wines with loads of tannins (found in the skin of grapes, enabling a wine to age but also imparting that astringent, bitter taste quite common in younger red wines). Look for red wines with softer tannins which don’t need to be matched with food; Merlot is appreciated for it’s round, plummy flavours, especially from the new world, or a sunny, rich red blend from the Languedoc-Roussillon in south-west France, overflowing with fresh fruit flavours, or even a quality Beaujolais.
The monthly wine blog for Bespoke Yacht Charter is written by Chrissie McClatchie, an Australian freelance wine professional and writer who has been selling fine wine to superyachts since her arrival in Nice in 2007. Today she also teaches WSET wine courses and conducts guided visits through Nice’s AOC Bellet.