Editor’s note: David Gertiser is our new wine correspondent. He is also the founder and personal enologist at MyVintage.wine, where he makes custom wines for discerning clients. Here, he shares insight into the best Caribbean locales this winter for filling and refilling your superyacht wine cellar.
The Caribbean often resonates synonymously with tranquility, relaxation, and escape. This year, yacht cruisers are looking to escape more than the daily grind: They are looking for COVID safety offered by the open sea and fully catered luxury accommodations inherent in yachting. Many of the world’s top wine-producing regions are facing lockdowns, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get amazing wines on the islands. Check out these top spots to find great wines for dinner or replenish your superyacht wine cellar.
Dietlinde Minors runs the Cork and Basket in Anitgua, located in Falmouth Harbor across from the the yacht club. “Everyone calls me Diedy,” she said when I spoke with her as she took a break from stock taking. “I’ve been in the Caribbean since ’94, but moved to Antigua in 2016 to open the Cork and Basket. When we started we focused on wines we represent, like Santa Margherita’s exceptional Italian Pinot Grigio from Valdadige DOC, but quickly expanded to our now famous deli and high-quality frozen meats.” Their top wines? “I love our our Allegrini Brunello Montalcino, a classic Italian red, or our Pommard Clos des Ursuline a real elegant Burgundy. But we’re often asked for the well-known Champagne Billecart & Salmon.”
Across the island, Lance Leohard runs Jacqui O’s, an elegant beachfront restaurant and bar. “I spend summers in the top spots in Europe, finding what people like to drink, and then bringing the best back with me,” he said to me when we caught up. Where does he go? “You know, Mikonos, Ibiza, Saint Tropez,” he counted off. “But I like to meet the producers. You can see if quality is present throughout the entire production. A good wine a few years ago can be ruined by cost-cutting in the bottling line. I’ve got no patience for bad wine.” His favorites this year? “Chateau Sanglier, for one,” he said, “and I’ve got a Beaujolais Blanc, a real rare find.” Lance makes sure both cruisers and crew are well cared for, too. “Happy crew, happy boat.”
Hop over to St. Martin, and you’ll still find great wines for your superyacht wine cellar. Just head over to the Belmond La Samanna, an elegant and luxurious hotel with beach bar and superb restaurant. Antoine L’Homme makes sure the wines are top-notch. I first reached him at his home in Paris before we caught up when he returned to the island. “It was the down season, so I return home,” he explained. He sources the unusual to keep guests intrigued. For example, the spectacular Gran Muralles, from a hidden valley in Spain (Conca de Barbera), comes from the walls outside of Spain’s oldest functioning Carthusian monastery. Reason to celebrate? Antoine has large bottles, magnums and mathusalems, so that the glasses don’t run dry.
If you’re cruising over to St. Barths for New Year’s, stop in at L’Isola, the best restaurant on the island. The setting is elegant, candlelit, and refined. The gnocchi are home-made, and the fish are market-fresh. And the wine? Try a nice Italian sparkling white, perhaps a Ca del Bosco Cuvée Prestige. It will pair nicely with good company and tranquility.
Whatever you’re escaping from, escape to the Caribbean and a spectacular wine scene. Happy sailing.