New wine club launched

Tortuga Rum Company and The Journal have teamed together to launch a new wine club that not only offers exclusive brands, but great values as well. 

There’s a great new way to get good wines at fantastic prices: The Tortuga Wine Club presented by The Journal. 

Once every three months for about two weeks, Cayman residents will be able to purchase a specially selected assortments of six wines generally not available anywhere else on Grand Cayman, for 20 per cent less than the regular retail price. Customers will have two assortments to choose from at two price points. 

Purchases can either be made online by clicking here or in cash at the Cayman Free Press reception desk. Tortuga Rum Company will deliver the wine free of charge to your home or office, or it can be collected at the Tortuga retail store at Governors Square. 

Barnaby Richardson, the sales and marketing manager of Tortuga Wines & Spirits Ltd,, said the company was excited about partnering with the Journal to create the new wine club.  

“We are excited not only because it has not been available on the island before, but also that it will allow wine drinkers of the Cayman Islands to explore new wines, new vineyards and new varietals that they wouldn’t otherwise try,” he said. “Chosen for the wine club are classic wines but also those obscure and undiscovered wines which refresh our interest and allow us to experience more, whatever your pallet.” 

Cayman Free Press Business Manager Teritia Peart said the wine club was a good fit for the Journal as well. 

“The Journal has long recognised that Cayman’s culinary offerings are important to residents and the Journal Lifestyles section is a testament to that,” she said. “The Tortuga Wine Club is just one more way to serve our readership.” 

The first two half-dozen selections – California Classics and California Eclectics – is available only from 7 December through 23 December, just in time for the Christmas holidays. 


California Eclectics 

To get a feeling about how the wines selected for the December offering would be received, Richardson invited several sommeliers from Grand Cayman’s restaurants to attend a tasting at the Ports of Call bar at the Wharf Restaurant. Among those tasting were the Wharf’s sommelier Eric Marroix; Decker’s Manager Jesse Dame; and Bamboo’s new sommelier Sam Troxell. 

The first selection of six wines featured two whites and four reds. Only one of the wines – Wente Louis Mel Sauvignon Blanc – is available at Tortuga’s retail store, but Richardson is a big fan of the wine. 

“I think for the money, it’s a fantastic value,” he said of the Wente Louis Mel that retails at $13.35. The wine, which received 90 points from Wine Enthusiast Magazine, has fruity aromas of citrus, pineapple and melon. In the mouth, it offers a refreshing crisp acidity and a creamy mid-palate finish. 

Santa Barbara Collection Chardonnay is another example of how a good California wine doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.  

“It’s a delicate gold mine of a find; a truly new style Chard that any white wine drinker will love,” Richardson said. “This is a good Chardonnay for people who say they don’t like Chardonnay.” 

Dame was impressed with the wine as well. 

“On the palate, this wine embraces nearly every spectrum of fruit, from mango to guava, lemon and apple,” he said. “It has bright acidity, with a creamy refreshing finish.” 

“It’s a good seafood wine,” Marroix said. 

Moving on to the red wines, Cline Cashmere, a smooth blend of Mourvèdre, Grenache, and Syrah from Sonoma Valley, was tasted next. 

“It’s a spicy blockbuster,” Richardson said. “Cline is very good at doing some Old World wines.” 

This easy drinking and food-friendly wine got better as it opened up with a little time and was flavourful enough to take a little chilling for the outdoor tasting. 

Zinfandel – not to be confused with the semi-sweet blush wine that comes out of California – is a dry, full-bodied, food-friendly red wine that goes fabulously with barbecued meats. 

The Artezin Zinfandel that is in the California Eclectic selection is fruity wine made by Hess Vineyards in Napa Valley. 

“It’s soft, supple tannins create a firm, yet lush mouth feel with its bright fruit-forward flavour profile and spicy palate,” Richardson said.  

Sledgehammer Cabernet Sauvignon is a no-nonsense, big, bold wine that is made for big, bold steaks right of the grill. Powerful on the palate, this Northern Sonoma Valley wine features explosive fruit flavour and firm tannins.  

“A classic Cab with impact, spice and fruit,” Richardson said. 

Kenwood Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma Valley was a well-balanced wine that offers black fruits and a long finish. 

“For the price, it’s a fantastic classic Sonoma Cab,” Richardson said of the wine that normally has a retail price of $20.99.  

Bought together with a 20 per cent discount, the California Eclectics selection is offered through the Tortuga Wine Club presented by The Journal for $89.84, a savings of more than $20 off the regular retail price. 


California Classics 

The others selection of wines, the California Classics, are all 90-pointers with the exception of the 89-point unique white wine called The Whip from Livermore Valley, just east of San Francisco. 

What makes the wine unique is that it’s made of a blend of six grapes – Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Semillon, Pinot Blanc, Orange Muscat and Muscat Canelli.  

“There is incredible fusion of such unusual varietals to produce a refreshing, tropical fruit-filled vibrant wine,” Richardson said. “Pair with seafood, Thai or drink as the sun goes down.” 

Troxell, who works at the Japanese restaurant Bamboo, noticed right away The Whip would also pair well with sushi. 

The other white wine in the California Classics selection is Hess Su’Skol Chardonnay. With strong flavours of butterscotch and vanilla and a creamy texture, the Hess Su’Skol is a rich Chardonnay made in classical Napa Valley style. 

Moving on to the red wines, the Clos du Val Merlot was well received by the sommeliers. 

“This for me restores confidence in California Merlot,” Richardson said of the Napa Valley wine, adding it was only Merlot in name because it had such intensity and sophistication. Dame from Deckers liked the Clos du Val. 

“Full bodied and dark in colour, this Merlot offers aromas of dark fruit, mocha and white pepper with a hint of toast,” he said, adding it had an elegant and lingering finish. “This wine would pair perfect with your Christmas Turkey Dinner.” 

The Bordeaux-style red blend Valley of the Moon Cuvee Luna from Sonoma Valley displayed aromas of black cherry and plum, with notes of bay leaf, anise and sweet tobacco.  

“Supple tannins and balanced acidity provide excellent structure to this elegant and complex blend,” said Richardson. 

Another favourite of the sommeliers was the Kenwood Jack London Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma Valley. 

“Incredible secondary fruits of tobacco and hazelnut, powerful black fruits and long elegant finish,” Richardson said. “It’s got an excellent mouth feel.” 

Intense with elegant flavours, the Kenwood Jack London Cab would pair well with hearty meats. 

The last California Classics wine was the highest rated, the 92-point Silverado Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley. Elegant and rich with flavours of ripe, jammy fruit, this is a wine for those who like Napa Cabs. 

“Another classic with such rich flavours and complexity,” Richardson said. “Steak would be orphaned without this wine.” 

Bought separately, the California Classics would cost $183, but through the Tortuga Wine Club presented by The Journal, the selection can be purchased for $146.41, a savings of more than $36. 

Those who purchase the wine online at will have the price converted to US dollars, but the same discounts will apply. 

Richardson said wines from South Africa, New Zealand, Italy, Spain, France and South America would be included in the Wine Club’s future offerings. 

“As a relatively young wine company, it is very exciting to be presented with a clean sheet,” he said. “It has allowed us to focus on the classic wines, but also the new and emerging wines and varietals. When people come to Tortuga, we hope to service them with what they want and what they don’t know they want!”