To honour Cayman’s Discovery Day holiday in May, Jacques Scott wine professionals Lee Royle, Sergio Serrano and Sarah Howard sampled some new wines to the Cayman Islands at one of the newest restaurants, the George Town Yacht Club.
Residents of Grand Cayman have always been attracted to new things. When a new restaurant opens, residents invariably swarm to the establishment to see what it has to offer.
That trend certainly held true when the George Town Yacht Club restaurant opened to big crowds at The Barcadere Marina. However, new types of wine don’t enjoy the same kind of attraction when they first make an appearance in Cayman.
When it comes to wine and most other consumer products, people are creatures of habit and slaves to marketing and packaging. With that in mind, the wine professionals at Jacques Scott wanted to make sure residents heard a little bit about three new French brands in the company’s portfolio of wines: Henriot Champagnes, Mas de Daumas Gassac Red and Moulin de Gassac Guilhem White, both from the producer Daumas Gassac.
“The theme this month is discovery,” said Royle. “Discovery of the new George Town Yacht Club and discovery of new Champagnes and new wines in our portfolio.”
Grand Cayman residents are lucky to have a wide selection of Champagnes available to buy, from the well-known, well advertised brands, to the lesser known gems.
Calling Henriot lesser known isn’t really accurate since the House had been producing quality Champagne for more than 200 years and it was the favourite of European royalty at one time. However, since it hasn’t been available here in the Cayman Islands until recently, it is lesser known here, and given the Champagne’s characteristics and Cayman’s climate, it certainly qualifies as a gem.
Jacques Scott now offers two Henriot Champagnes: Brut Souverain [Retail price: $61.99] and Rosé Brut [$74.99] which are both perfect for Cayman.
“I actually think this is a Champagne for people who don’t like Champagne,” Howard said about the Brut Souverain. “People drink Prosecco because they like the fruitiness and it doesn’t taste yeasty. This is a good transition.”
The Brut Souverain is made from a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, with a small percentage of Pinot Meunier. The blend changes slightly from year to year to adjust for vintage variations caused by climate conditions, but the lighter, crisp style is consistent, allowing floral and citrus aromas to come through on the nose and palate.
“It’s fresh and clean,” said Royle.
The Henroit Rosé Brut offered more of that same clean freshness, plus pleasant red berry aromas.
“It’s sexy,” said Serrano.
“Some Rosé Champagnes get oxidated, almond skin notes, but this is really, really beautiful,” said Howard.“Across the board, these Champagnes are all so clean and so precise.”
From the Champagne region, the lunch moved to southern France and the wine area of Languedoc on the Mediterranean coast.
Not as well known as other French wine regions like Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Côtes du Rhône, Languedoc still produces very good wines and often at value prices.
One such wine is Moulin de Gassac Guilhem White [Retail: $11.99], a blend of 40 per cent Grenache Blanc, 30 per cent Sauvignon Blanc and 30 per cent Clairette.
This lively, light-bodied, unoaked wine has crisp citrusy flavours and a fresh finish.
“I love the tropical fruit notes and honey-like quality,” said Howard, who said that the Guilhem White was a good alternative to Sauvignon Blanc in Cayman’s tropical climate.
“Since New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is so popular on the Island, it’s still familiar to those who like that kind of wine,” said Howard.
Some Languedoc wines are of a very high quality, like Mas de Daumas Gassac Red [$68.99], a blend of 80 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon and 20 per cent of unspecified proprietary “rare grape varieties”.
This full-bodied red wine is designed to be consumed young – with decanting – or to be aged for up to 20 years.
“This is known as the Lafite of the Languedoc; you can look it up,” said Howard. “If you can’t afford the thousand dollars for Lafite, we welcome you to enjoy this for under $70.”
With a relatively low – for a largely Cabernet Sauvignon blend – alcohol content of 13 per cent and some exotic grape varieties in the mix, this is a complex, contemplative wine that evolves over the course of a meal and is sure to evoke conversation among friends, whatever the occasion.
George Town Yacht Club
All of the wines were tasted during a lunch that sampled many of the George Town Yacht Club’s menu items, including the signature conch ceviche; crispy calamari; shrimp cocktail; Cobb salad; a grilled homemade burger; oxtail shepherd’s pie; fish and chips; a pepperoni pizza; and the ceviche of the day – which was wahoo.
General Manager Matt Moore said the menu is the same all day long.
“We didn’t want to differentiate between lunch and dinner,” he said. “It’s working well.”
Guests can sit inside in the comfort of air conditioning at tables or by the bar, or they can enjoy the fresh North Sound breezes at nice outdoor tables on the Barcadere’s beach.
There’s a full bar with televisions for the adults and a round swimming pool that is a big hit with children.
Although the restaurant currently doesn’t offer daily specials per se, some menu items like the catch of the day and the ceviche of the day change depending on what the local fishermen provide.
Moore said GYTC also makes its own pastas, breads, doughnuts and ice cream.
The overall concept was to create a family friendly restaurant with a pocket friendly price point while still providing tasty menu items that can be enjoyed by young and old alike.
“It’s not fine dining,” said Moore. “That wasn’t our goal. But there’s something for everyone and it’s not going to break the bank.”