Best of the Maldives: Sommelier Certification – One & Only Reethi Rah

One an Only Reethi Rah - sommelier training

May Day, May Day…I need help…with my wine choice! May Day today is better known as a celebration of workers. Each year this day, I highlight an initiative that a resort is making in its people. This year is One & Only Reethi Rah who certify all their sommeliers through the internationally recognizes WSET standard:

  • “This is a professional course and there is different levels, starting at Introduction Level 1 to advanced Level 4. All our sommeliers are certified thru this global group as well as about 20 other F&B staff members with more being certified next year.”

Raise a glass to all the resort workers who help make the Maldives even more of an experience of paradise. At Reethi Rah, “S.O.S.” stands for “Sommeliers Outstanding Service”.

One and Only Reethi Rah - WSET

Best of the Maldives: Pinot Noir – Huvafenfushi

Huvafenfushi - Sommelier Indica Romani Pinot Noir

  • Only somebody who really takes the time to understand Pinot’s potential can then coax it into its fullest expression. Then, I mean, oh its flavors, they’re just the most haunting and brilliant and thrilling and subtle and… ancient on the planet.” – Sideways

Pinot Noir Day today. If you are wondering why we should be celebrating such a specific varietal, then check out the clip from the Oscar winning film “Sideways” at bottom (excerpt above). I guess Miles’ sentiments echo some of my inspirations behind Maldives Complete. It really takes time to coax the Maldives “into its fullest expression” in an informative website.

And if you want to sample the most haunting, most brilliant , most thrilling and most subtle Pinot, then you need to visit Huvafenfushi for its Romani 1999. The bottle (shown by sommelier Indica above and in the photo below) will run you $30,000.

Huvafenfushi - Romani Pinot Noir

Best of the Maldives: Indian Wine – Taj Exotica

Taj Exotica - Indian wine 2

The water villa floors are not the only place you will find an exotic glass in the Maldives. Their world class wine cellars house some of the most exquisite vintages from around the world.

One might not think of the neighbouring subcontinent as a particularly noteworthy appellation. We fell into that same trap. We went to a champagne blind taste testing which featured a Indian sparkling wine called Omar Khayam (which at the time was stocked by ASDA). We were all expecting it to taste like yesterday’s vindaloo, but in the tasting everyone (blind again) rated it as one of the top bubblys. We mistook it for Moet. It turns out that Omar Khayan had gone into to partnership with Louis Roederer and produced some actual vintage runs with exceptional quality (Unfortunately the production of at least the vintage stuff has stopped and I can’t find any bottles anywhere. We did try some N.V. bottles, but frankly, they did merit more of a comparison to curry than champagne).

But you can find some top bottles at Taj Exotica from the budding producers. Especially Fratelli Wines in Nasik, India which has produced a selection “Specially matured and bottled for Taj Exotica”.

  • Fratelli, “Sette VII” Sagiovese/Cabernet Sauvignon, 2011, $95
  • Fratelli, “Vitae” Chardonnay, Barrel fermented, 2014, $75

शराब के बिना भोजन बिना धूप के एक दिन की तरह है

Taj Exotica - Indian wine

Best of the Maldives: Mini-Bar Wine – Huvafenfushi

Huvafenfushi - CUBE mini bar

National Drink Wine Day today. The perfect occasion to splash out of bit of a special tipple. And if you really want to celebrate but are worried about stumbling back to your villa, then check into Huvafenfushi which offers the most exquisite bottle of wine I’ve come across…in its mini-bar. A $695 bottle of Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtescede. If you are not splurging, then you might want to be a bit careful “raiding the mini-bar”.

Best of the Maldives: Chilean Wine – Sun Siyam Irufushi

Sun Siyam Irufushi - Chile wine 2

Chile National Day. Chile can take pride today in many of its contributions to the world not least of which are its world class wines. Often found in the value bins of the supermarket wine section, the country’s hot sunny days with modest precipitation and cooling breezes make it a proper paradise for viticulture. It produces a wide range of not only well-priced, but exceptional quality varietal wines including sleek Cabernets and clean Chardonnays. And to toast Chile today you need a word with the Sun Siyam Irufushi sommelier.

Their collection includes one of the most distinctive wines from the Andean slopes and a pioneer of Chilean ultra-premium Wines, Montes Alpha M (see photo at bottom)…

“This extraordinary wine represents a dream come true for the original founders of Montes: to produce a ‘first growth’ that can stand alongside the world’s other finest wines. Production of Montes Alpha M is extremely limited and vintages are only released if our head winemaker Aurelio Montes considers that the quality of the wine is up to demanding standards. Aurelio goes as far as painstakingly selecting individual grapes rather than bunches at harvest time, in his aim for supreme quality, eliminating variables that might compromise quality. Coming from the best vines at our Finca de Apalta estate, considered by many to be Chile´s best red wine terroir, Montes Alpha M has become the icon benchmark for other Chilean wineries to follow. Montes Alpha M is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (80%), Merlot (10%), Cabernet Franc (5%) and Petit Verdot (5%). Basically it is Bordeaux blend with intense dark red in color. It is a powerful wine with beautiful soft, rounded tannins. The wine is elegant and has a very well-defined character. The inclusion of Petit Verdot adds an extra element of complexity. There is a pleasant and harmonious marriage of fruit and French oak. It is perfectly balanced, full-bodied and voluptuous mid-palate with a rewarding, lingering aftertaste of mature grapes and a level of acidity that reflects its superb structure. Wine maker tried their best level to bring the wines up-to the Bordeaux wine standard. 2006 Montes Alpha ‘’M’’ is one of most popular wine in the luxury wine cellar dinner at The Sun Siyam Irufushi Maldives. It is for guest experience to match the Bordeaux chateaux with Chilean Montes Alpha ‘’M’’ 2006. This wine will be able to keep for more than 20 years. “

The complete Chilean Wine Selection at The Sun Siyam Irufushi Maldives reads like a Chilean geography lesson…

White wine

  • ·Aconcagua Valley
    • 2012 Errazuriz ‘Estate Reserva’ Sauvignon Blanc, 13.5%
    • Casablanca Valley
    • 2012 Errazuriz ‘Estate Reserva’ Chardonnay, 12.5%
    • 2010 Montes ‘Alpha’ Chardonnay, 14%
  • San Antonio Valley
    • 2012 Emiliana Novas Sauvignon Blanc, 13%
    • 2012 Emiliana Signos de Origen Chardonnay, Rousanne, Marsanne, Viognier, 14.5%
  • Central Valley
    • 2013 Poco Mas Chardonnay, 13%
  • Maipo Valley
    • 2011 Undurraga ‘Aliwen Reserva’ Chardonnay, 14%
  • Rapel Valley
    • 2011 Emiliana Adobe Gewurtztraminer, 14%
  • Curico Valley
    • 2013 Montes Classic ‘Riserva’ Sauvignon Blanc, 12.5%
    • 2011 Caliterra Reserva Sauvignon Blanc, 13%
  • Maule Valley
    • 2008 O. Fournier ‘Centauri’ Sauvignon Blanc, 13.5%

Red Wines

  • Casablanca Valley
    • 2009 Montes ‘Limited Selection’ Pinot Noir, 14%
  • Central Valley
    • 2013 Siete Soles Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, 12%
    • 2010 Undurraga ‘Aliwen Reserva’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, 14%
  • Maipo Valley
    • 2009 Marques de Casa Concha ‘Concha Y Toro’ Cabernet Sauvignon, 14.5%
    • 2006 Undurraga ‘Founder’s Collection’ Cabernet Sauvignon, 14%
  • Colchagua Valley
    • 2012 Fuzion Shiraz, Malbec, 13%
  • Rapel Valley
    • 2011 Montes ‘Reserva’ Merlot, 14%
    • 2009 Montes ‘Reserva’ Merlot, 14%
    • 2010 Caliterra ‘Reserva’ Merlot, 13.5%
    • 2007 Montes ‘Folly’ Syrah, 15%
  • o 2011 Caliterra ‘Reserva’ Cabernet Sauvignon, 13.5%
  • o 2009 Montes ‘Purple Angel’ Carmenere, Petit Verdot, 14.5%
  • o 2009 Montes ‘Alpha’ Carmenere, 14.5%
  • o 2009 Montes ‘Alpha’ Shiraz, 14.5%
  • o 2006 Montes ‘Alpha M’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, 14.5%
  • · Maule Valley
  • o 2007 O. Fournier ‘Centauri’ Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenere, Cargignan 14%

Viva el vino!

Sun Siyam Irufushi - Chile wine

Best of the Maldives: Chinese Drinks – Shangri-La Villingili

Shangri-La Villingili - chinese wine

The Maldives are renowned for their legendary sunsets, but the night time celestial displays of stars and moon are equally as dazzling on the light-pollution free skies reflecting on the glass-like seas below. The full moon is always an occasion for a special celebration and tonight’s full moon marks the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival in particular.

The event is a time of coming together with friends and family for prayers of thanksgiving for the harvest bounty. Like the American Thanksgiving holiday, there is plenty of feasting and to compliment the cornucopia of foods, Shangri-La Villingili offers the most exceptional range of Chinese libations…

  • Baijiu (Chinese White Spirit) – Distilled.
    • MOU TAI (mao – tai) Produced in Guizhou, Southwest China. Often referred to as Chinese vodka. Distilled from sorghum. Unique because of ‘sauce-fragrance’. Alcohol degree from 53 to 35 (the higher, the more expensive). Official alcohol beverage in Chinese governments. Claims to be one of the three most famous liquors in the world, besides cognac and whiskey.
    • WU LIANG YE – Produced in Chengdu. Often known as the magic liquor of China. Purest, most authentic baijiu distiller. Complex with a fragrant peppery nose, soft and mellow on the palate
  • Huangjiu (Yellow Liquor) – Fermented
    • SHAOXING WINE (shao – sing). Produced in Shaoxing, Zhe Jiang. Shaoxing is the most internationally known high grade yellow wine, made for drinking and cooking. Traditionally drank both chilled and warm.
    • NU ER HONG (nü-eR-hong). Produced in Shaoxing, Zhe Jiang Fermented from glutinous rice and wheat. Alcohol degree is less than 20 degrees. Traditionally drank warm. Nu Er Hong has a beautiful story. In the ancient times, when the baby daughter was born, the parent would carve or paint jars of wine and bury them underground until the daughter got married. Thereafter, the parents would dig the wines out for a feast with the guests, hence its name Nu Er Hong (Daughter Rice Wine)
  • Chinese Grape Wine – Fermented
    • White – Produced in Shaan Xi, Northwest China. Close proximity to Xi An, home of the Terracotta Warriors. Grace Vineyard is one of the most established winery in China, and has been in operations since 1997. The first vintage was produced in 2001. Grace Vineyards Tasya’s Reserve Chardonnay 2008. Color: Pale, straw Green. Aromas: Light oak, tropical fruits, cashews. Palate: Light oak, nuts, melon fruits. Mouth-filling with fresh acidity.
    • Red – Grace Vineyards Tasya’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2009. 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Color: Deep Ruby Red. Aromas: Blackberry, blackcurrant, subtle oak. Palate: Soft, medium-bodied red wine with blackberry notes. Fine tannins and light oak, good clean finish.
  • Beer – TSING TAO BEER (ching-dao). Brewery was founded by German settlers in China in 1903. Tsing Tao is the number one branded consumer producted exported in China

The catalogue above is compliments of Winnie Toh (photo above) from Singapore who is herself a Certified sommelier by Court of Master Sommeliers and also received the WSET Advanced Certificate in Wines and Spirits as well as the Wine Spectator Awards of Excellence.

This occasion has made me realise how much material I have on the Maldives’ biggest guest country, China, so I am adding the tag “Chinese” today to bring together all these pieces.

Best of the Maldives: Highest Wine Cellar – Velaa

Velaa - tower wine cellar

When is a wine cellar not a wine cellar? When it is on the roof. Well, at least up in the air.

When you think vast wine collections, you think of descending into a dusky basement. But the “wine cellar” is a bit of a throw-back to times before climate control. When under ground was the most naturally moderate and constant temperature one could find. But with today’s modern air cooling and UV filtering glass, you can put your prized vintages about anywhere.

I was first struck by Coco Bodu Hithi who put their wine collection unconventionally *above* their restaurant. It meant they could hold wine tastings with gorgeous ocean views instead of sequestered in some hovel.

But Velaa went even further above that with their “cellar” propped up above the tree in their signature Tavaru Tower.

“A thorough delight for wine enthusiasts, the ivory-white Tavaru Tower hosts Velaa’s extensive wine cellar. More than five hundred bins, the largest on Maldives, span the spectrum from boutique wineries to grand marques. Offering guests a rare opportunity to discover gems such as the 1956 Domaine de la Romanée Conti “Romanée Conti”, rare vintage Salon Champagne, and a centuries old fortified 1870 Blandy’s “Verdelho Solera”, this exquisite list has unearthed treasures from across the globe.”

 Velaa - tower wine cellar 2

Best of the Maldives: Private Wine Cellars – One & Only Reethi Rah

One and Only Reethi Rah private wine cellar

You know how there are 500 TV channels and nothing you want to watch? Well, sometimes no matter how big a restaurant’s wine collection is, you are deflated when your favourite fermentation is not available it. And just as the latest digital television now allows you to set up your own personal playlists and download or record your favourites, One and Only Reeth Rah lets you build your own wine collection on the resort by providing a personal wine cellar. Reethi Rah has a large number of high flying repeater guests. And when they arrive, they will know just what vintages await their holiday. They can choose among their favourites. Or let them mature a bit longer until their next stay.

Best of the Maldives: Underground Wine Collection – Huvafenfushi

Huvafenfushi - undergrond wine cellar 1

There bigger…and there’s more. And when it comes to bottles of wine underground, no one has more than resort Huvafenfushi. Their cellar holds 6000 bottles which is not just the largest not in the Maldives, but in the entire Indian Ocean as well.

6000 bottles of wine on the wall, 6000 bottles of wine. You take one down, pass it around, sign for a big charge on your room bill, 5999 bottles of wine on the wall…

Huvafenfushi - underground win cellar 2
Grand entrance to the Huva cellar

Best of the Maldives: Biggest Underground Wine Cellar – JA Manafaru

JA Manafaru - underground wine cellar

Today’s is wine’s big day. Nevermind “Wine O’Clock’…all day is National Wine Day today. And the *big* place to drink it in the Maldives is JA Manafaru. They have the largest underground wine cellar in the country. Three entire rooms. And it is filled from top to bottom with 3,000 bottles of the world’s finest fermentation. The space is not just used for storage, but also elegantly fitted out for wine tastings and pairing meals.

Salud y amor y tiempo para disfrutarlo ! – Latin American toast meaning “Health and love and time to enjoy it.” At Manafaru, you get the space to enjoy it as well.

JA Manafaru - underground wine cellar 2